Last month, when Michele Bachmann put out the list of the first members of her new congressional Tea Party Caucus, I noted the predictable presence of Teetotaler Todd Akin (R-2nd), and asked where the rest of the Missouri Republican delegation was. The answer is that, with one exception, Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-9th), they are still missing.
It might be that Roy Blunt (R-7th), Jo Ann Emerson (R-8th), and Sam Graves(R-6th) still have some capacity for embarrassment. Or that, lacking the sincere conviction that practically oozes from, say, Todd Akin, they want more wiggle room. They may well be worrying about constituents who would think twice about a congressperson whose goal is to “serve as a listening ear to tea parties.” (Are you, like me, wondering what kind of ears aren’t “listening” ears?)
… analysis shows that the top contributors to the 50 members of a newly-established congressional Tea Party caucus — which so far includes only Republicans — are health professionals, retirees, the real estate industry and oil and gas interests.
Furthermore, donations from health professionals, oil and gas interests and Republican and conservative groups are, on average, higher for Tea Party caucus members than for members of the House of Representatives in general and even their fellow House Republicans.
I have to admit my first reaction was so what? These are exactly the groups I would expect to be lavishing funds on legislators on the Tea Party bandwagon – and many of the Missouri politicians that haven’t joined the caucus get plenty of moola from those groups as well (you can check out their totals by industrial and other donor groups on CPR’s OpenSecrets.org).
However, I began to get the point when I read further:
Tea Party activists have already established political action committees to fund favored candidates. But the formation of the caucus may make it easier to track which industries’ interests are aligned with the movement.
If the pattern of giving that CRP has described becomes more marked, perhaps we’ll see more movement toward the Tea Party caucus from the rest of the Missouri GOP in the future. Political scientist, Jim Hensen, claims that “The guys that are forming the caucus in Congress are trying to, you know, ride the train …”. Could that be the gravy train he’s talking about?