Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Conrad's Out Of State Money Machine

I decided to take another look at Conrad Burn's finances. There is a lot of good information to be had from OpenSecrets.org and I did some of my own number crunching from data posted on Conrad Burn's reelection site.

According to opensecrets, Burns war chest is at $6,786,221, while Tester is at $1,714,055. Surely this means that Burns has a lot more contributors from Montana, which one could translate into higher support? Not so much.

To start with, Burns has gotten 35% of his money from political action committees (PACS). These are organizations that are formed to donate to candidates of their choice in order to help influence elections. According data reported on his website, Burns has received 183 such PAC contributions since May 1 of this year. Less than 2% of the total money received from PAC's were from inside Montana. More troubling is the company he keeps with PACs. They range from benign construction interests to Tobacco companies like RJ Reynolds and Lorillard Tobacco. One of the most disturbing facts is the number of big oil and energy companies jumping on the Burns bandwagon. Companies like Exxon Mobil, Shell and Anadarko have contributed to Burn's war chest. For a more complete listing, see this post.

While 86% of Jon Tester's donations come from individuals, only 56% of Burn's donations come from individuals. 56% of Burn's war chest is still larger than 86% of Tester's, so that must still show wide support in Montana? Again, not so much. From the data from Burn's website for donations over $500 between Jan 1 of 2006 and Aug 4 of 2006 I calculated the following:

Montana: 18.5%
other: 81.4%

This shows that Burns has gotten just over 18% of his donations from Motanan's, the rest are from out of state. Who is trying to buy Mr Burn's way back into office? According to OpenSecrets, it would be DC (with almost twice as much money to Burns as any other city), New York, LA and Denver. In fact, Billings is the only Montana city that even appears on the top 5 list.

I am not sure about you, but I want my representatives to have more allegiance to me than to big oil, big tobacco or Washington DC. I want someone in office who will be there to represent me and my fellow Montanans, not out of state interests.

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