Political fundraisers for the accounting profession have already contributed nearly $6 million to the campaigns of more than 300 candidates in this fall's congressional elections, including House and Senate hopefuls from both political parties and every spot on the American political spectrum.Donations from the accounting industry's free-spending political action committees have been spread around to an assortment of candidates, ranging from liberal Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Barney Frank, to arch-conservative Mississippi Republican Sen. Trent Lott.
But an exclusive Accounting Today analysis of U.S. Federal Election Commission records shows that the profession's strongest campaign support has been earmarked for a handful of powerful and well-positioned congressional incumbents who figure to be helpful in advancing the accounting industry's legislative agenda in the 110th Congress.
The analysis tracked contributions made to individual candidates in the 2006 mid-term congressional elections by PACs created by the American Institute of CPAs, the National Society of Accountants, Deloitte & Touche, Ernst & Young, KPMG, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Grant Thornton.
Although federal election law limits PAC contributions for an individual candidate to $10,000 per election cycle ($5,000 in the primary plus $5,000 in the general election), accounting industry political fundraisers have managed to pay out a combined total of more than $456,000 in direct campaign support to their top 10 "favorite sons and daughters" on Capitol Hill.
Accounting Today's analysis, which reflects PAC donations reported to the FEC through July 2006, discovered the following about the profession's 10 favorite candidates in this year's congressional elections:
* Accounting's favorite politicians are overwhelmingly Republican (with only one being a Democrat), and every one is an incumbent;
* The industry's PAC money tends to flow to legislators in powerful GOP leadership positions, even if they face light opposition at the polls;
* A seat on the House committee responsible for legislation of concern to accountants tends to attract attention from the industry's PACs;
* Candidates who are former CPAs with major firms may also have an inside track; and,
* It doesn't hurt if you're rumored to be a possible presidential candidate in 2008.
Topping the list of accounting's congressional favorites in the 2006 elections is one of the profession's own: California CPA John Campbell, who last year won a special election for the congressional seat vacated when former Rep. Chris Cox left the House to become chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Here's the complete roster of the accounting industry's favorites in Washington, including the total amounts contributed to each by the profession's PACs:
1. Rep. John B.T. Campbell III, R-Calif: $55,467. A former tax accountant with Ernst & Young, Campbell is a freshman Republican congressman from California's 48th District. Campbell is a member of the California Society of CPAs, serves on the House Financial Services Committee, and is the lead sponsor of legislation to make the moratorium on Internet taxation permanent.
2. Rep. Deborah Pryce,
R-Ohio: $50,498. A key member of the House Financial Services Committee and one of the House Republican deputy whips, Pryce has represented Ohio's 15th Congressional District since 1993. An attorney and former municipal court judge before her election to Congress, Price chairs the House Republican Conference. She faces a tough re-election battle against her Democratic rival, Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy.
3. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo: $50,000. Former university president Blunt is now majority whip, the third-highest position in the House. He is responsible for corralling the votes necessary to complete the Republican agenda, and played a key role in the passage of the Bush administration's $1.35 trillion tax cut. Blunt represents Missouri's 7th Congressional District, and is the chief sponsor of legislation to sweeten existing tax incentives for charitable contributions.
4. Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill: $50,000. As speaker of the House, Hastert is the third-highest-ranking elected official in the U.S. government, and third in line for presidential succession. He represents the 14th District in Illinois, and has served in Congress for 20 years. Although his seat is considered "safe," Hastert's leadership position attracts substantial support from political action committees in and out of the accounting industry.
5. Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va: $48,000. Another top House GOP leader, Cantor is chief deputy majority whip - the highest appointed position in the House. Representing the 7th District of Virginia, Cantor serves on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee and is the chief sponsor of a number of major tax bills, including legislation to make permanent the individual income tax rates for capital gains and dividends.
6. Rep. Clay Shaw, R.-Fla: $46,203. Veteran Representative Clay Shaw is second in line for the chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, and the sponsor of a variety of key tax legislation, including his bill to expand educational savings accounts. Despite his seniority, Shaw is in a tough re-election battle after drawing fire for refusing to return campaign contributions from ex-House
Majority Leader Tom Delay's ARMPAC fundraising group.
7. Ex-Rep. Tom Delay, R-Texas: $44,950. Before he resigned his congressional seat in the wake of the influence peddling scandals involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff, former GOP House Majority Leader Tom Delay collected campaign contributions of $5,000 to $10,000 from each of the major accounting PACs. Despite his departure from Congress, the former Texas congressman known as "the Hammer" continues to rank No. 1 in receipts of contributions from lobbyists and PACs for the election cycle.
8. Rep. Mark Kennedy, R-Minn: $42,200. A former CPA at Arthur Andersen, three-term Congressman Mark Kennedy is a member of the House Financial Services Committee and a self-described "unflinching backer of tax cuts." Kennedy holds a Bachelor's degree in accounting from St. John's University, and has sponsored legislation to provide federal income tax credits for the purchase of health insurance.
9. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y: $41,125. The former First Lady and current junior senator from New York is the only Democrat to make the Top 10 list. Despite the fact that she's up for re-election this year, Hillary is an overwhelming favorite to get another term and needs the accounting industry's PAC money to protect her Senate seat about as much as she needs another husband in Arkansas. However, she's raising a campaign war chest that already exceeds $1 million for possible use in the 2008 presidential race.
10. Sen. George Allen, R-Va: $28,500. Another potential 2008 presidential hopeful, Allen is actively seeking political action committee financing to bankroll his candidacy. According to the latest FEC reports, Allen ranks third (behind only Clinton and Pennsylvania GOPer Rick Santorum) among the 100 U.S. senators in terms of campaign contributions from lobbyists and lobbying firm PACs.
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