[Washington Babylon ]Washington’s Congressional Bloc | Harper's Magazine

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[Washington Babylon]

Washington’s Congressional Bloc


Washington, D.C., has only 0.2 percent of the U.S. population and three votes in the Electoral College but it turns out city residents, or at least a select few, have more representation in congress than it first appears. A new study from MAPLight.org, a nonpartisan, research group, shows that members of the House collectively raised about $700 million between 2005 and 2007, of which 79 percent came from outside their home districts.

Washington, which has a smaller population than any state other than Wyoming, was the source of $146,807,711, more than one-fifth of all contributions. The city and its surrounding areas “are home to scores of lobbying firms and political action committees,” the study pointed out. “For 99% of U.S. House members (418 out of 421), Washington, D.C., was among their top 5 contributing states.”

The study allows you to search the record for every member of Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi raised $2.8 million from outside of her district, bringing in more from Washington ($1.15 million) than she did from the entire state of California ($935,510). Barney Frank, chairman of the House Committee of Financial Services, raised 91 percent of his money from outside his district, with seven of his top ten top contributing zip codes being in the Washington area. Overall, Democrats accounted for 19 of the top 20 spots on the list of members most dependent on money from beyond their district.

But Republicans don’t get much money from their own constituents either. House Minority Leader John Boehner raised $4.7 million, of which 91 percent came from non-constituents. His top zip code for contributions was 20005, the heart of Washington’s K Street area, where he brought in $280,000.

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