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Anti-wetlands PAC Contributions to the House of Representatives

Swamped With Cash: Anti-wetlands PAC Contributions to the House of Representatives

March 1, 1996

Anti-wetlands PACs have given considerable sums of money to influence current members of Congress. In the 1994 and 1996 campaign cycles (See Note 5,) anti-wetlands PACs associated with members of the National Wetlands Coalition and the American Petroleum Institute made $5.5 million in contributions to current members of the House of Representatives. (Table 4 and Table 5.)

These contributions appear to have yielded results in the legislative arena. An amendment offered on the House floor by Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) that would have restored a scientifically sound definition of wetlands to the Clean Water Act was defeated by a vote of 247 to 180. During the 1994 and 1996 election cycles, anti-wetlands PACs gave more than $4.1 million to members of the House who voted against the Gilchrest amendment, but only $1.15 million to members who voted for the Gilchrest amendment. (See Figure 3.) On average, members of the House who voted for the Gilchrest amendment received about $6,400 each over the period studied, as compared with nearly $17,000 each for members who voted against the amendent. (See Figure 4.)

Eighteen anti-wetlands PACs gave more than $100,000 over the 1994 and 1996 election cycles; their contributions were skewed heavily towards those who voted against the Gilchrest amendment. (See Figure 5.)

Of the 25 top recipients of anti-wetlands PAC money who voted on the Gilchrest amendment, 22 voted against Gilchrest (Table 6). Anti-wetlands PAC contributions during 1995 were particularly tilted in favor members who voted against the Gilchrest amendment: of members who voted against the Gilchrest amendment, 87 percent received anti-wetlands contributions during 1995, while just 55 percent of pro-Gilchrest voters received contributions during 1995. Even contributions to members of the House water and environment subcommittee, of which Rep. Gilchrest is a member, heavily favored members who voted against Rep. Gilchrest's amendment. (See Figure 6.)