Study: Business PACs Favor GOP

Republicans have raised nearly twice as much PAC money from business interests as Democrats through the first three-quarters of the election cycle, and have outraised them in soft money and large individual donations as well, the Center for Responsive Politics said today.

According to a study of contributions through June 30 to congressional campaigns, political parties and the two major presidential candidates, the financial sector led the PAC giving -- dispensing nearly two-thirds of its $59.8 million in donations to Republicans. The business PAC tilt toward the GOP is a change from past campaigns, when funds generally were divided equally between the parties.

Overall, Philip Morris gave the largest total amount with $2.7 million, including $2.1 million in soft money. AT&T followed with $2.1 million in total contributions, with the Association of Trial Lawyers of America just behind. Five labor unions made the top 10 list, along with RJR Nabisco and the American Medical Association. The center tracked $242 million from business, $35 million from labor and $10.6 million from ideological groups.

While the 1994 House freshman class swept into office on a wave of anti-special interest sentiment, its members so far have received nearly half of their campaign donations from political committees and out-of-state contributors, according to a separate Associated Press analysis of campaign finance records through June 30. Overall, 46 percent of the freshman class' funds came from outside the members' states or from political committees, significantly up from the one-third of their contributions that came from these sources in their 1994 races.

Most of the political committee money came from PACs, with a small amount donated by party committees. "They came to Washington to shake it up and they stayed to shake it down," Common Cause President Ann McBride told the AP. Of the 86 freshmen running for re-election, 23 received more than half of their campaign funds from PACs or out-of-state contributors. Five freshmen will not accept PAC donations, but many others who slammed the special interest money before they were incumbents now say they need the funds to compete for re-election, the AP said.

Meanwhile, the nonpartisan Campaign Reform Project is pushing the presidential candidates and the hopefuls in two House races and one Senate contest to make their campaign finance information more accessible to voters. The group took out full-page ads Tuesday in local newspapers in the House races between Rep. Sam Gejdenson, D-Conn., and Republican Edward Munster; Rep. Dan Frisa, R-N.Y., and Democrat Carolyn McCarthy; and the Senate race between Rep. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Republican Al Salvi. Another ad ran in the San Diego Union-Tribune in anticipation of Wednesday's presidential debate.

While campaign finance information is on file at the FEC, the ad urges the candidates to make the data more accessible and understandable to voters. Another round of ads will be placed before Election Day, and the group also plans to place a national ad.

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