Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tim Walberg and the Club for Growth

Data below has been updated. On the advice of an anonymous commenter, I have reposted this. After all, you can't repeat yourself enough on this. It's clear that Tim Walberg works for the Club for Growth, not Michigan's 7th District.

Congress is on its break for the month of August, but there's still plenty to talk about. Today, I'd like to take a closer look at Congressman Tim Walberg's relationship with the Club for Growth.

The Club for Growth is not a nice organization. They claim to stand for lower taxes, pro-business policies, and "economic freedom." In practice, they stand for purging the Republican Party of those that don't follow their rigid ideology. Here's what former Congressman Joe Schwarz said of their role in the 2006 primary:
The effort was funded, probably to the tune of $1 million or so, by the Club for Growth, a Washington outfit supported by plutocrats nationwide who apparently have nothing better to do with their money than give it to an organization that stands for nothing -- though it says it's "anti-tax" -- and likes to play in elections in which it has no logical interest.
And it wasn't just Joe Schwarz. Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) also saw a Club for Growth challenger in 2006. But most interesting, perhaps, was in 2004. The Club challenged Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) in the primary, with their hand-picked candidate Pat Toomey (now president of the Club) losing in a close, 51-49 election.

Senator Specter, of course, has served Pennsylvania as a Republican in the Senate for nearly 30 years. He even supports a flat-tax system-- a favorite of conservatives-- but that's not enough for the Club for Growth. Their ideological purity tests somehow determined that conservative Arlen Specter wasn't good enough.

But let's get back to Tim Walberg. What did the Club for Growth do for him?

First, there are the independent expenditures.

The Club for Growth spent $191,952 on behalf of Tim Walberg. I had to check that number a few times because the FEC listed so many expenditures, I was afraid I might have missed one-- and I still might have. (Fun facts: The largest expenditure was $110,727 for an ad buy; the smallest was just $2.00 for "internet communication.")

The Club for Growth spent $326,994 against Congressmen Joe Schwarz. That was probably those ads you might have seen claiming Schwarz was "a liberal."

What about Walberg himself? He spent $1,225,137 out of $1,260,111 raised for the campaign. That's a lot of money. Where did it come from?

Well, some of it counts the independent expenditures of the Club and other PACs. But of his individual contributions-- $947,745-- much of that came from Club for Growth members. See, the Club will send out fundraising letters to all of their members encouraging them to give directly to the candidates. Tim Walberg doesn't really have supporters across the country. Instead, he has a bunch of rich people send him $2,000 checks because he's on the Club for Growth's endorsement list. It's a nifty set-up he's got there.

So how much of that $950,000 came from Club for Growth members? It's hard to say. But Walberg did have 73 percent of his contributions come from out-of-state. So that's something.

So what does that kind of money buy you? Well, for the Club for Growth, it buys you a reliable voice in Congress. It's just too bad that voice doesn't represent the 7th District.

The Club for Growth issues "Key Vote Alerts" whenever an issue comes before Congress that they've chosen to care about. In each alert, they offer the proper instructions for their followers in Congress. That is, they state whether one should vote "yes" or "no." I've created a table to track these:

Club for Growth Key Votes

Bill/Amendment CFG Position Walberg Vote
HR 800 No No
Sessions Amdt HR 1401 Yes Yes
Ryan Sub. Amdt H Con Res 99 Yes Yes
HR 401 No No Vote Taken
HR 1257 No No
Campbell/Ryan Letter Sign Signed
Bachus/Biggert Amdt HR 1427 Yes Yes
HR 1252 No No
Amdt #57 HR 2638 Yes Yes
HR 2734 Co-sponsor Original Sponsor
Amdt #10 HR 2771 Yes Yes
Campbell Amdt HR 2829 Yes Yes
P-F-H Amdt HR 2829 (Fairness Doctrine) Yes Yes
"Fairness" Amdt HR 2419 Yes No
Rule for HR 2419 No No
HR 2419 No No
HR 3221 and HR 2776 No and No No and No

Now, there are two blank spots on that table, corresponding with the "Vote Alerts" here and here. I can't seem to find how Walberg voted on those in any of the usual databases I search. If anyone else can find what I'm missing, I'd appreciate it.

UPDATE: A very kind anonymous commenter found those two missing votes for me, and the table above has been updated, as has the analysis below.

After removing HR 401, which has yet to be voted on, there have been 17 Club for Growth "Key Vote Alerts." Tim Walberg voted with the Club 16 out of 17 times, or 94.1 percent of the time. In contrast, Walberg voted with the House Republican Caucus just 90.7 percent.

Clearly, Congressman Tim Walberg has been just about the best representative that money can buy.

What would you do if you could buy a member of the United States House of Representatives?

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I've not studied the numbers, but looking over the Opensecrets website, I estimate that Walberg easily took more than 80 percent of his funding from out-of-district and out-of-state interests and individuals. Clearly, he had a great deal of difficulty raising money, especially in the primary, from inside the district, especially in the Western half.

It's clear he's a wholly owned subsidiary of CFG and beholden to them, not the 7th District.

CFG is the most agregious example of why we need campaign finance reform. They are simply zealots and ideologues hellbent on destroying those in the GOP who oppose them.

It will be interesting to see how much "clout" they have in the White House without Karl Rove. I believe he was attached at the hip to this organization.
Great job showing how Walberg is bought and sold by CFG. If Mark Schauer doesn't think his pledge to his caucus not to run for Congress isn't come back to bite him, then he and his followers have been drinking a little too much juice. Amen to those calling for campaign finance reform!!!
Fitzy, this is a great post I missed. I tracked down this bit of missing info on the Club's Key vote referenced here:


The Club for Growth urges members of the House to vote "YES" on the Culberson/Feeney/King/McHenry Amendment (#57) to the Homeland Security Appropriations bill (H.R. 2638 / H. Res. 473). This vote will be included in the Club for Growth's 2007 Congressional Scorecard.

The amendment would strike Section 536 from the bill. That section requires that "prevailing" wage rates be applied to all Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants made to states and localities.

These artificially higher wages, usually corresponding to union wage rates, would result in a higher cost to taxpayers, less security per dollar spent, and fewer jobs. It would also shield unions from much-needed competition.

Our Congressional Scorecard for the 110th Congress provides a comprehensive rating of how well or how poorly each member of Congress supports pro-growth, free-market policies and will be distributed to our members and to the public.""

The "key vote" on Sec 536 funds is Davis-Bacon language. It was credited to Rogers of Kentucky. This is a cut and paste from Thomas:

""47. H.AMDT.297 to H.R.2638 An amendment to prohibit use of funds in the bill to implement section 536 relating to Davis-Bacon provisions.
Sponsor: Rep Rogers, Harold [KY-5] (introduced 6/15/2007) Cosponsors (None)
Latest Major Action: 6/15/2007 House amendment not agreed to. Status: On agreeing to the Rogers (KY) amendment (A048) Failed by recorded vote: 145 - 277 (Roll no. 488).""

And, roll call #488???

You guessed it. Walberg voted YES with the Club.

I will see if I can track the other one down next. You should repost it with the complete data. I think we should all take a good look at what money can do in Washington DC.
The other missing info is on the "Rule for HR 2419." HR 2419 was the Farm Bill Extension Act of 2007. The "rule" is a House Resolution (in this case H.RES.574) which allows for debate of the bill (in this case HR 2419.) If the rule is voted down, the bill does not get debated or voted on.

H.RES.574 was roll call 746. Rules are usually party line votes, so scoring that vote is a safe bet for the Club to pad some stats in favor of the GOP and against the Democrats. And, predictably, the vote went 222 dems for and 6 dems joined 196 repubs against.

And, you guessed it, Walberg voted with the Club, against the rule.

Again, I think you should bring this post up to the top of the page for some more discussion. Great post and keep your head above the fray, and on the task of exposing Walberg's corrupt way of representing us. He is nothing if not consistent and we should expect nothing but bad representation from Walberg.
Yo Fitzy,

Thanks for reposting, and thanks for the nod. I really think this issue is important. Way more important than who will run ot defeat Walberg. I have always seen this website as a tool for future opponents of Walberg to refernece whenthey fire up their campaigns. Like a set of eyes, vigilant and relentless. We need ot focus on why Walberg is vulnerable and why Walberg is wrong for America, Michigan and each of our unique communities.

The rumor mill of "who will run" is nice, but it should take a back-seat to our focus on Walberg's missteps.

Again, repeatedly since August of last year, I applaud your effort and thank you for your interest on this important topic which I believe is a patriotic service to all the citizens of the 7th.

Keep it up and God be with you.
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