Washington, D.C. – Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent a letter to the House and Senate leadership calling for members of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, commonly referred to as the “super committee,” to cease all fundraising operations for the duration of their service on the committee. CREW particularly noted the problem with Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) serving as the chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee -- where she is specifically charged with fundraising -- while also serving on the super committee. Click here to read CREW’s letter.
“Americans need to have confidence that the solutions offered by the super committee represent the best interest of all Americans, not just committee members’ biggest donors,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “While this is an issue for all super committee members, it is more pronounced for Sen. Murray, who is also the chief fundraiser for Senate Democrats.”
Special interest groups already are seeking to capitalize on access to super committee members. Soon after all the appointments were announced, at least one fundraising solicitation explicitly noted the opportunity to meet with a super committee member. Additionally, several members hail from states or districts that contain major industries likely to find their federal funding on the chopping block.
Ms. Sloan also criticized White House spokesperson Jay Carney for having said it is “silly” to believe fundraising by super committee members presents any conflicts of interest. “Mr. Carney’s view seems to directly contradict President Obama’s refusal to accept campaign contributions from lobbyists,” said Ms. Sloan.
“The appearance problem is huge. Decisions that benefit any super committee members’ contributors will be suspect, whether or not the donations really had any influence,” said Ms. Sloan. “Americans already -- and with ample justification -- believe Congress is captive to special interests. Requiring super committee members to eschew campaign donations during the short period the committee will be operating will help instill Americans’ confidence in its work.”