A few years ago, I wrote a post that mentioned Missouri reactionary Blaine Luetkemeyer: Jesus Loves Everyone-- But Banksters... And He Hates Them. Do you recall Jesus ever becoming angry and violent, succumbing to hatred instead of love? I do; when he threw the money lenders out of the Temple. What's that got to do with Luetkemeyer? He was a bankster-turned-congressman (president of the small town bank-- and insurance agency-- his family owns) who exclusively serves the interests of the bankster fraternity. And as a member of the House Financial Services Committee, he's certainly been in a position to do just that. He's the ranking member of the very conservative subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions, which is populated by a pack of financial services-owned Republicans and New Dems. (My heart goes out to poor Ayanna Pressley and Nydia Velázquez, the only members actually interested in consumer protection on the 23-member panel.) Since being first elected in 2008, Luetkemeyer has accepted $5,120,116 in legalistic bribes from the industry he's supposed to be helping to oversee. Last cycle alone, he took $1,240,889 of their bribes.
Luetkemeyer's carefully gerrymandered district surrounds St. Louis, to the north, south and west, while avoiding black neighborhoods and coming up with a super-safe-for-fascism district with a PVI of R+18. Trump won two-thirds of the vote in the district both times he ran. The voters reelected Luetkemeyer last year with 69.4%. Although the district includes all of part of 13 counties, most of the voters like in just 4: St. Charles, Jefferson, Franklin and Cole. The only population centers that could pass for cities in the district are Jefferson City (pop- 43,000) and Fulton (pop-13,000).
Not enough of a national spotlight has been focussed on this particular behind-the-scenes shady crook. But this morning, as Luetkemeyer works diligently to get someone to mention he might be a Senate candidate for the open Blunt seat, Judd Legum brought something else up about him: his corporate enemies list. Legum's reported that Luetkemeyer is boasting that he will "retaliate against corporations that stopped funding his campaign."
Why is Luetkemeyer so concerned about corporate PAC money? It comprises the vast majority of his campaign funds. In the 2018 midterms, for example, Luetkemeyer received $1,682,228 from corporate PACs-- 72.6% of his total funds raised. That's the fifth highest percentage of any member of Congress that cycle. In contrast, Luetkemeyer raised just $33,321 from individuals donating $200 or less-- 1.44% of his total.
His reliance on corporate dollars is only increasing. In 2020, Luetkemeyer raised $1,589,845 from corporate PACs (78.8% of total funds) and just $16,287.05 from individuals donating $200 or less (0.8% of total funds).
Luetkemeyer's long roster of corporate PAC donors include many that have suspended donations to members of Congress, like himself, that voted to overturn the election. This group includes: AllState ($9,500 to Luetkemeyer's campaign), Amazon ($2,500), American Express ($10,000), AT&T ($10,000), Bayer ($5,000), Comcast ($7,000), Commerce Bank ($5,300), Exelon ($1,000), GE ($6,500), Hallmark ($5,000), KPMG ($10,000), Marriott ($2,500), Marsh & McLennon ($8,500), MassMutual ($10,000), Mastercard ($8,500), Morgan Stanley ($10,000), Nasdaq ($2,000), Nike ($1,000), PNC Bank ($10,000), PwC ($10,000), S&P Global ($5,000), and State Street ($6,000).
Luetkemeyer also received donations for numerous corporate PACs that have suspended all their contributions following the January 6 riot.
Allegedly threatening to seek retribution against former donors is certainly unsavory. But does it violate any law or ethics rule?
...the Campaign Legal Center (CLC), a non-profit advocating for ethical government, sent a letter to the House Ethics Committee. The CLC called on the committee "to immediately address threats from congressional staff to condition official actions and access to elected officials on campaign contributions." The CLC argued the conduct violated House Ethics rules, citing this passage from the House Ethics Manual:
"Members and staff are not to take or withhold any official action on the basis of the campaign contributions or support of the involved individuals… Members and staff are likewise prohibited from threatening punitive action on the basis of such considerations…"
The House Ethics Manual also advises members of Congress and staff "to avoid even the appearance that solicitations of campaign contributions are connected in any way with an action taken or to be taken in their official capacity."
Kedric Payne, CLC's General Counsel and the former Deputy Chief Counsel of the Office of Congressional Ethics, told Popular Information that Luetkemeyer's alleged conduct violates House ethics rules. Specifically, "the conduct violates the rule against threats of punitive actions based on whether someone contributes." Payne also said it was imperative that the House Ethics Committee take action. "If the Ethics Committee does not enforce this rule they promote a pay-to-play culture," Payne said.
Noah Bookbinder, president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), also blasted Luetkemeyer. "[T]he congressman's apparent belief that it is okay to retaliate against those who do not give him campaign money tells a lot about the state of our democracy; our representatives should never decide how to do their jobs based on who does or does not give them money, and his flaunting of consequences for those who fail to pay up represents a new low," Bookbinder told Popular Information.
Luetkemeyer's alleged threats are part of a larger campaign to pressure corporate PACs to resume donating. Bloomberg reports that corporate interests are looking to narrow down the list of 147 Republicans to a much smaller "no-fly list." This is consistent with a memo released by the Chamber of Commerce which opined that it was not "appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification."