Senate Agriculture Committee Members Pull In Finance Contributions

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The Senate Agriculture Committee will take up a bill to regulate trading in derivatives in a markup today. The committee is a primary location for companies and individuals employed in the finance, insurance and real estate sector (FIRE) to send their campaign contributions. In 2009, members of the committee received a total exceeding $4.7 million, according to data obtained from the Center for Responsive Politics.

The leading recipient of contributions from the FIRE sector in 2009 is the junior Senator from New York, Kirsten Gillibrand. Gillibrand pulled in $1.2 million from the FIRE sector in 2009. Since New York is the home to the majority of finance and insurance companies, this comes as little surprise. Gillibrand is also raising money for her first Senate election campaign in 2010.

Appointed Senator Michael Bennet, of Colorado, received the second largest amount with a yield of $782,846 from the FIRE sector. Bennet faces a tough election race in both the primary and general elections. He also serves on the Banking Committee, which is the other Senate committee with oversight of financial regulation.

Committee chair Blanche Lincoln received the third most money from the FIRE sector with a haul of $691,500. Lincoln is facing one of the most difficult roads to reelection in the country this year and has been rapidly raising money. The bill being marked up in committee today was introduced by Lincoln, much to the dislike of the financial sector, last Friday.

South Dakota Senator John Thune pulled down $445,500 from the FIRE sector in 2009, making him the fourth biggest recipient on the committee. Thune pulled in this exceptional amount of money despite South Dakota Democrats not fielding a candidate to run against him.

Rounding out the top five is another candidate for reelection in 2010, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, who received $324,949 from the FIRE sector.

The Agriculture Committee occupies a special place in the world of finance as it maintains jurisdiction over the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which oversees and regulates futures and derivatives trading.

Senator FIRE Contributions (2009)
Gillibrand, Kirsten (D-NY) $1,216,500.00
Bennet, Michael (D-CO) $782,846.00
Lincoln, Blanche (D-AR) $691,500.00
Thune, John (R-SD) $445,500.00
Grassley, Chuck (R-IA) $324,949.00
McConnell, Mitch (R-KY) $168,175.00
Stabenow, Debbie (D-MI) $143,929.00
Nelson, Ben (D-NE) $138,950.00
Leahy, Pat (D-VT) $126,100.00
Baucus, Max (D-MT) $117,469.00
Cornyn, John (R-TX) $112,100.00
Brown, Sherrod (D-OH) $99,600.00
Casey, Robert (D-PA) $79,800.00
Klobuchar, Amy (D-MN) $70,450.00
Conrad, Kent (D-ND) $64,250.00
Harkin, Tom (D-IA) $34,060.00
Lugar, Richard (R-IN) $30,350.00
Roberts, Pat (R-KS) $28,650.00
Johanns, Mike (R-NE) $27,250.00
Chambliss, Saxby (R-GA) $23,250
Cochran, Thad (R-MS) $2,500
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