The vote was 51 to 44 in favor of passage.
As might be expected, Sen. David Vitter sided with the Republican opponents in voting against the measure that would have forced unlimited secret campaign spending out into the open.
What might not have been expected was that Sen. Mary Landrieu took a walk.
Just as puzzling was Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), who co-sponsored the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law in 2002, but voted against the Disclose Act.
Arkansas its votes between its two senators with Mark Pryor voting yes and John Boozman voting no but both Alabama senators, Jefferson Sessions and Richard Shelby, voted no. William Cochran of Mississippi voted against the measure.
Besides Landrieu, others who did not vote on the bill included Dean Heller of Nevada, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Roger Wicker of Mississippi. With the exception of Landrieu, all those not voting are Republicans. Kirk is out on extended medical leave after suffering a stroke last January.
Vitter could be expected to be protective of his source of campaign contributions, thus the motivation for his vote against the bill.
Since 1999, OpenSecrets.org reports that Vitter has received the following amounts from these sources:
• Health professionals: $1.67 million ($241,433 from political action committees);
• Attorneys and law firms: $1.1 million ($217,776 from PACs);
• Oil and gas: $1.03 million ($337,450 from PACs);
• Real estate: $853,886 ($90,000 from PACs);
• Securities and investment: $841,581 ($101,000 from PACs).
Individual contributions to Vitter since 1999, according to OpenSecrets.org, not surprisingly show that he shares three large contributors with Gov. Piyush Jindal:
• Edison Chouest: $230,654;
• Jones Walker Law Firm: $304,190;
• Adams and Reese Law Firm: $237,100.
Vitter also received individual contributions from:
• Koch Industries: $40,500;
• National Rifle Association: $237,100.
In all, Vitter received $24.54 million in campaign contributions since 1999. That included $17.9 million, about $12 million of which was in the form of large individual contributions. He also received $4.96 million in PAC contributions, records show.
Landrieu, it seems, is just as beholden to certain special interests.
The record of her campaign contributions go back a full decade further than Vitter because she has served longer. Since 1989, she has received $26.38 million. Some of her major contributors include:
Attorneys and law firms: $3.22 million ($448,420 from PACs);
• Oil and gas: $1 million ($479,205 from PACs);
• Real estate: $821,000 ($121,300 from PACs);
• Lobbyists: $865,656 ($43,108 from PACs);
• Leadership PACs: $669,000.
Landrieu also received individual contributions totaling:
• $288,854 from Entergy ($147,324 in PAC contributions);
• $80,699 from the Shaw Group (43,499 in PAC money);
• $88,598 from J.P. Morgan Chase ($39,498 in PAC contributions).
Like Vitter, Landrieu received the bulk of her contributions ($15.9 million) from individuals but again like Vitter, about 65 percent of those were large individual contributions, meaning that high rollers tend to pose more of an influence than the $50 individual donations. Almost $8 million of her funds came from PACs. That’s about 60 percent more than Vitter.
So it would appear that some elected officials, regardless of party affiliation, are a tad sensitive to letting voters know the sources of their campaign contributions.
As difficult as it is to admit, at least Vitter showed the courage of his convictions, however misplaced his values are, but voting against the Disclose Act.
Landrieu should be as forthright.