Saturday, June 17, 2006

Rep. Jefferson Stripped of Right to Milk For-Profit Healthcare Donors by Expulsion from House Ways and Means Committee

(AP) Representative William J. Jefferson’s removal as member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee portends badly for the level of slop in his campaign money trough. Might it begin to fall precipitously? A frequent liner of committee members’ election pockets is the Federation of American Hospitals, the for profit hospital trade association. Other individual companies are also large contributors, frequently to Chairman Bill Thomas.

The FAH donated to 31 of the 41 Ways and Means committee members over the last 2 election cycles. Large donations went to Chairman Thomas and Nancy Johnson, chairman of the Health Subcommittee. Three of the top eight industries donating to committee members are involved in health care, health professionals, pharmaceuticals, and hospitals/nursing homes. In the current election cycle these groups have donated approximately $3,000,000 to committee members.

Their Senate counterpart, the Senate Finance committee has a similar record of gorging at the election money trough. The last two election cycles the FAH lined the re-election pockets of 12 of the 20 members. The Finance Committee’s contributions from health related industries amounts to over $7,000,000 for the current election. The three groups are ranked 6, 10, & 15 on the Finance Committee’s slate of donors.

Since 2001 the Federation has pumped more than $10 million into lobbying efforts. Broadening the scope beyond the FAH, I explored all health care donations to members of the House Ways & Means Committee in the current election cycle. The 2006 health related PAC & individual campaign donations total $3,420,285. With 41 members, this averages to roughly $83,500 per committee representative. Chairman Bill Thomas did much better than average, hauling in $234,450 from the health industry. Health Subcommittee Chair Nancy Johnson did more than twice as well as her boss with $540,000 in health related contributions. Do bills need to originate in the subcommittee to make it further in the legislative process?

The Senate Finance Committee is a fundraising juggernaut relative to its House counterpart, raising over $8.7 million from health care interests. This averages $435,000 per Finance Committee member. Chairman Chuck Grassley netted roughly $969,000 from the health care sector.

Representative William Jefferson must be disappointed to be out of the game so early, only halfway up the seniority chart for his Democratic team. As a below average health sector fundraiser, getting only $55,700 in 2006 donations, William looked as if had found a niche in dialysis. Then the House yanks him out of the game! Without that cushy Ways & Means assignment how is Rep. Jefferson gonna rake in the campaign ka-ching? My guess is he was booted to keep the cash flowing for the other members. Now who wants to work on their dialysis fielding? Batter up!

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