As the 111th Congress grapples with tax legislation and other issues of concern to CPAs, more than a few House and Senate leaders are likely be feeling a deeper appreciation for the accounting profession.At least that's what political fundraisers for the profession are hoping for after contributing a record $5.5 million dollars to support congressional candidates during the 2008 election campaign.
An exclusive Accounting Today analysis of Federal Election Commission records found that much of those contributions - a whopping $2.1 million worth - was paid out by accounting profession political action committees during the frantic final weeks of the campaign.
And the heftiest donations were earmarked for key House and Senate leaders who will be making critical decisions on issues of concern to accountants over the next two years.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., won re-election with the help of $42,000 in donations from accounting PACs; Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., received $32,500 from the profession; and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., collected $60,000.
In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was given $37,000, while Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., received $45,266 in campaign support.
PACs sponsored by the American Institute of CPAs and several leading accounting firms also shelled out healthy campaign donations to support congressional Republicans.
House GOP leader John Boehner, of Ohio, received $40,000 for his re-election bid, while Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala. - the ranking Republican on the Financial Services Committee - collected $49,500 from industry PACs.
Fellow House Financial Services Committee member Michele Bachmann, a first-term Minnesota Republican who survived a stormy campaign controversy after she labeled then-candidate Barack Obama's views "anti-American," pocketed $46,500 in contributions from accounting industry PACs.
Since the overwhelming majority of congressional candidates supported by the profession's political fundraisers were incumbents, it's not surprising that most who received donations from industry PACs won re-election and will be serving on Capitol Hill again this year.
The profession's track record in picking winners isn't perfect, however.
Several high-profile Senate candidates supported by accounting PACs - including North Carolina Republican Elizabeth Dole ($48,000 in industry campaign contributions) and Minnesota Republican Norm Coleman ($47,000) - aren't around in the new Congress.
As in past years, the bulk of the accounting industry's campaign contributions went to Republicans. During the 2008 election cycle, GOP candidates were on the receiving end of 58 percent of the dollars doled out by the industry's PACs. But with Democrats firmly in control of both the House and Senate, accounting's tendency to support congressional Republicans has slipped from the nearly two-to-one ratio that GOPers enjoyed in previous campaigns.
Despite their record-setting contributions to members of the new Congress, accounting industry political fundraisers managed to keep plenty of cash in reserve for the 2010 elections.
Together, the eight PACs tracked by Accounting Today will enter the next election cycle with a combined war chest of more than $2.5 million.
Here's how those industry PACs sort out now:
* The AICPA's PAC raised more than $877,000 for members of the 111th Congress, and paid out just over $801,000 to House and Senate candidates. Republicans received 59 percent of that, and the institute's PAC has over $140,000 on hand for the 2010 election cycle.
* PricewaterhouseCoopers' PAC emerged as the profession's most active political fundraising organization, collecting more than $2.3 million to support candidates in last fall's elections. PwC donated a total of $1.442 million to House and Senate hopefuls, with 58 percent of that money earmarked for Republicans. PwC has nearly $400,000 in reserve for the next election.
* Deloitte & Touche's political fundraisers collected $2.3 million for the 2008 campaign, and paid out $1.4 million of that to congressional candidates. Democrats received 44 percent of those funds, and the D&T PAC will enter the 2010 election cycle with a political war chest containing a whopping $1.2 million.
* Ernst & Young's PAC raised a total of more than $1.5 million over the past two years, and paid out $717,000 to candidates for House and Senate seats. Republicans collected 56 percent of those contributions, and E&Y has $242,000 on hand for the next election.
* KPMG's PAC raised more than $1.8 million and contributed nearly $1.1 million of that to federal candidates in the 2008 elections. The PAC, which favors Republicans by a 60-40 margin, will have more than $196,000 in reserve for the 2001 election cycle.
* Grant Thornton's PAC raised more than $243,000 for federal candidates since the 2006 elections, and contributed almost $100,000 to House and Senate candidates for the 111th Congress. Democrats received 47 percent of those funds, and the GT PAC has $124,000 on hand for the next campaign.
* The National Society of Accountants' PAC collected over $45,000 for the 2008 election campaign but contributed only $9,000 of that to candidates - all of them Democrats. NSA fundraisers will have over $167,000 in the kitty for 2010.
* The smaller PAC sponsored by Moss Adams raised no funds during the 2008 election cycle, and supported no congressional candidates. It did, however, draw $5,000 from its $27,000 reserves to support GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney during the primaries.
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