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Gov’t workers voted for Obama with their dollars

By   /   June 17, 2013  /   2 Comments

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

LOPSIDED: A review of political contributions shows that lawyers for federal government agencies overwhelming sent checks to the Obama campaign rather than the Romney campaign in 2012.

By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog

Lawyers in federal agencies contributed more to Barack Obama than Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election, a pattern that mirrored giving at every federal agency, a review of Federal Election Commission records by a Pepperdine University law professor reveals.

The analysis also showed the Department of Education and the National Labor Relations Board did not report a single dollar in contributions to Romney from its lawyers.

“This is to be expected to some extent when you have a Democrat in the White House,” said Robert Anderson, associate professor of law at Pepperdine, “but I’ve never seen numbers this lopsided, outside of a politicized organization.”

Here is what Anderson found while looking at FEC records for the 2012 election cycle at the contributions from government attorneys at every federal agency plus the United Nations and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States:

anderson numbers on lawyers contributions in 2012

Anderson said he came across the numbers as part of a larger research project at Pepperdine looking into contributions by law firms.

“I noticed the government agencies were fairly lopsided,” Anderson told New Mexico Watchdog. That disparity spurred him to look at the FEC data for Obama or Romney by agency.

Some critics have dismissed Anderson’s numbers, maintaining that since Republicans have long talked about reducing the size of government, there’s a large degree of self-selection at work here — that lawyers who are politically conservative wouldn’t likely seek jobs in the federal government in the first place.

Anderson acknowledged that attorneys tend to donate more to Democrats and that public employees also contribute much more to Democrats than Republicans. But he said “in the current dismal market” for lawyers, the numbers would not likely lead to such a one-sided outcome.

But even if self-selection is at work, “It’s still a problem,” Anderson said.

“You have a monolithic, ideological culture, judging from the data,” Anderson said. He believes that could lead to more controversies such as the allegations facing the Internal Revenue Service for singling out conservative political organizations for scrutiny.

Anderson’s numbers showed that 95 percent of lawyers at the IRS contributed to Obama in the 2012 election.

“Dissenting voices within agencies — at least loud ones — don’t seem to he heard here…and may not be willing to stand up at a given agency to give voice to the other side of the political spectrum,” Anderson said.

Anderson, who has worked at Pepperdine for six years and notes he’s a registered Republican, said he has not yet looked at the FEC numbers from previous presidential election years.

“This is a snapshot,” he said.

Read the original blog post by Anderson here.

Contact Rob Nikolewski at rob@nmwatchdog.org and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski

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Since 2010, Rob Nikolewski has covered New Mexico politics and investigated fraud, waste and abuse in government. He also writes an opinion column in the Sunday editions of the Santa Fe New Mexican. Rob joined New Mexico Watchdog after 20 years in television as a sports anchor and reporter. He anchored at MSNBC, New York City, Boston, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Reno and Boise, winning three regional Emmy awards along the way. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, a master's in public administration from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and a bachelor's degree in journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio.

  • http://soquelbythecreek.blogspot.com/ Soquel by the Creek

    It’s also interesting to see where President Obama’s top contributors came from in 2012.
    http://www.opensecrets.org/pres12/contrib.php?cycle=2012&id=N00009638

    #4, #11, #19, and #20 are all directly tied to U.S. government employees. Strangely, #1 is also a taxpayer-financed organization.

    1. University of California
    2. Microsoft Corp
    3. Google Inc
    4. US Government
    5. Harvard University
    6. Kaiser Permanente
    7. Stanford University
    8. Deloitte LLP
    9. Columbia University
    10. Time Warner
    11. US Dept of State
    12. DLA Piper
    13. Sidley Austin LLP
    14. Walt Disney Co
    15. IBM Corp
    16. University of Chicago
    17. University of Michigan
    18. Comcast Corp
    19. US Dept of Justice
    20. US Dept of Health & Human Services

  • duelles

    I have the inglorious satisfaction of not supporting Obama, contributing to Obama or any lawyers either. TJ was perhaps right about revolutions every so often even if not every 20 years.