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Being “Blue” Produces Lot$ of “Green” for Barrow

Category: Local Govts & Politics

Reports $1 million Re-election War Chest; $531,000 Raised from PACs in 2009

By Lou Phelps

March 22, 2010 -- On Sunday, Savannah’s “Blue Dog” conservative Democrat Congressman John Barrow broke with his party and his President and voted against the health care bill in the House. A review of his 2009 campaign financing report may offer insight into his reasons.

Barrow has one of the largest political funds in Georgia according to recently filed reports with the Federal Election Commission, in large part due to accepting more than a half a million dollars in PAC money in 2009, with a heavy dose of money from health insurance companies and drug manufacturers.  He has raised more money than any other Georgia Congressman – by a lot.  (See Chart 1 attached for comparisons to the money raised by Georgia’s eleven other Congressmen and U.S. Senators.)

In 2009, Barrow raised a total of $935,136 of which only $ 373,393 was from individual contributors and $531,266 from was PAC’s – political action committees.  He also began the year with significant cash on hand left over from the 2008 election cycle.

And his contributions from “individuals” are mostly out of state money from major donors, predominately attorneys.

During the most recent month reported, December 2009, Barrow brought in $58,250 of the total of $373,393 for the year from “individuals.” The list of those individual contributors shows that the money came from only 59 people with an average check of $988.00.

And, only 19 of the 59 contributors were from the 12th District. The 19 contributors from the region gave Barrow only $11,900. That means that 80 percent of Barrow’s money came from outside the district in December, the majority of which was also from out of state.

Almost half of those individual contributors were either attorney’s or the ‘general counsels’ employed at lobbying firms.

But Barrow’s big money during 2009 came from PACs which accounted for almost 60% of the total raised by the Friends of John Barrow fund. He accepted contributions from approximately 336 PACs in 2009, predominately from four industries -- health insurance industry and pharmaceutical companies, followed by energy and telecommunications companies.

In the past year, Barrow has accepted PAC money from some of the U.S.’s largest health insurance companies, including AFLAC, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Concordia, Humana, Wellpoint, United Health, Metlife, Northwestern Mutual Life, as well as  the National Association of Health Underwriters.

He has also accepted substantial PAC money from national drug manufacturers including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Glaxo Smith Kline, Johnson & Johnson,  Proctor & Gamble, Phizer, McKesson and Merck & Co.

There is also a long list of medical industry trade association contributions including the PAC’s for radiologists, nurses, podiatrists, physical therapists, optometrists, oncologists, psychiatrists, speech therapists, surgeons, cardiologists, pathologists and ob-gyn’s. 

The Washington Post is reporting today that Barrow accepted $503,828 from the health insurance industry, but the figure could not be varified, based on a view of the Congressman’s Federal Election Commission filings.

Former State Rep from Savannah, Atty. Tom Bordeaux, is treasurer of Barrow’s campaign committee, Friends of John Barrow, and oversees the filing of the Congressman’s quarterly campaign finance filings. When asked about the PAC money from health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, however, Bordeaux was quick to distance himself.

“I have nothing to do with soliciting funds.  I don’t sign any documents, it is a purely formal title (Treasurer.) I have no idea who solicits funds for him. I honestly don’t,” said Bordeaux.

“John is a friend of mine since college. I respect him, though I don’t agree with his vote on the health bill…and can’t understand it.  I’ve never made a solicitation phone call, not as Treasurer,” said Bordeaux, though he said that he is “a host on his reception committee,” that meets with major donors at various events.

A list of Barrow’s campaign contributors is available at www.fec.gov.  A summary of his PAC contributors, with the industry of the larger contributors HERE.

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