Every week or two I read another article in Roll Call, the Hill or the Politico on the increasing clout of the Blue Dog caucus. Today's came out in Roll Call, titled 'Blue Dogs' Bite Gets Stronger'. Anna Palmer's article opens with the sentence, "Blue Dogs get ready: The ranks of obsequious lobbyists looking to curry favor - and contribute to your war chest - is set to explode." The article also dubs Blue Dogs 'pro-business' and 'fiscally conservative'.
Since the 2006 elections, the Blue Dog political action committee has become one of the fastest growing, and is among the largest in Democratic leadership. Already it has nearly doubled its fundraising this cycle from the $1.2 million raised in 2006. This cycle, through the end of May, it had raised more than $2.2 million, according to CQ MoneyLine.
That puts it nearly on a par with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's (D-Md.) AMERIPAC, which as of the end of April had raised more than $2.2 million.
"We've always been fairly successful with fundraising, even when we were in the minority," said Vickie Walling, chief of staff to Tennessee Rep. John Tanner, a founding member of the group.
Going on to the FEC site lets you see the truth about the Blue Dog PAC - 85% of its money - $1.95M - comes from conservative corporate interests. The list is pretty standard. Walmart, Verizon, AT&T, Charter, Comcast, US Chamber of Commerce, Raytheon, Boeing, etc. And Steny Hoyer's PAC - AmeriPAC - isn't much better. Roughly 65% of his money comes from PACs, most of them similar to the ones flooding the coffers of Blue Dogs - Raytheon, AT&T, Boeing, etc.
From Hoyer and the Blue Dog PAC the money spreads outward. Just check out the list of candidates and committees Hoyer supports, from the Congressional Black Caucus to conservatives like John Barrow, Al Wynn, Don Cazayoux, Larry Kissell, Brad Ellsworth, and the Blue Dogs to progressives like John Hall, Dennis Schulman, Jim Himes, and Darcy Burner.
Now don't get me wrong, I like a lot of the people that Hoyer gives to, which is the point. We've endorsed some of them on our Better Democrats page. It's just important to note that much of the capital funding the Democratic Party is corporate PAC money, sluiced through figures such as Steny Hoyer and the Blue Dog caucus.
This has real consequences, for the business community. Check out the roll call for the net neutrality amendment that went down to defeat in 2006, 269-152. Blue Dogs voted against it, by and large, which is not so much pro-business as it is pro-telecom and cable industry and anti-technology and innovation. Or if you look at the people protecting the large tax credits for oil and gas, just check out the Blue Dog caucus and you'll find a good number in there. And telecom immunity matters deeply to businesses that don't break the law.
The sluicing funds within the Democratic Party represent relationships that make it really easy to go along with the status quo. They are at their heart network systems, dense thickets built to withstand change. I'm really quite excited about some new mapping tools I saw at Personal Democracy Forum which will help us understand just how dense the networks are, on all sides.