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Accounting's Favorite Candidates

Top recipients of accounting profession political donations in the Senate

Political fundraisers for the accounting profession are quietly placing heavy bets on the outcome of this year’s critical Senate elections -- with almost $1 million in donations split more or less evenly between Democrats and Republicans, and between men and women, too.

Here’s the accounting profession’s new “Top Ten” list of political favorite sons (and daughters) in this year’s battle for control of the U.S. Senate.

— Ken Rankin

10. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio): $30,000 10. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio): $30,000

A member of the Senate Banking Committee, Brown chairs that panel’s Subcommittee on Economic Policy. After serving in the House, he was elected to the Senate during the Democratic sweep of 2006 and is now facing his first Senate reelection test. Brown tied for first place in The National Journal’s rankings of the Senate’s most liberal members. Despite receiving support from normally conservative CPA political action committees, The Washington Post reported that no candidate running for re-election in the Senate has faced more opposition from outside fundraising PACs during this election.

9. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.): $32,500 9. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.): $32,500

The only non-incumbent among accounting’s top ten favorite Senate sons and daughters, ex-Air Force fighter pilot Wilson is a former House member and the first female military veteran elected to a full term in Congress. While in the House she served on both the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. In seeking the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Jeff Bingaman, Wilson is considered the underdog in her campaign against New Mexico Congressman Martin Heinrich.

8. Ben Cardin (D-Md.): $34,499 8. Ben Cardin (D-Md.): $34,499

Cardin is an influential member of the Senate Finance Committee and one of the few members of Congress to have seen service both on that panel and on the House Ways and Means Committee. The Maryland Democrat -- rated the third most liberal member of the Senate by The National Journal -- also serves on the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight.

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7. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine): $37,500 7. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine): $37,500

Another high-profile “dry hole” for the industry’s PAC men, who collectively channeled over $37,000 to Snowe’s re-election campaign before the moderate Maine Republican announced her decision to retire at the end of the current term. Named one of the ten best U.S. Senators by Time magazine, Snowe attracted the attention of the accounting industry after becoming the first Republican woman to secure a full-term seat on the Senate Finance Committee. She also serves as the second ranking GOP member of the Finance Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight.

6. Scott Brown (R-Mass.): $38,499 6. Scott Brown (R-Mass.): $38,499

Brown shocked Massachusetts and the nation in 2010 by capturing the seat long held by the late Democratic icon, Senator Ted Kennedy. Brown’s victory complicated, but ultimately failed to derail, the administration’s efforts to enact Obamacare. Brown is the ranking Republican member of the Senate’s Homeland Security Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, and he faces a tough re-election battle against financial service regulatory advocate Elizabeth Warren.

5. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.): $37,999 5. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.): $37,999

An influential member of the Senate Finance Committee, Stabenow is now the Senate’s third ranking Democrat and chair of the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee -- a post vacated by then-New York Senator Hillary Clinton in 2008. This November she faces only light competition from the GOP’s foot-in-mouth challenger, Pete Hoekstra.

4. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.): $38,500 4. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.): $38,500

The senior U.S. Senator from California, Feinstein serves on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee and chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee. The former San Francisco mayor will face only token opposition in November from the Republican candidate, autism activist Elizabeth Emken.

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3. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.): $40,500 3. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.): $40,500

After serving several terms in the House, Gillibrand was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Hillary Clinton when she left the Senate in 2008 to run for President. The New York Democrat is a member of the Senate’s Blue Dog Coalition of fiscally conservative Democrats.

2. Jon Tester (D-Mont.): $42,500 2. Jon Tester (D-Mont.): $42,500

Up for re-election this year after narrowly winning his Senate seat in 2006, Tester is considered a staunch supporter of President Obama’s legislative agenda. He chairs the Senate Banking Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Policy and also serves on the panel’s Subcommittee on Financial Institutions. If Tesler is re-elected and the Democrats hold on to control over the Senate, he figures to play an increasing rule in Federal financial policy.

1. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.): $52,000 1. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.): $52,000

The driest of the “dry holes” for accounting’s political fundraisers was Indiana Republican Dick Lugar. A fixture in the Senate for more than three decades, Lugar faced the political challenge of his life early this year when Hoosier Tea Party activists moved to unseat him in favor of Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock. The big accounting PACs rallied to Lugar’s aid with more than $50,000 in campaign support, but Mourdock captured the nomination with a shocking landslide victory.



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