On Oct 21 and Nov 2 of 2019, Peter DeFazio made social media posts claiming “93% of my donations have come from individuals donating amounts of $250 or under.” His 2020 campaign strategy includes advertising that he is “grassroots” and that his campaign is “powered by the people.”
The same 93% claim can be found on his campaign website: defazioforcongress.com
“Grassroots donors are the heart and soul of our campaign. We are powered by the people, for the people. I’m proud to say that over 93% of all of the contributions I have received have come from individuals donating $250 or less. Now that’s people-powered.”
Strangely, he made the same 93% claim regarding his 2016 campaign except then his claim was regarding donations of $100 or less rather than the $250 figure he is using for 2020.
“I’m especially proud of my grassroots funded campaign. Thanks to many supporters across the nation, 93% of donations to my 2016 campaign came from individuals donating $100 or less. That’s what I call powered by the people!”
Campaign finance watchdog, opensecrets.org, shows that DeFazio receives far more money from corporate PACs than from small individual donations both now and for his 2016 campaign.
2019 – 2020
Small Individual Contributions (< $200) $177,661
Business PACs $547,250
2015 – 2016
Small Individual Contributions (< $200) $289,706
Business PACs $573,536
Charting this data over 20 years shows the progression in DeFazio’s acceptance of corporate money. Two decades ago he received twice as much money from small individual donations than from corporate PACs. One decade ago it was about even. For 2018 he received 2.4 times more money from corporate PACs than small individual donations.
So far his 2020 campaign has received 3 times more business PAC money than small individual donations and is on pace to receive far more corporate PAC money than even in 2018.
As a comparison, through 2019, DeFazio raised over $550,000 from business PACs while the 4 freshmen representatives nicknamed “The Squad” have received an average of only $1,250. In small individual donations less than $200, “The Squad” has received an average of over $1.7 million while DeFazio has only received $177,000. Comparing the percentage of DeFazio’s funding coming from small individual donations to other Democrats in the House of Representatives, it’s easy to see he does not have a “grassroots” campaign.
The corporate influence is obvious. In the past, DeFazio may have legitimately been considered “progressive” but now, according to govtrack.com, is to the right of most Democrats in the house.
This increasing reliance on corporate PACs for campaign funding opens the door for those with the worst motivations to buy influence. US weapons manufacturers require a powerful lobby in Washington in order to maintain their massive arms sales throughout the world.
According to FEC receipts, since 2003 Representative DeFazio has accepted a quarter million dollars from over a dozen corporate PACs of the world’s top military contractors. This includes donations from leading war profiteers such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamics who rake in 10’s of billions annually in revenue due to never-ending US wars and record arms sales to Saudi Arabia and others.
When President Trump assassinated the top Iranian general, threat of war sent stocks for defense contractors skyrocketing. The day after the assassination, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamic CEO’s made a combined $2.4 million in personal stock holdings.
Stocks for defense contractors have been increasing for years. So have contributions made to DeFazio from weapons manufacturers and the military industrial complex. Under President Obama, DeFazio averaged $1,100 per month in donations from defense contractors. In 2019, under Trump, it is $4,100 and rising.
If Representative DeFazio feels he must rely on such corporate influence to win elections, he should just say so and not misrepresent himself as “grassroots” or “powered by the people.” And he certainly should not use dishonest statistics to deceive 4th District voters into thinking he is something that he is not.