When Oklahoma 2nd District Congressman Dan Boren, D-Seminole, voted for the first version of the Wall Street bailout package, he had been well compensated by those whom he would help, according to a watchdog group.
That initial plan, championed by President Bush, failed.
“I voted in support of the legislation because I believe the American banking system is at risk of total failure,” Boren said in a statement. “Although Congress voted down the proposed financial package (Sept. 29), there is little disagreement that something must be done. Our country currently faces arguably the largest economic emergency in our history.”
In that vote, Boren teamed up across party lines with 4th District Congressman Tom Cole, R-Moore, who expressed disappointment that the first version did not pass.
“I am disappointed Congress couldn’t come together and pass this bipartisan compromise given the serious economic challenges we face,” Cole said in a statement. “The fact that the current president and both our major party presidential nominees were in favor of this legislation indicates the gravity of the situation ahead of us.”
CAMPAIGN DONATION STATISTICS
A factor not mentioned in their releases, however, is how much influence the banks yielded on their candidacies. According to campaign donation statistics from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, both Boren and Cole made more money from the finance, insurance and real estate sector than the rest of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation.
Records show that Boren collected $239,700 from such donors, according to the site, the lion’s share of Oklahoma’s representatives. Cole received $148,249, easily surpassing his fellow Oklahomans who voted against it, according to the site.
The Oklahoma representatives who voted against it initially had substantially less election compensation from the finance sector, records show. Respectively, the numbers showed the campaigns for Mary Fallin, R-OKC, collected $97,700; Frank Lucas, R-Stillwater, received $85,519; and John Sullivan, R-Tulsa, collected $59,150.
All told, House of Representatives members who supported the first bailout package received 51 percent more from the finance sector than those who voted against it, according to the Center.
“Today’s House vote was a reminder that ultimately it’s the Americans who elect members of Congress who have the most influence over them ” when they speak up with a loud voice,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. “In this case, money from the finance sector ” the biggest campaign contributor of all time ” seems to have played a part in lawmakers’ votes, but it didn’t win the day. Risking a seat in Congress for campaign cash isn’t worth it for politicians when the public is paying attention.”
FINANCE SECTOR CONTRIBUTIONS
Requests for interviews from both Boren and Cole about their finance sector contributions were denied. However, Boren spokesman Jeremy Hendricks defended Boren’s campaign donations.
“The congressman has broad support from a variety of sectors in the Oklahoma economy. He counts thousands of Oklahomans as contributors,” Hendricks said. “Oftentimes, the congressman’s campaign has received donations from groups on both sides of an issue with neither influencing his vote. He is proud to have one of the most independent voting records in the country.”
Fallin issued a strong statement against the first bailout plan that was voted down.
“I was elected to work and speak and vote for the people of the 5th District of Oklahoma,” Fallin said in a released statement. “I cannot tell my constituents in good conscience that the plan we saw (Sept. 29), a massively funded and lightly regulated government intrusion into private finance, is going to benefit the people who put me in office and who I am proud to represent.”
However, after voting against the package on Sept. 29, Fallin and Sullivan approved the Senate-passed version on Oct. 3, joining Boren and Cole.
“This latest incarnation of the bailout bill did offer provisions that made it a less bitter pill to swallow than the one we rejected earlier this week,” Fallin said in a statement.
Announcing his support of the revised plan, Sullivan said turmoil in the troubled financial sector would make its way to Oklahoma if left unchecked.
“Over the past few days, I heard from numerous businesses across the state that are having trouble maintaining existing lines of credit and furthermore, even applying for new lines of credit ” an issue that has the potential to place the jobs of Oklahomans in jeopardy,” Sullivan said in a statement.
Only Lucas voted against the first and second version. “Ben Fenwick