The 12 members of the new budget super committee have received more than $3 million over the past five years from special interests directly affected by potential cuts, an AP review finds. The money came from groups linked to defense contractors, labor unions, and health care providers, and buffered the lawmakers’ re-election campaigns. With Medicare and defense spending on the chopping block, the health care industry has donated $1 million to super committee members, while defense firms have handed them $700,000.
The bipartisan co-chairs of the panel, Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, have both benefited from the support of lobbyists and political groups. “With the public already disgusted with Washington in the wake of the debt limit debacle, it's vital that people have confidence that super committee members are thinking about the nation's best interests, not positioning their party or worrying about how their decisions appear to donors,” says the head of an advocacy group. But the White House calls the concerns “silly criticism.”