Pundits nationwide are citing Congressman Erik Paulsen’s race for re-election in Minneapolis’ western suburbs as among the tightest in the nation. But if he wins a sixth term this fall, it will be almost entirely due to large corporate patrons.
Thus far, Paulsen (R-Eden Prairie) has raised an impressive $1.9 million. Yet only a meager 2 percent of that comes from the little people, those donating less than $200. By comparison, his neighbor to the east, Minneapolis Congressman Keith Ellison, has accumulated 54 percent of his war chest through these small donations.
It should come as no surprise that Paulsen is shorn of support from anyone below the highest castes. It’s been six long years since he openly met with them in public, offering the chance to ask questions uncensored. They’re not exactly on a first-name basis.
During that time, he’s effectively turned his office into a publicly-subsidized lobbying firm, pushing the interests of those who just happen to shovel him the most lucre.
He’s voted to again allow insurers to avoid coverage of pre-existing conditions, which has brought in $184,000 from the insurance industry. He’s become Congress’ leading lobbyist for tax breaks for medical device makers, tallying another $142,000 from Big Pharma and the health products industry.
His biggest single donor is U.S. Bancorp, followed by Frauenshuh Companies – an Edina real estate company – 3M, Wells Fargo, and Hubbard Broadcasting, owner of KSTP.
Paulsen’s fealty is demonstrated by the legislative ratings of America’s biggest corporate lobbies. He gets a 91 percent rating from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has never met a pro-worker law that wouldn’t cause the collapse of capitalism as we know it. He also receives an impressive 81 percent rating from the Koch brothers, who believe the best government is one that serves as a welfare office for chemical and gas barons.
Unfortunately, the problem with fetching water for the CEO crowd means that most of your votes run afoul of your constituents. When it comes to the concerns of everyday voters, Paulsen’s ratings dive to the basement.
He receives a zero from the environmental group Clean Water Action. On women’s health issues, he also scores a zero from Planned Parenthood. As far as working people’s interests go, he gets but a 10 from the AFL-CIO.
The congressman appears to be hoping the money alone will carry him to a sixth term. The question is whether it will be enough to buy his constituents’ silence.