D.C. insider, Sen. Portman, another possible pick for “Super Congress”


Sen. Robert Portman’s, R-Ohio, name is making the rounds as a contender to serve on the “super committee”, and with his prior stints at top federal agencies and with big name lobbying firms, his ties to industry interests runs deep.

Portman serves on the budget, armed services, energy and natural resources, and homeland security committees, all of which are are slated for some major cuts. He has received $4 million in contributions from the financial services and real estate sector and another $1.8 million has come from lobbyists and lawyers. Another prominent contributor to Portman in recent years has been the manufacturing industry which contributed $575,000 to his campaign in 2010.

Prior to his time in the Senate, Portman held a House seat till 2005 when he left to work on the Bush cabinet. First, at the U.S. Trade Representative from 2005 to 2006 and then as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) from 2006 to 2007. In 2008 Portman took a hiatus from public service at which time he formed two PACS and had his name tossed around as a possible running mate for John McCain. Before entering politics, Portman worked at several prominent D.C. law firms including Patton Boggs, Graydon, Head & Ritchey and Sanders, Squire & Dempsey. Portman's campaign committee as well as his two PACs, America's majority Trust and Ohio's Future PAC, have raised over $22 million. His former employers, Graydon, Head & Ritchey and Sanders, Squire & Dempsey were two of Portman's top 20 contributors. Also, Portman's former chief of staff, Robert Lehman, now is with Sanders, Squite & Dempsey. During his time in Congress, the two firms donated nearly $200,000 to the Ohio Republican.

Portman voted in favor of the legislation that created the “super congress” of which he could potentially be a member, given his former experience on budget committees and OMB Director. In his official statement he touted the bill to raise the debt ceiling as a, “Step in the right direction because it begins to address Washington's addiction to higher spending and dangerous levels of debt.” In terms of budget cuts, Portman suggested in a Wall Street Journal article that the “dollar-for-dollar” rule be made permanent, matching debt ceiling increase with spending cuts.