Today, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is the guest of honor at a lunch fundraiser hosted at the Blank Rome lobbying firm in Washington, D.C. That is not unusual, of course; he has raised $2.5 million from lawyers and lobbyists during his time in Congress, according to data found at the Center for Responsive Politics website. Blank Rome’s PAC and lobbyists have donated $13,000 to his campaigns.
The government is about two weeks away from defaulting on our debt, which would wreak havoc on our economy, kill jobs, and harm middle class families. With the clock running out, and with Sen. McConnell in the center of Congressional negotiations on the default crisis, one might think he had more important things to worry about. And a look at the clients of the lobbying firm shows these lobbyists represent a few folks that benefit from government spending and tax loopholes.
- The firm received $30,000 from Carnival Cruise Lines in the first quarter of 2011. The company has made more than $11 billion in profits over the past few years, yet paid just 1.1% of its cumulative profits—federal, state, local, and foreign—on taxes. The firm received $120,000 in lobbying fees from the company in 2010.
- Royal Dutch Shell paid the firm $20,000 in the first quarter of 2011. Shell is one of the U.S. oil companies that have benefitted from billions in subsidies the U.S. government gives to oil companies each year.
- Another client is defense contractor, Harris Corp, which received $2.4 billion in defense contracts in the 2008 fiscal year, according to FedSpending.org.
- Finmeccanica Group paid the firm $50,000 in the first quarter. According to FedSpending.org, the company and its subsidiaries received nearly $2.3 billion in government contractors in the 2008 fiscal year.
Other Blank Rome clients include big donors to McConnell. Prudential Financial’s PAC and executives have given $26,100 in campaign contributions to McConnell since the 2002 election cycle. American Financial Group’s PAC and executives have donated $34,000 over the same period.
(The lobbying firm also represented Colonel Khadafi’s Libyan government in 2008 for a whopping $250,000 retainer.)
A lot of the debate over lifting the ceiling has been about cutting spending and raising taxes on millionaires or closing loopholes. I bet the lobbyists for these companies will have something to say about that.