It’s Good to be in Congress

It’s good to be in Congress. According to a new report released today, more than 240 organizations spent nearly $20 million honoring federal officials and the organizations close to them last year.

The Hill analyzed Senate disclosure records and looked at gifts by unions, universities, corporations and other groups. Beyond the money, they also highlighted loopholes in the Congressional gift ban and limits on campaign contributions.

A few highlights from the investigation:

  • More than 240 organizations spent nearly $20 million
  • Some of the more than 100 different organizations that received contributions also had federal officials on their boards
  • Chevron gave $50,000 directly to the State Department in May. “It is legal for corporations to give money directly to agencies in many cases,” the report notes.
  • The largest recipients with ties to members of Congress: The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation ($2.8 million) and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute ($2.4 million)

Perhaps most interesting in the report are the number of sources and compliance lawyers that said “confusion does exist” about which expenses should be disclosed, and also that there is “no real enforcement” to ensure proper reporting.

In short: this is only part of the picture.

Troubling news like this is why we support holding everyone accountable, including candidates, public officials and organizations across the political and ideological spectrum. It’s also why we support full transparency and real-time disclosure of contributions, and putting in place common-sense rules to combat conflicts of interest.

Read the report in full in The Hill.