Broadcasters bet on Blunt
Likely new majority whip gets industry backing; tight races draw more media bucks
By Bill McConnell -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/3/2002 7:00:00 PM
Despite more than a score of tight races, odds are good Republicans will maintain their majority in the House, so good that the TV and entertainment industries are making a big bet on Roy Blunt, a three-term representative from Missouri.
|Selected campaign contributions from PACs, soft-money donors and individuals ($200 or more), and how the funds were distributed|
|* Real estate billionaire and investor Steve Bing's production company
** Controlled by Univision's Chairman A. Jerrold Perenchio and largest shareholders, Chartwell Partners is holding company for media investments.
*** Executive Chairman Robert F.X. Sillerman is former executive chairman of SFX Entertainment, which sold out to Clear Channel for $4.3 billion in 2000.
Source: Center for Responsive Politics, 2002 cycle
|Shangri-La Entertainment *||$6,580,000||100%||——|
|AOL Time Warner||$1,169,894||76%||23%|
|Walt Disney Co.||$991,039||52%||48%|
|Chartwell Partners **||$762,000||1%||99%|
|Sillerman Companies ***||$471,099||100%||——|
If his party keeps control, Blunt is all but certain to follow Tom Delay as majority whip, third-highest position in the House.
Broadcast, cable and Hollywood lobbyists know him as a steady, behind-the-scenes player in the Energy and Commerce Committee. The industries, eager to have a guy who knows their issues in a senior role, have made Blunt their third-highest recipient of PAC donations in Tuesday's elections.
Blunt faces easy reelection in his Springfield district, but he can use the cash in future campaigns and dole out assistance to other Republican candidates. By building the rising star's war chest, companies and industry trade groups aim to access and influence at the top levels of House leadership.
Blunt, a member of the Commerce Committee, one of the two key panels for the media industries, will be in position to influence both House leaders and the rank and file on critical legislation.
A prolific fundraiser—attending as many as two gatherings a day for colleagues—Blunt has passed on roughly half of the $1.4 million he has raised to other Republicans. Blunt's favor with Delay and Majority Leader Dick Armey helped broadcasters gain their ear in a successful bid to scale back the FCC's low-power radio service.
From the TV and entertainment industries' political action committees, Blunt has received $54,000 and ranks in contributions behind only House Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin, with $65,000, and the panel's ranking Democrat, John Dingell, with $63,000. Two years ago, Blunt was the 24th-favored recipient, with $30,000.
"He's been a conduit to leadership on a variety of telecommunications issues," says Jim May, executive vice president of the National Association of Broadcasters. Blunt has received $11,000 from NAB's political action committee (PAC) and another $10,000 from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.
Blunt also has taken in $10,000 from Disney, $3,210 from News Corp., $3,000 from AOL Time Warner, and $2,000 from Viacom.
"It makes sense for him to be a priority for PACs," says Dave Miller, managing partner at D.C. political consulting firm Federal Legislative Associates. "He's a guy you may need to go to bat for you at the right time."
On the key committees, junior members in tight races are receiving unusual largess.
House Energy and Commerce Committee member Heather Wilson ( R-N.M.), facing a tough challenge, received $4,500 from NAB and $10,000 from NCTA. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), also of the Commerce Committee, was forced by district reshaping into a battle with a Democratic incumbent and raked in $6,500 from NAB and $4,000 from NCTA. Four-term Commerce member Bill Luther (D-Minn.), also hit by redistricting, faces a tougher-than-usual race to win votes from new constituents. He got $3,000 from NAB and $5,000 from NCTA.
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