Money and Democracy

Published — November 3, 2010 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

John Boehner unapologetic about pro-business agenda


“I am the business community.”

So declared John Boehner in a September interview with CNN, and his campaign contribution track record bears it out. As the Ohio Republican prepares to become the next House speaker, it’s a good time to revisit what the Center for Public Integrity found when it examined Boehner’s career patrons in June.

Our Who Bankrolls Congress project tracked the largest donors to U.S. House and Senate leaders over their congressional careers. When it comes to Boehner, it is clear he is living up to his pro-business reputation. Over two decades, Boehner took more than $1.5 million in political action committee contributions from AT&T, CME Group, Bank of America, Altria, United Parcel Service, Reynolds American, JP Morgan Chase, FedEx, and Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s PACs.

He earned their support by voting with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce 93 percent of the time over his career. The AFL-CIO says he voted against their interests on every vote he cast in 2008 and 2009.

At the time, we wrote the following:

Long before Congressman John Boehner of Ohio rose to his current position as House Republican Leader, he created the “Thursday Group” — a weekly discussion around a U.S. Capitol conference room table with conservative and business lobbyists, including representatives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other influential trade associations. In Washington, those sorts of relationships often pay dividends. So perhaps it’s no surprise that Boehner’s top career donors include a lobbyist-turned-tobacco executive, two former CEOs of an insurance company, the head of a coal company, and a former telecommunications lobbyist, as well as corporate political action committees for two tobacco behemoths, two shipping companies, and four financial services firms and associations…

Boehner authored the 2006 Pension Protection Act, which expanded tax breaks for those who invest in retirement savings plans, and was also behind the law that implemented the U.S. free trade agreement with Oman.

In the CNN interview, Boehner declared his allegiance to business interests when asked about Democrats’ complaints that the Ohio lawmaker is “too cozy” with lobbyists.

“I’m a small business guy who stumbled into this political arena. And when people talk about my relationship with the business community, I’m sorry, I am the business community,” Boehner said in the interview. “That’s who I am — the — the heart and soul of me.”

As Boehner organizes Republicans’ new control of the U.S. House, he has made one thing unapologetically clear: a pro-business agenda is in the works.

John Boehner’s Career Top Donors (PACs)

1) AT&T – $240,105

2) CME Group – $225,850

3) Bank of America – $207,000

4) Altria – $207,000

5) United Parcel Service – $165,750

6) Reynolds American – $158,500

7) JPMorgan Chase – $154,925

8) American Maritime Officers – $150,500

9) FedEx – $143,350

10) Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association – $142,390

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