Report: Outside Money Floods House Races, Too

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Staten Island Representative Michael Grimm live from Radio Row at the RNC in Tampa (Paige Cowett)

Money flooding in politics after the Citizens United Supreme Court decision isn't only affecting the presidential campaign.  A new Brennan Center for Justice report says money is flooding in to House races as well, including three in New York, in hopes of affecting the balance of power in congress.

The detailed analysis looked at campaign spending in 25 "toss up races" as flagged by the Cook Political Report one month before the election. In eleven of those districts outside groups spent more than the candidates.

"Disclosed Republican spending in the 25 toss-up House races exceeded the Democratic spending by $14 million through the end" of last month according to the report.

The races include three New York elections – including the 19th and 18th CD, in the Hudson Valley, in which former Bill Clinton aide Sean Patrick Maloney is making a run at incumbent Republican Nan Hayworth,  and the third congressional district in Staten Island, where Democrat Mark Murphy wants to unseat tea party favorite Michael Grimm.

"Outside groups are roughly on par with party committee spending  in these 25 toss up House races,” said Brennan Center analyst Sundeep Iyer.  “This suggests that there is a fundamental shift in the way campaigns are being financed in this country.”

Iyer says as the House races get inundated with PAC money and outside spending it can be harder and harder for the candidates to control the message of their own campaigns. 

The Brennan Center analysis doesn't include the millions spent to run so called "issue ads" that tax exempt groups can run that don't expressly support a candidate.

But  Iyer notes that gap comes from just one on the 25 toss up House races.  In Florida's 18th district "Republican Congressman Allen West has out spent his opponent, Patrick Murphy, by $8.7 million dollars." 

The Brennan Center's toss up analysis includes New York's 27th district western New York and the 18th and 19th districts in the Hudson Valley. So far outside group spending  has averaged $4 million dollars in each of these  close New York contests.


More in:

Comments [1]


There is a lawsuit currently on appeal called LaVergne v. Bryson (Docket #12-1171) in which Eugene LaVergne argues that Article the First - the First Amendment of the Constitution to clear the House, dealing with apportionment of representation -- generally considered to be the ratio of citizens to representatives in the House -- was, in fact, passed by the Connecticut legislature in 1790 but was never filed with the federal government.

If this in fact turns out to be the case and this amendment is added to our Constitution, any law passed by Congress on the topic - notably 1929 law limiting the size of the House to 435, is unconstitutional. Interestingly, if the ratios stipulated in the Amendment were followed the House could have as many as 6,200 members. What do you imagine would be the impact of that increase in seats? Would the rich still just end up owning all the access? Does the mere size and spread of representation protect us from corruption?

Nov. 04 2012 03:40 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


About It's A Free Country ®

Archive of It's A Free Country articles and posts. Visit the It's A Free Country Home Page for lots more.

Supported by

WNYC is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation: Because a great city needs an informed and engaged public.  Learn more at


Supported by