DATA RELEASE: Supporters of The National Landscape Conservation System Act Gave 5 Times More To House Members Voting Yes

Supporters of (H.R 2016) Gave 20 Times More to Members of the House Committee on Natural Resources Voting Yes

BERKELEY, CA, April 10, 2008 - In Congress yesterday, H.R. 2016, The National Landscape Conservation System Act, passed with 278 Yes Votes, 140 No Votes and 12 Not Voting. The bill grants additional protection for pristine land (over 850 federally recognized areas and approximately 27 million acres of National Conservation Areas, National Monuments, Wilderness Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and National Historic and Scenic Trails) from the Bureau of Land Management through the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS).

MAPLight.org's research department revealed today that supporters of the bill (environmental policy groups, landscaping and excavation services, and bicycles and other non-motorized recreational transportation) gave an average of 5 times more (on average, $3,176) to each member of the House voting Yes than to each member voting No (on average, $644).

The discrepencies are even larger for the committee vote than for the floor vote. For members of the House Committee on Natural Resources, which voted to report this bill favorably on April 1st (24-Yes to 13-No), supporters gave an average of 20 times more (on average, $3,465) to each member voting Yes, compared with an average of just $173 to each legislator voting No.

The bill gives NLCS official congressional recognition, ensuring its permanency and freeing it up for federal and scientific use. According to the Washington Times, "Hunters, miners and off-highway vehicle users could be affected by legislation that would limit access to more than 26 million acres of federal land, including Oregon's Steens Mountain area, Headwater Forest Reserve in northern California and more than 4,000 miles of national trails." NLCS was established in 2000 by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt to "conserve, protect and restore nationally significant landscapes recognized for their outstanding cultural, ecological and scientific values," according the NLCS Web site. The current bill does not actually change any rules that would affect grazing, mining, or other uses. For more information on HR 2016 visit: HR 2016 Whip Pack .

"Like many issues in Congress, money closely correlates with votes," said Daniel Newman, Executive Director of MAPLight.org. "This finding raises the question, Do politicians listen to voters, or to big donors?"

Money and Votes Data: House Roll Call

HR 2016 passed with 278 Yes Votes (228-D, 50-R), 140 No Votes (140-R) and 12 Not Voting (4-D, 8-R).

Supporters of the bill (environmental policy groups, landscaping and excavation services, and bicycles and other non-motorized recreational transportation) gave an average of $3,176 to each legislator who voted Yes, and an average of $644 to each legislator who voted No (they gave more than five times as much money, on average, to each legislator who voted Yes than they gave to each legislator who voted No).

Opponents of the bill (the mining industry, pro-resource development groups, and motorcycles, snowmobiles, and other motorized vehicles) gave an average of $2,793 to each legislator who voted No, and an average of $1,223 to each legislator who voted Yes (they gave more than twice as much money, on average, to each legislator who voted No than they gave to each legislator who voted Yes).

Money and Votes Data: House Committee on Natural Resources

The House Committee on Natural Resources voted to report this bill favorably April 1st; it passed 24-Yes to 13-No.

Supporters gave an average of $3,465 to each legislator voting Yes and an average of $173 to each legislator voting No (20 times as much).

Opponents gave an average of $754 to each legislator voting Yes and an average of $3,192 to each legislator voting No (4 times as much).

"These greater discrepancies in committee-level giving suggest that interest groups are targeting their donations to members with particular influence on the policies that affect them," said Sean Tanner, research director for MAPLight.org.

MAPLight.org reveals how contributions correlate with legislation so that citizens have key information needed to draw their own conclusions about how campaign contributions affect policy. Campaign contributions are only one factor affecting legislator behavior. The correlations we highlight between industry and union giving and legislative outcomes do not show that one caused the other, and we do not make this claim. We do make the claim, however, that campaign contributions bias our legislative system. Simply put, candidates who take positions contrary to industry interests are unlikely to receive industry funds and thus have fewer resources for their election campaigns than those whose votes favor industry interests.

Our Research Data:

MAPLight.org tracks all campaign contributions given to members of Congress, and how every member of Congress votes on every bill, revealing connections between money and politics never before possible to see. MAPLight.org’s research department uses Web 2.0 data mashup technology to combine three data sets: campaign contribution data from the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) (OpenSecrets.org) and National Institute on Money in State Politics (NIMSP), special interest support and opposition for each bill in Congress (MAPLight.org research team), and legislative voting records and bill information (THOMAS via GovTrack.us).

CRP contribution data used in this report is from January 2005 - February 2008.

MAPLight.org's data has been cited in the NY Times, Washington Post and National Journal; their Web site is fast becoming a favorite tool for journalists nationwide.

HR2016

Who We Are:

MAPLight.org is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that provides unprecedented government transparency shining a light on our broken system of money-dominated politics. We track all campaign contributions given to members of Congress, and how every member of Congress votes on every bill, revealing connections between money and politics never before possible to see. Our concise graphs show correlations between money and votes, and timelines of contributions and votes, showing specifics about when legislators received large donations before and after a vote.

About MAPLight.org:

MAPLight.org is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Berkeley, California. Its search engine at MAPLight.org illuminates the connection between Money And Politics (MAP) via an unprecedented database of campaign contributions and legislative outcomes. Data sources include:  GovTrack.us; Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets.org); Federal Election Commission (FEC); and National Institute on Money in State Politics (NIMSP). Support and opposition data is obtained through testimony at public hearings, proprietary news databases and public statements on the Web sites of trade associations and other groups. To learn more visit MAPLight.org. If our work has been helpful to you, please consider supporting us.

Editors Note:

Interviews with Daniel Newman are available.