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.
“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 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.
Contact Rob Nikolewski at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski