Meet The Corporate Chairmen: Incoming Committee Chairs Have Deep Ties To Lobbyists And Big Business

One of the results of Tuesday’s Republican takeover of the House of Representatives is the future installation of new chairmen in the chamber’s various committees. While none of the upcoming chairmanships are set in stone — members have to run and be elected to chair committees — it is generally true that ranking members of these committees are the ones most likely to take over.

Today, the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity (CPI) released a report titled “The Chairmen: New House Leaders Have Familiar Ties to Business, Revolving Door,” which takes a close look at the likely incoming chairmen of the various House committees. The CPI report finds that most of the likely incoming chairs “have deep ties to the business community or the industries they will soon oversee.” Here are some of the highlights of these possible chairmen with “deep ties” to lobbyists and big business:

— Likely House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Chairman Rep. Bill Young (FL): Young’s top Political Action Committee (PAC) donations over the past two election cycles read like a list of the nation’s top defense contractors. He has received $32,500 from Raytheon, $25,000 from General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin, and $20,000 from Boeing and Honeywell International. Additionally, at least five of his staffers have gone on to work as lobbyists. Last year, he requested earmarks for “earmarks for companies that hired three of his former staffers as lobbyists. The same companies, along with senior executive staff, contributed about $145,000 to Young’s campaign that same year.”

— Likely Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Howard McKeon (CA): McKeon, whose committe would also deal with defense-related issues, is also a major recipient of defense industry PAC money. In the past two election cycles, he has received $40,000 from General Atomics, $34,000 from Lockheed Martin, and $32,500 from Northrop Grumman. He is a co-founder of Congress’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Caucus, which backs the construction of military vehicles that Northrop Grumman manufactures within his district. His former legislative assistant Hanz Heinrichs has “lobbied on behalf of Alcoa, Boeing, and Ashbury International Group.”


— Likely Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Spencer Bachus (AL): Bachus’s top PAC contributors are Bank of America and Wells Fargo, which have given him $45,000 and $35,000 respectively over the past four years. He has in the recent past made a specific request of financial lobbyists to give more to Republican candidates, saying Democrats “hammered” the financial industry with their financial regulatory reform legislation.

— Likely Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica (FL): Mica, the likely incoming chairman of the committee dealing with the country’s transportation infrastructure, has been a magnet over the past four years of PAC donations related to the industries the committee regulates. That includes $40,000 from BNSF Railway Company, $33,000 from Union Pacific Corporation, and $25,000 from CSX Corporation.

— Likely Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rep. Doc Hastings (WA): Hastings is in line to run the committee that “oversees federal land use and public water resources.” A number of industry PACs that would be overseen by the committee have contributed generously to the congressman. In the last two election cycles, Weyerhaeuser Company, a timber firm, has contributed $20,000. Bechtel Group, which is a major construction company and has interests in water systems, has contributed $17,000. American Crystal Sugar Company, an agricultural cooperative, has given the same amount. Martin Doern, Hastings’s former Legislative Director, is now a lobbyist for Portland General Electric.

— Likely Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Joe Barton (TX): Barton’s most famous act of corporate fealty is apologizing to oil giant BP for government effots to hold it accountable following the company’s oil spill in the Gulf Coast. Barton has received $37,500 from the PAC of oil giant Koch Industries since 2007. At least half a dozen of his former staffers have gone into lobbying work. In 2008, he secured “$2 million earmark for Carbon-Carbon Advanced Technologies, a company located inside his district. He secured the firm another $3.2 million in 2010.”

CPI notes that eight “of the 14 candidates for the committee chairs got the majority of their campaign funds since 2007 from special interest PACs.” It also goes on to note, interestingly, that “the top contenders are all men. Nearly all are white,” and when it comes to social demographics, “the likely Republican chairs don’t look much different than the Democratic counterparts they are replacing.”