Sunday, February 04, 2007

Big money at the legislature

Here's part of a press release from Democracy North Carolina's Bob Hall, who keeps tabs on who's spending what to elect whom to the N.C. General Assembly. The growth in political action committee (PAC) money is substantial. A link to an online chart of the giving is at the bottom.

PAC DONATIONS TO N.C. LEGISLATORS SOAR

Realtors, UNC-CH Boosters, Doctors Top List

As the General Assembly prepares to convene, a new study shows that 25 special-interest groups - each with their own wish list for lawmakers - donated a record $5.1 million directly to state legislative candidates in the 2006 election. The groups include Realtors and beer wholesalers, bankers and dentists, lawyers and utility executives, dentists and auto dealers.

The $5.1 million total is almost double what the same groups gave legislative candidates just four years ago in the 2002 election, said Bob Hall of Democracy North Carolina, the nonpartisan watchdog group that conducted the analysis. Eleven of the political action committees (PACs)contributed more than $200,000 each; only two gave that much in 2002.

The NC Realtors PAC, which topped the list in both election cycles, contributed $615,715 to General Assembly candidates in 2006, a leap from $235,200 in 2002. The Realtors PAC gave at least $3,000 to 107 of the state's 170 legislators.

Citizens for Higher Education, a relatively new PAC sponsored by boosters of the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, came in second place, giving at least $6,000 to 25 sitting legislators.

PACs for the NC Medical Society, NC Home Builders Association, Academy of Trial Lawyers, Progress Energy, Bank of America, Nationwide Insurance, NC Hospital Association, and Duke Energy round out the list of the top 10 PACs. (A few reports have not been processed or received by the State Board of Elections, Hall noted, so totals may be even higher.)

See CHART at the bottom of the online release for a rundown on specifics PAC giving leaders.

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