Financial Crisis Commissioners Donate to Appointers, the State PAC Advantage and More in Capital Eye Opener

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FCIC.jpgBY SPENCER MACCOLL – POLITICAL DONATIONS BEHIND FCIC COMMISSION: The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission released its findings this week on the financial crisis of 2007 to 2010, finding the meltdown was in part caused by widespread failures in financial legislation.

A Center for Responsive Politics analysis finds that many of the commission’s 10 members are prolific political donors with five of the 10 members donating to at least one of the two congressional leaders responsible their commission appointments.


The members were appointed by leaders in the U.S. Congress with Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid each selecting three members and Republicans John Boehner and Mitch McConnell each choosing two.

Below are the total political contributions of these 10 members and their spouses from 1989 to the most recent Federal Election Commission filing, in order of largest to smallest donors:

John W. Thompson (D) — $794,000 — Chairman of the board and former CEO of Symantec Corporation; donations included $13,900 to Reid; Thompson and his spouse rank among the top 300 individual political donors at the federal level dating back to the 1990 election cycle.

Heather H. Murren (D) — $412,000 — Co-founder and former CEO of the Nevada Cancer Institute; husband, James Murren, is CEO of MGM Resorts International; donations include $16,200 to Reid.

Chairman Phil Angelides (D) — $407,000 — former California state treasurer and current chairman of Apollo Alliance; donations included $11,600 to Pelosi.

Byron S. Georgiou (D) — $310,000 — Former partner of Georgiou, Tosdal, Levine and Smith, and current overseer of Georgiou Enterprises; donations include $4,800 to Reid.

Peter J. Wallison (R) — $112,000 — Former partner with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and now co-director at the American Enterprise Institutes; donations include $2,000 to McConnell.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin (R) — $41,000 — Economist and former policy adviser to John McCain; donated majority to McCain’s presidential campaign and the Republican National Committee.

Brooksley Born (D) — $29,000– Former partner at Arnold and Porter law firm and former chair of U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Bill Thomas (D) — $13,000 — Former congressmen.

Keith Hennessey (R) — $3,250 — Former economic adviser to President George W. Bush.

Bob Graham (R) — $3,000 — Former U.S. senator and Florida governor.

National-Institute-on-Money-in-State-Politics.jpgSTATE PACS HELP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES: The National Institute on Money in State Politics issued a news release Wednesday stating that potential presidential candidates can inflate their war chests by registering state-level political action committees in addition to federal-level PACs.

The annual contribution limit to federal political action committees is capped at $5,000 but donors may exceed that limit by also donating to affiliated state PACs. The Institute uses the example of Edward Conard (Bain Capital LLC, New York City), who gave Mitt Romney $73,000 last year – but only $5,000 appears on Romney’s federal PAC report. The remaining $68,000 went to Romney’s state-level PACs.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s Freedom First PAC — a state-level PAC based in New Hampshire — raised $88,175, of which only $75 came from donors living in New Hampshire.

stanford-violence-embed.jpgALLEGED PONZI SCHEMER UNFIT TO STAND TRIAL: Allen Stanford, the Texas billionaire accused of defrauding investors of $7 billion, was severely assaulted while serving in a Detention Facility in Conroe, Texas over a year ago. He suffered a broken nose, orbital fractures and severe trauma to his head that his lawyers argue have  led to depression and anxiety. His trial was due this week, but U.S. District Judge David Hittner ruled Wednesday that Stanford is unfit to stand trial because of his “impaired ability to rationally assist his attorneys in preparing his defense.” The judge delayed the trial indefinitely.

The Center for Responsive Politics has previously followed Stanford’s political activity, finding the financier has donated $931,000 to federal candidates, parties and committees. People and political action committees associated with his former company, Stanford Financial Group, likewise donated $2.4 million. Since 1999, the company had spent $4.8 million on federal-level lobbying efforts.

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