One Nation Under Debt

Published — August 10, 2011 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Super Congress co-chair Patty Murray champions liberal causes, big business

Senator Patty Murray of Washington Alex Brandon/AP


In selecting Patty Murray as one of the Democrats for the Super Congress, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid picked someone he can count on.

Murray, a fourth-term senator from Washington, is a passionate advocate for veterans, seniors and working families, so she’s almost certain to try to limit or block cuts to Medicare or Social Security.

But she is also loyal to Reid and her party. In supporting the debt-ceiling compromise, Murray framed her support as protecting ordinary working people back in Washington.

On the floor of the Senate, she read a letter from a distressed Bellingham, Wash., constituent who said, “Social Security is my lifeline. It stands between me and homelessness.”

Murray said that though the compromise wasn’t perfect, it kept people like her constituent from suffering.

While her task now will be to find major spending cuts, Murray has a reputation as a big spender who excels at bringing federal dollars back home. And while she clings to her image as a mom in tennis shoes, Murray has also been a relentless advocate for powerful corporate interests, especially Microsoft and Boeing.

Murray has risen through the ranks of Senate Democrats by being dutiful. She took on the challenging task this year of being the party’s chief fundraiser as chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. That puts her in the role of asking for money from political interests who have a huge stake in any deficit reduction plan.

The chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, criticized Murray’s appointment, saying it is “absolute proof that Democrats are not serious about deficit reduction… The Select Committee is no place for someone whose top priority is fundraising and politics.”

Top Contributors

  • American Federation of Teachers, a labor union representing educators and others — at least $30,000
  • Microsoft Corp., the software behemoth — at least $21,000
  • Medco Health Solutions, a pharmacy company — at least $20,000
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, a labor union — at least $20,000
  • Conkling Fiskum & McCormick, a lobbying and public affairs firm — at least $19,700
  • PACs gave at least $2.8 million to Murray’s campaign account and her M-PAC leadership PAC

Revolving Door

  • Rick Desimone, former chief of staff, is a lobbyist at McBee Consulting, where he represents a range of clients including J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding Corporation, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Washington State University
  • Carrie E. Desmond, former legislative aide, is a lobbyist for Lockheed Martin
  • Shay Michael Hancock, former legislative aide, is a lobbyist at Denny Miller Associates, where he represents General Dynamics, Safe Boats International, and the University of Washington
  • Dale Learn, former senior legislative aide, is a lobbyist at Gordon Thomas Honeywell Government Affairs, where he represents several local governments in the state of Washington
  • Justin LeBlanc, former senior staffer, is a lobbyist with his own firm, where he represents the City of Fife, Wash., United Catcher Boats, and United States Seafood

Statements on Super Congress

  • Murray, in a joint statement with Democratic Sens. Max Baucus and John Kerry, said they “look forward to working with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers to address these issues in a balanced, pragmatic and practical way.”
  • At a news conference after her appointment, Murray said committee members shouldn’t take positions on entitlement cuts or tax revenues before their work begins. “We shouldn’t be drawing any lines in the sand.”

Read more in Money and Democracy

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