Childers leads state delegation with health-care dollars

’09 CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS
REP. HEALTH/INS. TOTAL RECEIPTS
Travis Childers $40,450 $438,576
Gregg Harper $2,500 $87,843
Gene Taylor $1,000 $110,930
Bennie Thompson $13,900 $522,246
SEN. HEALTH/INS. TOTAL RECEIPTS
Thad Cochran $8,500 $216,869
Roger Wicker $0 $68,748
* Receipts through June 30, 2009
SOURCE: Federal Election Commission

As Congress returns to Washington from its August recess, health-care reform opponents and supporters are expected to turn their full attention to Capitol Hill.
That usually means the political contributions will pick up pace on both sides.
A look at Mississippi’s members shows Reps. Travis Childers and Bennie Thompson lead the delegation in health-related contributions, with Sen. Thad Cochran not far behind. But figures vary from tracking organizations to Federal Election Commission reports for 2009′s first six months.
The Center for Responsive Politics most recently focused on the House’s conservative Blue Dog Democrats, a key coalition of votes, saying they continue to collect campaign funds from health insurers at a greater rate than non-Blue Dog counterparts.
“The business community realizes that (the Blue Dogs) are the linchpin,” said former Mississippi Rep. Mike Parker of Mississippi to www.publicintegrity.org, “and will become much more so as time goes on.”
Childers and Rep. Gene Taylor of Bay St. Louis are Blue Dogs. Thompson is a Democrat with a more liberal slant.
The Blue Dogs left for the August recess voicing few commitments for health-care bills, with most, including Childers, saying they were concerned about potential costs.
“I’d rather get this right than fast,” Childers said soon after he returned home to Booneville.
But longtime Mississippi political analyst Joe Atkins, a University of Mississippi journalism professor, chides the Blue Dogs for their position.
“They say they’re worried about the federal deficit,” Atkins said, “What they don’t seem to realize is that the existing health care system is one of the major reasons the U.S. economy is suffering.”
For the first six months of the year, health professionals contributed $9.4 million to all candidates for Congress, CRP reports.
The breakdown looks like this:
* House Democrats (254) – $3.84 million
* House GOP (174) – $2.36 million
* Senate Democrats (54) – $1.5 million
* Senate GOP (30) – $564,702
Not all congressmen reported contributions, which accounts for the incomplete numbers. The House has 435 members and the Senate has 100.
No Mississippi congressmen ranked anywhere close to the top in contributions from health professionals.
Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., who’s in a tough re-election campaign, tops the list for health care donations: $170,400 since January. Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, a Republican, was the 10th highest recipient in Congress at $97,500. Vitter faces Blue Dog Rep. Charlie Melancon in his re-election bid.
Melancon’s report shows he received $21,650 so far in 2009 from the health sector.
Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Tupelo, comes in with two others in the Senate’s No. 63 spot with $2,000 from health-care contributors this year.
Although the state’s senior senator, Thad Cochran, R-Oxford, isn’t on the list, Federal Election Commission finance reports show he’s received $8,500 from the health/insurance sector. That brings him to about 46th out of the 84 members listed.
On CRP’s list for the 435-member House, Childers ranks at 142 with $12,500 in health contributions; Thompson at 186 with $7,400. The list contains information on 432 of the members and some tied in rank with the same total receipts.
A Daily Journal check of FEC reports puts Childers with $40,450 including insurance companies, which would rank him at No. 32. The same examination puts Thompson at $13,900 or 131.
Between Mississippi’s other congressmen, Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Brandon, ranked 231 with five others at $2,250 contributions, while Taylor came in near the bottom, rank 237 with 19 others at $1,000.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com. Read Patsy’s blog, From the Front Row, on NEMS360.com.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal