Yesterday, the first-quarter FEC filing for Representative Anna Eshoo’s (D-CA) Political Action Committee, Peninsula PAC, was made public. The revelations therein should surprise no one in the post-Citizens United world. Eshoo, who has represented most of Silicon Valley since 1992, is raising funds through a PAC for the first time in her career, in a bid to replace retiring Rep. Henry Waxman as ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The vote among House Democrats to name Waxman’s replacement will take place sometime after mid-term elections this fall, but the contenders, Eshoo and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), have spent the first three months of 2014 stuffing their war chests. Pallone’s fundraising numbers will be released next week.
Eshoo has raised $203,000, the FEC filing shows. The list of contributors is a Who’s Who of Silicon Valley notables, including personal contributions from Larry Ellison ($5,000) and Colin Cromwell ($1,000), Twitter’s ‘Head of Global Public Policy’. Corporate contributions were made by the PACs belonging to Cisco ($5,000), Comcast ($2,500), eBay ($2,500), Google ($5,000), Hewlett-Packard ($5,000), Intel ($5,000), Microsoft ($1,000), Oracle ($5,000) as well as Sprint ($1,000), Comcast ($2,500), Time Warner ($2,500), T-Mobile ($5,000), Deloitte ($5,000), Johnson & Johnson ($2,500), Amgen ($5,000), and the AFL-CIO ($2,500).
All of this is completely legal and above board.
The Energy and Commerce Committee is one of Congress’ oldest, a standing committee with over 200 years of history. Its jurisdiction includes all interstate and foreign commerce and specifically telecommunications, consumer protection, public health, environmental health, energy, and food and drug safety.
While the amounts of money are miniscule considering the market capitalizations of many of the companies involved and the size of the lobbying ecosystem, it’s a sobering reminder of the monetization of the American democratic system and the codification of what many (but apparently not Justice John Roberts) consider corruption.
In this case we have a prominent Congresswoman in a bid to ascend to a leadership role of a major committee, raising funding among the firms within that committee’s jurisdiction, many of them headquartered within the district she represents. And no one bats an eye, because it’s business as usual.
During the 2012 campaign cycle, Microsoft led tech companies in federal campaign contributions, giving out $758,000. Google placed second with $578,500. By comparison, Goldman Sachs gave $3,717,992 to candidates during that cycle, so tech companies have some catching up to do.
Woodrow Wilson once said “it is not far from the truth to say that Congress in session is Congress on public exhibition, whilst Congress in its committee rooms is Congress at work.” Apparently these days the committee rooms are also corporate interests at play, as its hard to imagine that paying to place people in those rooms has no effect on what that work will be.
[image via house.gov]