Since the 1990 election cycle, the finance, insurance and real estate sector (FIRE) has donated over $2.3 billion to federal political campaigns, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. This total makes the FIRE sector far and away the biggest contributor to federal campaigns of any sector. Over the same period of time, senators received a total in excess of $400 million. The Senate is set to begin debate on reforms to regulations governing the financial sector in the coming weeks. These are the largest career recipients of campaign contributions from the FIRE sector.
The two top recipients are Sens. John McCain and John Kerry, both previous failed presidential candidates. Six of the top 20 career recipients currently serve on the Senate Banking Committee. These include chairman Chris Dodd and ranking member Richard Shelby and Sens. Chuck Schumer, Robert Menendez, Evan Bayh and Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Other top recipients include senators hailing from states with large concentrations of financial businesses. Schumer of New York is the most obvious example. Dodd and Joe Lieberman both hail from Connecticut, a state with numerous insurance industry companies in residence. Sen. John Thune hails from South Dakota, the home to many credit card companies.
Party leadership and key committee chairs also occupy spots in the top 20 recipients. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell both find themselves in the top 20. Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus is also a top recipient.