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Response to lark (Reply #4)

Sun Oct 31, 2021, 09:19 AM

5. When they don't vote to support Democratic policies, there's a problem. The data show...

Sinema and Manchin Flush With Lobbyist Contributions as They Hold Up Biden Agenda

By Matthias Rémy Lalisse
Data for Progress, Oct. 28, 2019

Amid ongoing Build Back Better negotiations, lobbyists have stepped up their contributions to Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, the sole Democratic holdouts against advancing the Biden agenda through the Senate.

Manchin and Sinema are the 2018 Senate class’s top recipients of contributions from lobbyists. In the first half of 2021, Sinema (first elected to the Senate in 2018) received $408,000 in contributions from lobbyists, 150% of what she received at the same time last year despite not being up for re-election until 2024. Manchin (re-elected in 2018) received $512,000 from lobbyists, nearly three times as much as last year. Together, the two top the list of their Senate cohort—both Democrats and Republicans—in donations from lobbyists, which include direct campaign contributions from lobbyist and/or lobbyist-controlled PACs, costs of lobbyists attending/organizing fundraisers, or sponsorship of events promoting Manchin or Sinema.

To place these quantities in perspective, the typical six-year electoral cycle means that Senate candidates receive the highest volume of lobbyist contributions in the year or two running up to their elections, followed by a trough until the next cycle. Manchin’s 2021 contributions are now at the same level as his election year, and Sinema has received a steady stream of lobbyist money into her coffers since taking office. Both are taking in lobbyist contributions at more than three times the rate of the average Senator.

The data presented provides real-time evidence that Sinema and Manchin’s obstruction of the Biden agenda is being rewarded by lobbyists seeking to influence their legislative priorities. In this case, those priorities are to smother provisions like negotiated pharmaceutical pricing through Medicare and a just transition to renewable energy, measures that directly target the interests of Big Pharma and Big Oil. This comes as new DFP polling shows Sinema at a severe disadvantage for a potential primary challenger in 2024.

Sold to Arizona voters in 2018 as a former Green Party activist with a working-class personal history, Sinema has acquired a new reputation for cozying up to donors lobbyists. But in reality, Sinema’s Senate campaign was always powered by big donors. According to FEC filings, only 16% of the summed direct contributions to Sinema’s campaign PAC came from donations of less than $500. In 2021, that amount has dropped to 7.5%. Manchin’s campaign contributions are even more dominated by large donors, with only 1.6% of 2021 receipts coming from small contributions.

As Sinema and Manchin continue to obstruct the Biden agenda, we cannot ignore the influence that lobbyist contributions are having on their votes. Such obstruction of highly popular policies is likely to impact their electoral prospects in 2024 and beyond.


Under the 1995 Lobbying Disclosure Act, lobbyists are required to register as such and to report any contributions to political officeholders/candidates, including personal donations, purchase of tickets to fundraisers, and contributions made from lobbyist-controlled PACs. Data were extracted from the publicly Form LD-203 filings, which require lobbyists to report a series of contribution types including personal contributions to the candidates, ones routed through PACs that the lobbyist founded or controls, as well as any spending on events honoring a legislator. Using the LDA API, we pulled all Form 203 filings from 2015-2021, eliminated duplicates/amendments, and extracted contributions aimed at each Senator using string matches mapped to a database of legislators. If the last name was unique among all legislators (e.g. Feinstein, Tester, Sinema, Manchin), we matched the last name. When there were duplicate last names (e.g. Sen. Sherrod Brown, Reps. Corinne Brown and Anthony Brown), we matched to all versions of the Senators’ names as they can appear in the disclosures ("Sherrod Brown", "Brown, Sherrod" ).

Matthias Lalisse (@MatthiasLalisse) is a data scientist, organizer, and recent PhD grad in Computational Cognitive Science from Johns Hopkins University.
OCTOBER 27, 2021

Source: https://www.dataforprogress.org/blog/2021/10/27/sinema-and-manchin-flush-with-lobbyist-contributions

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