By Johnny Kampis | Missouri Watchdog
ST. LOUIS — An association promoting your right to chug beer and a group wanting to keep mortgage tax deductions in place are among the biggest federal campaign contributors, nationally and in Missouri.
The political action committees for the National Beer Wholesalers Association and the National Association of Realtors are third and fourth in campaign contributions during the 2012 election cycle, giving $2.18 million and $2.05 million, respectively. Each has also contributed to several Missouri candidates for Congress.
Most of the big spenders in the 2012 elections also target the Show Me State. Honeywell International’s PAC, which has given almost $2.3 million, handed out donations to 10 congressional candidates in Missouri, Watchdog reported Monday. EMILY’s List mobilized its members to give $177,000 to U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s re-election campaign.
The NBWA PAC gives to federal candidates who support state-based alcohol regulations and defending the spirit of the 21st Amendment, which ended Prohibition.
U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, a Republican running for McCaskill’s seat, received $5,000 from the group, while U.S. Rep Russ Carnahan, who seeks the Democratic nomination for House District 1, got $7,500.
Linda Auglis, spokeswoman for NBWA, did not return a call or email seeking comment Tuesday.
The NBWA gives almost equally to the parties, with the GOP taking in 59 percent of the group’s contributions compared to 41 percent for Democrats, the Center for Responsive Politics reports.
The split is more even with the NAR PAC, which gives 54 percent of its funds to Republicans; 46 percent to Democrats.
NAR gave $5,800 to U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay Jr., Carnahan’s Democratic opponent in the Aug. 7 primary, and $5,010 each to Carnahan, McCaskill, House District 5 incumbent Democrat Emanuel Cleaver and House District 8 incumbent Republican Jo Ann Emerson.
While the NAR PAC is among the biggest givers nationally, the group’s lobbying arm is even more active.
NAR has spent nearly $185 million in the past 15 years to steer members of Congress on issues facing business, health-care reform, tax cuts and bankruptcy legislation. A key goal of the NAR lobbying arm is deregulation of the financial services industry.
The NAR did not respond to a request for comment. Jill Malherek, who heads up the Missouri arm of the NAR PAC, did not return a call or email.
United Auto Workers is not among the top 10 PACs nationally this election cycle, having given less than $600,000 in donations. But Missouri politicians have benefitted from the labor group’s contributions. UAW gave McCaskill $10,000 and $5,000 each to Carnahan and Cleaver.
Adam Smith, spokesman for Public Campaign, a group seeking to reduce special interest money in politics, said these PACs tend to target members of Congress they believe share similar viewpoints.
“They see these as members who are willing to help,” he said.