Report: Campaign cash increased before tax reform draft

Campaign contributions to House tax writers ballooned as Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) was crafting his draft plan to overhaul the tax code, a new report says.

The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) says that the 10 most generous donors increased their contributions by a third to Ways and Means members from 2011 to 2013, from $1.65 million to $2.18 million.

Those 10 companies or groups are New York Life Insurance, Honeywell, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the National Beer Wholesalers Association, the Investment Company Institute, UPS, the American College of Radiology Association, the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, General Electric and the National Multifamily Housing Council.

ADVERTISEMENT
Camp, who released his draft discussion in February, actually received the second-highest amount from those groups, at $348,000. Rep. Joe Crowley (N.Y.), currently a member of House Democratic leadership, got the most, at $373,599.

Reps. Peter Roskam (Ill.), Pat Tiberi (Ohio) and Devin Nunes (Calif.), all senior GOP members of the panel, came in third through fifth, respectively.

In all, Republicans received roughly 64 percent of the contributions from those groups, slightly more than the 59 percent of Ways and Means seats they control.

In their report, CREW acknowledged that Congress is very unlikely to enact Camp’s draft this year. Camp is not seeking reelection in November, and is trying to build momentum for tax reform in his final months on Capitol Hill.

But the group also said that the contributions would give corporate interests an advantage that regular voters don’t have as the tax reform debate continues in the years to come.

Camp’s draft could easily influence future attempts at tax reform, and Democrats have already eyed some of his ideas for slashing tax breaks.

“Tax reform may be dead, but the proposals in Rep. Camp’s draft will have a half-life,” said Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director and an aide to Vice President Biden when he was in the Senate. 

“These donors know how important it is to make sure lawmakers hear their concerns and money has a very loud voice.”