Who Is Funding Richard Neal’s Re-Election Campaign? Big Tobacco, Defense Contractors, Alcohol Producers, Credit Card Companies

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2020/08/01/who-is-funding-richard-neals-re-election-campaign-big-tobacco-defense-contractors-alcohol-producers-credit-card-companies/

Richard Neal, the Springfield congressman who chairs the Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, faces a primary challenge from his left in this election cycle, so he has raised a lot of money to try to maintain his seat in Congress.

Neal, who represents Massachusetts’s First Congressional District, which covers western Massachusetts, is being primaried by Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse.

The House Ways and Means Committee “is the chief tax-writing committee in the House of Representatives”, according to House.gov, which makes the chairman extraordinarily powerful. It also makes the chairman of the committee an attractive recipient for campaign donations.

Neal is dominating the fund-raising game — with the help of corporate political action committees. 

After the end of the second quarter of 2020, Neal’s campaign had raised $3,041,205.92, including $336,920 in the most recent quarter, according to Federal Election Commission documents. It’s far more than the $840,542.27 total Morse’s campaign had raised by the end of June, but Morse’s second quarter 2020 fund raising wasn’t far off Neal’s pace; Morse raised $321,927.01 from April 1 to June 30.

However, unlike Neal, Morse does not accept money from corporate PACs, as he stated on Twitter last August. Neal, on the other hand, is the top recipient of corporate PAC money in the U.S. House of Representatives in this election cycle. Neal has received $1,970,393 from corporate PACs in this election cycle, accounting for more than half of his fund raising, according to Open Secrets.

Several PACs have contributed the maximum allowed $10,000 during this election cycle to help re-elect Neal. They include political action committees representing tobacco giant Altria Group, the parent company of Philip Morris USA, which produces Marlboro cigarettes, and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, which produces Copenhagen and Skoal dip; defense contractor Boeing; credit/debit card company Visa; and alcohol producer Constellation Brands.

Other PACs that have given Neal’s campaign $10,000 in this election cycle include the American Bankers Association, General Electric; the Ernst & Young accounting firm; the National Venture Capital Association; John Hancock Financial; MassMutual; MetLife; the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors; HCA Healthcare; and the Insured Retirement Institute.

Coincidentally, Neal opposes pulling U.S. troops out of Syria; supports increasing a plan to increase the excise tax on e-cigarette tobacco that exempts traditional tobacco products; and tanked a bipartisan proposal to end surprise medical billing.

The Democratic Party platform in 2016 condemned the influence of corporate PAC donations saying, “Big money is drowning out the voices of everyday Americans, and we must have the necessary tools to fight back and safeguard our electoral and political integrity.”

First elected in 1988, the 71-year-old Neal is the longest-tenured U.S. representative from Massachusetts. He is a former mayor of Springfield, the largest city in the congressional district. This past January he was inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame.

His challenger, Morse, is 31 and would be one of the youngest members of Congress if elected. Morse, an open homosexual and a Jew, is running on a platform of supporting Medicare-for-all, a Green New Deal, canceling student loan debt, and guaranteeing taxpayer-funded abortions to all women in the country, among other progressive causes. Morse’s campaign web site does not explain how to pay for these plans.

The winner of the September 1 primary will not face a Republican challenger in the general election.

Altria Group, Visa, Constellation Brands, as well as the campaigns for Neal and Morse could not be reached for comment earlier this week. Boeing declined to comment.

While Neal is cozy with certain large corporations, he is not a conservative or a moderate. As of 2019, Neal’s lifetime American Conservative Union rating was 6.44, with 100 being the most conservative rating. He cast zero votes in 2019 that the American Conservative Union considered conservative.

Neal’s calendar year 2019 rating from Americans for Democratic Action, a liberal group, was 95 percent, with 100 percent being the most liberal rating. His one straying from the liberal line was voting in favor of President Donald Trump’s new trade deal with Canada and Mexico.