It looks like congressional Republicans have seen MAPLight.org – the insanely useful money-for-votes tracker – and they like the idea. (Also see: National Association of Home Builders.) That idea being that money equals votes and votes equal money and therefore interests that they vote in favor of should kick back some campaign cash to reward their votes:
With the House Democrats’ refusal to grant retroactive immunity to phone companies — stalling the rewrite of the warrantless wiretapping program — GOP leadership aides are grumbling that their party isn’t getting more political money from the telecommunications industry.
Like most corporate interests with a heavy stake in Congressional action, the major phone companies significantly boosted their contributions to Democrats last year after the party surged back into the majority.
“When those numbers are made evident, it causes some angst,” one Republican lobbyist said. “Leadership are told by staff, who look through this. There’s communication back and forth” between GOP leadership and downtown.
“There’s no question that from time to time staff, and maybe some Members, say to fellow travelers: ‘Are you giving us some air cover? Are you helping us help you?’”
This situation highlights a potential difficulty in aligning campaign contributions for votes and, in return, votes for campaign contributions. There are two views by which one could look at this:
1) From the congressional Republican standpoint, it looks like they are getting stiffed in a tough election year by telecom companies even though they are voting to support the bottom line of those same companies. The Republicans expect that their support, by casting votes, should lead to campaign contributions. Conclusion: Voting a certain way gets you money.
2) From the telecom company perspective, Republicans are going to vote to support their interests no matter what, while Democrats are more likely to oppose them. Some of these Democrats could be swayed with cash in their coffers. So the money obviously goes to the members you need to influece, i.e., the Democrats. Conclusion: Money buys you votes.
While these two views usually line up (as depicted in the complicated diagram on the left), this instance shows that the money-for-votes, votes-for-money calculus does not always add up. Tough situation for congressional Republicans. I guess leaking a story with anonymous quotes is the other way to get campaign contributions in Washington.