Bribery: pro-NSA Congressional voters got twice the defense industry campaign contributions

(Chart: Maplight)

A detailed analysis on Maplight of the voting in last week's vote on de-funding NSA dragnet spying found that the Congresscritters who voted in favor of more NSA spying received more than double the defense industry campaign contributions of their anti-NSA-voting rivals. They were the winners in the industry's $13M donation bonanza leading up to the 2012 elections.

The remarkable thing is how cheaply these empty suits sold out their vow to uphold the Constitution. On average, the pro-spying side got $41,635, while the anti- averaged $18,765 -- a difference of $22,870.

Of the 26 House members who voted and did not receive any defense financing, 16 voted for the Amash amendment.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) voted against the measure. He ranked 15th in defense earnings with a $131,000 take. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) also voted against Amash. Pelosi took in $47,000 from defense firms over the two-year period.

Ninety-four Republicans voted for the amendment as did 111 Democrats.

Lawmakers Who Upheld NSA Phone Spying Received Double the Defense Industry Cash [David Kravets/Wired]

Notable Replies

  1. It might not be the classic definition of bribery, but it is definitely in the same realm. And there is ZERO doubt that members of congress will tailor their voting to appeal to current and potential donors.

    Yes, I call that bribery, mixed with a little threat (support our interests or we'll donate to the other candidate...)

    It is also an indictment of your political system. The fact that it isn't new or news doesn't mean it isn't a problem and shouldn't be dealt with.

  2. This highlights one of the fundamental problems with the military-industrial complex. The NSA can't contribute money to congress but Booze-Allan, Snowden's employer, can. The heavily outsourced defense industry is in an excellent position to kick money back to congress in a way that the civil service never could.

  3. This is bad data analysis, and "Bribery" is not the right conclusion here. It's more subtle than that.

    I did my own data analysis. The article published the dataset, and I thought it was sloppy not to control for party affiliation. Also the average is TOTALLY the wrong statistic: the average is going to be dominated by a few politicians with massive contributions. The median, for instance, will capture a result that's more typical of the "bulk", rather than the outliers.

    I mean, do your own data analysis and draw your own conclusions, but look. Here are the MEDIAN contributions by vote and affiliation, as far as I can see from 10 minutes with my spreadsheet:

    D No: 10650
    R No: 24300
    D Yes: 11500
    R Yes: 10500

  4. The previous posts correctly observe that you are violating a basic principle of statistics, confusing correlation with causation (xkcd). While I'm as unhappy as you are with the role of money in politics, I don't think it helps our case to toss out arguments that are so easily knocked down. It makes us look unreliable so we aren't trusted when we point out true problems.

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