Blue Dog Dems Rake in Health Care Contributions, Protest Exclusion from Debate


On the same day that President Obama met with a number of health care organizations, a group of 45 conservative Democrats sent an angry letter to three House committees protesting the secrecy around the production of health care legislation in the House. The New York Times reports that this large group of Blue Dog Democrats is “‘increasingly troubled’ by their exclusion from the bill-writing process.” The Blue Dogs largely represent more conservative-leaning districts and take positions that are often favorable to industry. They are also big fundraisers, with their coalition PAC raking in large amounts from corporate PACs.

The Blue Dog PAC pulled in $2.26 million in PAC contributions during the 2008 election cycle. Approximately eighteen percent of that amount — $410,300 — came from PACs connected to the health sector. During the 2008 cycle, individuals members of the Blue Dog Coalition raised a combined $6.24 million from the health sector. The average contribution to a Blue Dog Democrat in the 2008 election cycle was slightly higher — $122,370 — than the average contribution to a Democratic lawmaker — $116,748.

Rep. Mike Ross, who is noted in the Times article as leading the Blue Dog Health Care Task Force, received nearly twice the average for a Blue Dog Dem — $259,625 — from the health sector, the most from any sector. Some other top Blue Dogs, many of whom are on the Health Care Task Force, are also leading recipients of contributions from the health sector. Reps. Bart Gordon ($395,178), Earl Pomeroy ($392,699), Jim Matheson ($350,994), Jason Altmire ($336,729), John Tanner ($264,299), Ross ($259,625), Mike Thompson ($254,625), and Patrick Murphy ($239,371) all rank in top 50 recipients of health sector campaign contributions.

When examing health sector campaign contributions over the careers of the 51 members of the Blue Dogs, the numbers jump up dramatically. For their collective careers (some spanning decades, others only one or two election cycles), the Blue Dogs have raised a total of $17.6 million from the health sector. Two members — Gordon and Pomeroy — have received over $1 million in contributions. Three more — Jim Cooper, Matheson and Tanner — are close to reaching that mark.

A spokesman for House Energy & Commerce chair Henry Waxman, one of the recipients of the letter, stated that he has already met with members of the Blue Dogs and did not understand what the commotion was about. They obviously want a seat at the table. But are they bringing their campaign funding friends with them?

Health Sector Campaign Contributions to Blue Dog Democrats in 2008

Bart Gordon ($395,178)
Earl Pomeroy ($392,699)
Jim Matheson ($350,994)
Jason Altmire ($336,729)
John Tanner ($264,299)
Mike Ross ($259,625)
Mike Thompson ($254,625)
Patrick Murphy ($239,371)
Average Democrat ($116,748)
Average Blue Dog Democrat ($122,370)