Support for Baucus Healthcare Plan Brings in Donations

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Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the key architect of one of several
competing health care reform bills under consideration in Congress,
isn’t up for re-election until 2014, yet his campaign committee has
enjoyed an influx of contributions. In the third quarter of 2009, the
chairman of the Senate Finance Committee added more than $136,000 of
campaign cash to his coffers, bringing his total for the year to more
than $448,000.
Overall, Baucus has more than $2.2 million in his campaign account, the
majority of which is left over from his 2008 re-election bid.

During the third quarter, Baucus held lengthy deliberations with
five other senators–including three Republicans–in an effort to
arrive at a bipartisan bill. His campaign was deluged with
contributions from out-of-state donors; surprisingly, the biggest
source of individual contributions came not from pharmaceutical or
insurance executives, but from a group of Wyoming individuals who told
Sunlight they contributed to support his efforts.

A review of the latest disclosure report
filed by the Baucus campaign shows that he received more than $56,000
in campaign contributions from individuals from a pair of Wyoming towns
who attended a September fundraiser hosted for Baucus by Carl Knobloch,
a retiree from Wilson, Wyo. Knobloch and his wife Emily donated $7,100,
which included contributions to Baucus primary and general election
funds. Overall, Baucus raised $114,000 from individuals in the third
quarter.

Story Clark, a donor from Wilson, Wyo., who was at the fundraiser,
said that she gave Baucus money because he was a senator from a
neighboring state. Hes the closest Democrat we have who has similar
concerns towards health care and conservation issues, the
self-employed conservation consultant said.

The Knoblochs, who hosted the 100-person fundraiser, have mainly
given to Republican candidates in the past. Since 2006, Carl Knobloch
has given more than $140,000 and all but one donation, which went to
Baucus for his 2008 election campaign, has gone to Republican
candidates or to party committees.

Baucus’s campaign committee has received some money from individuals
in Wilson and Jackson, Wyoming before, but there is a definite spike in
the donations in the last quarter.

Since the Senate does not file campaign contribution documents
electronically, we reviewed the paper documents and entered the numbers
on a spreadsheet. We found a cluster of contributions made in September
from individuals in Jackson and Wilson, Wyo., to Baucus’ campaign;
after a few phone calls, we found individuals who confirmed that there
was a fundraiser hosted by Knobloch.

An additional interesting detail in this specific subset of Baucus’s
donors is that only in two cases have the individuals supplied his
campaign with an employer. The others either state that they are
retired, self-employed or there is a note from the committee that says
they are trying to get this information. Baucus’ office hasn’t
responded to calls or e-mail.

Baucus has also received about $22,000 from political action
committees in this quarter from various interests ranging from telecom
firms to the financial sector; PACs of lobbying firms also contributed.
An earlier report
by the Sunlight Foundation and the Center for Responsive Politics found
that Baucus was one of the biggest beneficiaries of this one-two punch
from lobbyists and the interests they represent.