The National Association of Broadcasters traditionally hands out cash to members of both political parties — a key factor isn’t necessarily which side of the aisle you’re as what committee meetings you attend. So far this cycle, Democrats have been the recipients of NAB’s 243K in donations, according to data filed 1/7/08 and made available at website Opensecrets.org.
On the House side, 116K has gone to Democratic incumbents, compared to 87.3K for Republicans. Prominent on the list are Energy and Commerce Committee chair John Dingell (D-MI) and his Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee colleague Ed Markey (D-MA). Markey’s counterpart Fred Upton (R-MI), the Subcommittee Ranking Member, is on the list, but MIA is Dingell’s counterpart, E&C Ranking Member Joe Barton (R-TX). The NAB also fed cash to most prominent broadcaster in Congress until just last year when he sold off a small radio group — we refer to Greg Walden (R-OR).
On the Senate side, NAB is spending on Democrats on a two-to-one basis, handing 26.7K to Democratic candidates compared to 13K for Republicans. Although the list, which includes 14 incumbents and one candidate looking to move from the House to the Senate — Heather Wilson (R-NM) — is prominently populated with Commerce Committee members, although since only about a third of the Senate membership is up for re-election, the list is far from comprehensive. For example, Commerce Chair Daniel Inouye (D-HI) is absent, but he doesn’t have to run this year. Ranking Member Ted Stevens (R-AK), on the other hand, is up for re-election, and did receive a donation from the NAB.
RBR/TVBR observation: Communications issues in general and broadcasting issues in particular have a way of crossing traditional party line voting patterns. Further, on particular issues where positions hew more closely to a party line, sometimes it is the Republican opinion that is more favorable to the industry, and sometimes it’s the Democratic opinion. The key for the NAB is to make sure it has access to all concerned parties on Capitol Hill, since sooner or later almost any one of them may hold a key vote on one issue or another.