The Budget Control Act of 2011created the 12-member, bi-partisan Super Committee with extraordinary powers with the goal of achieving at least $1.5 trillion in budgetary savings over 10 years. What they ultimately decide -- or fail to decide -- by the deadline of November 23, 2011, will shape the economic future of this country for many years to come. Thus, it is important to know the identity of interest groups seeking to influence the Committee members.
The public has the right to know what members have ties to what industries or lobbies, not only in the past, but also since the Super Committee was formed. For example, public action committees (PACs) associated with lawmakers on the Committee have shown a surge of contributions, and PACs representing corporate biggies like Pfizer and Lockheed Martin contributed more than $83,000 during August alone.
After last year's U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Super PACs are permitted to raise unlimited amounts of money from donors -- individuals, corporations and unions -- which can be used to fund political advertisements for or against federal candidates and to otherwise support or oppose candidates.
Lawyers and law firms were the largest contributors by industry, with nearly $32 million into election efforts. Securities and investment sector and health professionals placed second and third. Other top contributors include the conservative Club for Growth, Microsoft, the University of California, Goldman Sachs, EMILY'S List, Citigroup, and JP Morgan Chase. In short, there is much money going to the twelve Super Committee members.
MapLight has conducted an analysis of the total campaign contributions to the twelve members of Congress appointed to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. The totals by contributor can be found here
At the same website, you can click on an individual Super Committee member to see an analysis of campaign contributions to that committee member.
As Jesse Unruh, former Speaker of the California Assembly, once said, "Money is the mother's milk of politics." Because of Citizens United, we can do little to stem the flow of money to politicians, but the public is entitled to know where the milk is coming from.