Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs, Product Safety and Insurance Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) testifies before the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee on Capitol Hill September 12, 2007 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON (Gannett Washington Bureau) - Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor's money-raising for his 2014 re-election campaign reflects major input from Washington lobbyists, according to a new report from a watchdog group.
Pryor, a Democrat, has received $85,100 in campaign contributions from lobbyists this year, the Center for Responsive Politics reported. Of the 535 members of Congress, only newly elected Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., with $183,340, and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., with $125,094, raised more from lobbyists than Pryor.
Pryor's office did not respond to repeated requests for comment made by phone both Friday and Monday.
The center, which specializes in tracking political dollars, also shows that since Pryor's last election in 2008, lobbyists have become the second-leading industry contributing to him, giving $168,654 to his re-election campaign and leadership political action committee combined. Members employ leadership PACs to raise money they can use to enhance their influence by giving to the campaigns of other lawmakers.
Only lawyers and law firms rank ahead of lobbyists in contributions to Pryor since 2008, giving him $268,480.
Overall, Pryor has raised $2.83 million for 2014 and had cash on hand of $3.41 million as of March 31, counting contributions to both the campaign committee and leadership PAC.
Meredith McGehee of the Campaign Legal Center, an advocacy group for campaign finance reform, said one look at Pryor's committee assignments makes it easy to understand why lobbyists are eager to help him.
Pryor sits on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee and is chairman of its Subcommittee on Agricultural Appropriations. He also chairs the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
"He's definitely become an insider because of the subcommittees he chairs," McGehee added. "He is a walking magnet for lobbyists' money on those two committees."
She said the commerce subcommittee he chairs deals with regulatory issues affecting a wide range of important industries.
Also McGehee said: "He is up for re-election and is seen as one of the vulnerable Dems (Democrats). Those interests who have built a relationship with him don't want to lose their investment."
Not hurting him also, she said, is that "he hasn't been a flame-thrower or rocked the boat other than on predictable 'blue dog' votes."
The blue dog reference refers to issues, mainly involving spending, where Southern Democrats feel compelled to vote with Republicans.
The Center for Responsive Politics' analysis also shows that Pryor has received $293,600 in contributions from individuals in New York since coming to the Senate in 2003.
The figure is of interest because New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently said he would advise political donors in his state to not give to Pryor and other Democrats who voted against expanded background checks for gun purchases.
Most of Pryor's New York money came in 2007, the year before he ran unopposed for a second term.
Since his 2008 race, he has received only $5,300 from New Yorkers and none so far this year, although a new round of campaign finance reports will become available later this month.
The list of New Yorkers giving to Pryor was dominated by employees of Wall Street firms dealing in investment advice and investment banking.
By Paul C. Barton, Gannett Washington Bureau