The 58-member freshman class of the 114th Congress raised $17.3 million in special interest money during their first year in office, according to new research by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
The money raised represents a nearly 16 percent increase over what they raised over a two-year period when they were candidates in the 2014 mid-terms. CREW refers to it as the "pressures of the permanent campaign."
"Many first‐time members of Congress win their seats on a message of changing Washington, DC and breaking the grip that special interest groups have on the nation's capital," CREW writes in its executive summary. "As soon as they get elected, though, new members of Congress face tremendous pressure to build their re‐election war chests. To meet this demand, they often turn to the very special interests they once decried."
At the top of the list is Steve Knight, R-Calif., who raked in 1,300 percent more in special interest money, up from $14,500, according to CREW.
Further, CREW said the data shows that the freshman lawmakers become more reliant on special interest money to maintain their war chests.
"In the 2014 election cycle, special interest PAC money accounted for, on average, 17.3 percent of the total funds raised by new members. In 2015, special interest PAC money accounted for, on average, 37.6 percent of the total funds they raised," CREW reported.
The top 5 list by percentage increase, according to CREW:
1. Steve Knight, R-Calif., 1,300 percent
2. John Katko, R-NY, 943 percent
3. Cresent Hardy, R-Nevada, 484 percent
4. Will Hurd, R-Texas, 457 percent
5. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, 442 percent
CREW, founded in 2003, says it has "aggressively pursued individual accountability for government officials who put their own interests ahead of the public interest."
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.