Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent a letter to House and Senate leadership Wednesday, calling on the members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to avoid all fundraising activity while serving on the committee. The group of 12 members of Congress are tasked with finding $1.5 trillion in spending cuts over the coming months.
Some observers, including CREW, worry that special interests and re-election fundraising could hamper honest negotiations within the committee. Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington is one committee member who has attracted such criticism since she also chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. (RELATED: Dem lawmaker wastes no time taking advantage of super committee post)
“While this is an issue for all super committee members, it is more pronounced for Sen. Murray, who is also the chief fundraiser for Senate Democrats,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan in a statement.
The Daily Caller also recently reported that one appointee, Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra of California, touted his membership on the committee in a fundraising mailer just a few hours after his name was announced.
“Americans need to have confidence that the solutions offered by the super committee represent the best interest of all Americans,” said Sloan.
“Decisions that benefit any super committee members’ contributors will be suspect, whether or not the donations really had any influence,” added Sloan. “Americans already — and with ample justification — believe Congress is captive to special interests. Requiring super committee members to eschew campaign donations during the short period the committee will be operating will help instill Americans’ confidence in its work.”
Another organization called MapLight, which exists solely to expose the influence of money in politics, recently released an analysis of past donations to the members of the super committee. Their analysis found that of all the 12 members, the top ten industry contributors include health professionals, education, securities and investment, and women’s issues.
The top organization contributors to the 12 members include General Electric, Club for Growth, Goldman Sachs and Microsoft Corp.
Two Republican Senators, David Vitter of Louisiana and Dean Heller of Nevada, have already introduced legislation that would require committee members to report donations of $1,000 or more within 48 hours.