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January 26, 2003

OPEN SECRETS SPIN

The Dean Esmay site talks about
Politics as Usual. He quotes another site, Smarter Harper's, quoting data from the Open Secrets Web site. Open Secrets is a valuable source, except when it's read incorrectly.

The point Smarter and Dean were trying to make, is that rich people and big money support Democrats, and the middle class, small business owners and "real Americans" are the "backbone" of Republican support. It's the Democrats, which is the party of big money, they say.

As I posted in comments over at The Dean's site, you can take good data and make it bad. As he did. Smarter Harper's point was that it is a Democrat at the top of the individual donor's list and Democrat supporters hold the top seven or eight positions.

Great. That is a fact. But here's what that fact doesn't reveal and why Dean and SH draw false conclusions. First those numbers do not include money donated to PACs and lobbyists.Toddle on over to the Top Industry donors Open Secrets page and you get a different, but still highly factual, picture. That picture is that in the 2002 election cycle, Democrats received $183 million from industries (with lawyers at the top for Democrats). Republicans received $467 million. These figures do include PAC and lobbyist money.

True these are not absolute numbers. They represent donations from industries that are "D-leaning" or "R-leaning." But it still shows a wide disparity of big business in favor of Republicans, which has always been the point.

Even if the Democrats do receive large donations from rich people, they are not subservient to them - the Democrats still push to tax the rich. BECAUSE THEY CAN AFFORD IT. The rich seem to realize this overall too.
Go figure.
Also there was no mention of the painfully obvious link on the right of the Open Secrets homepage (at time of posting). The article at the end of the link is titled The House Money Built: House Republicans Reward Top Fund-Raisers with Committee Chairmanships

It begins:
January 16, 2003 | The Republican leadership's new roster of House committee chairmen has ruffled a few feathers on Capitol Hill. Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Texas) and Speaker Dennis Hastert (Ill.) abandoned the traditional method of choosing chairmen based on seniority and instead favored members who demonstrated both fundraising savvy and party loyalty.

DeLay and Hastert tapped five new members to fill vacant posts on the Armed Services, Resources, Government Reform and Agriculture Committees, as well as the newly-minted Homeland Security Committee. The five new chairmen aren't just any old members, either. They donated a total of more than $1 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee and contributed nearly $500,000 more to House and Senate candidates through their candidate committees and leadership PACs in the 2002 election cycle.


I added a permanent link on the left to Dean's site.