Sen. Trent Lott’s reform induced decision to forgo further representation for the people of Mississippi is creating a hole in the Senate Republican leadership team as Lott is the Minority Whip. Lott’s resignation has already caused Republican Conference Chair Jon Kyl to announce his ambitions to be the next Minority Whip and Sen. Lamar Alexander, who lost by one vote to Lott for the position, is also expected to toss his plaid shirt into the race. Seeing as how we have a whole host of resources, many of them Insanely Useful, it seems appropriate to see what these resources have to say about these characters. Let’s start with a cursory look at Sen. Jon Kyl.
In contrast to the retiring Lott, Sen. Kyl is an ardent foe of earmark opacity and has joined his fellow Republicans in fighting for more disclosure and less spending in Washington. Nonetheless, Kyl, like most Senators, still inserts earmarks into appropriations legislation. He is by no means prolific in his earmarking, in fact spending items inserted solely by the Senator total less than $30 million. Taxpayers for Common Sense hosts databases for all the 2007 appropriations bills. This list of Kyl’s earmarks was compiled from the TCS databases.
While Kyl is not a prolific earmarker is certainly a big fundraiser having raised over $15 million for his 2006 Senate race victory. Over the years Sen. Kyl has relied on law and lobby firms – Kyl is a former lobbyist himself – and ideological organizations, the Club for Growth in particular, for big dollar donation events. During the last cycle, Kyl was aided by a fly-in visit from President Bush where Viad Corp. employees showered the Senator with over $30,000 in contributions. Viad Corp. teamed up with the law/lobby firm Snell & Wilmer, which employs no less than 4 former Kyl employees, to sponsor another event that brought in the big bucks for Kyl. Here’s a look at Kyl’s biggest contributors from the 2006 cycle:
Open Secrets also hosts databases on the personal finances and private travel of members of Congress. Kyl isn’t one of the wealthiest members ranking as the 91st richest Senator – or more precisely, the 9th poorest Senator. Kyl’s listed personal finances show him to be worth between $76K and $316K, nothing when compared to the $200 million net worth of Sen. Herb Kohl, the richest Senator. According to the travel database, Kyl has only traveled to attend an American Enterprise Institute retreat in Colorado. His staff makes up for the other 14 trips listed under his name. The OS Revolving Door database also shows that four staffers from Kyl’s office have gone on to become lobbyists.
FedSpending.org shows that Arizona received over $10 billion in federal government contracts, the biggest recipients being Raytheon and TriWest Healthcare Alliance. Both Raytheon and TriWest were cosponsors of the Viad Corp. and Snell & Wilmer fundraiser. These two obviously rely on contracts in this state so they know that the powers the be need to get reelected.
If you find any connections in these databases please add them in the comments. We’ll see what else the databases hold in store for Kyl and his possible challenger(s) for the Minority Whip spot.