Category Archives: Elected Officials

Membership of the 115th Congress: A Profile

Source: Jennifer E. Manning, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R44762, October 1, 2018

This report presents a profile of the membership of the 115th Congress (2017-2018) as of October 1, 2018. Statistical information is included on selected characteristics of Members, including data on party affiliation, average age, occupation, education, length of congressional service, religious affiliation, gender, ethnicity, foreign births, and military service. In the House of Representatives, there are 237 Republicans (including 1 Delegate and the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico), 197 Democrats (including 4 Delegates), and 7 vacant seats. The Senate has 51 Republicans, 47 Democrats, and 2 Independents, who both caucus with the Democrats. The average age of Members of the House at the beginning of the 115th Congress was 57.8 years; of Senators, 61.8 years, among the oldest in U.S. history. The overwhelming majority of Members of Congress have a college education. The dominant professions of Members are public service/politics, business, and law. Most Members identify as Christians, and Protestants collectively constitute the majority religious affiliation. Roman Catholics account for the largest single religious denomination, and numerous other affiliations are represented, including Jewish, Mormon, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Greek Orthodox, Pentecostal Christian, Unitarian Universalist, and Christian Science. The average length of service for Representatives at the beginning of the 115th Congress was 9.4 years (4.7 House terms); for Senators, 10.1 years (1.7 Senate terms).

Tracking Trump’s Conflicts of Interest – Details and news coverage of the Trump Family’s business and financial dealings

Source: Sunlight Foundation, 2018

This database is part of the Sunlight Foundation’s ongoing “Tracking Trump’s Conflicts of Interest” project, funded by the Lodestar Foundation. As we continue to learn about the First Family’s business holdings, this database will be updated. Learn more about the project or our methodology and download the data. Get involved and help with the updates by contacting us here.

2017-2018 Official Congressional Directory, 115th Congress, Convened January 3, 2017

Source: U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO), S. Pub. 115-7, 2018

From the press release:
The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) makes available the authentic, digital version of the official directory of the 115th Congress.

Mandated by Title 44 of the U.S. Code, the Congressional Directory is prepared by GPO under the direction of the Joint Committee on Printing (JCP). More than just a guide to Members, committees, and officials of the 115th Congress, the Congressional Directory is the only document issued by Congress that shows the overall organization of the two chambers and their committees, offices, and support organizations.

The Directory includes historical statistics, information on the Capitol buildings and grounds, and a guide to the other agencies of the Legislative Branch. In addition, the Congressional Directory provides information on the departments and agencies of the Executive Branch, the U.S. Courts, international organizations, foreign diplomatic offices in the United States, and members of the congressional press, radio, and television galleries…..

Labor Unions and Unequal Representation

Source: Daniel Stegmueller – Duke University – Department of Political Science, Michael Becher- Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, Konstantin Käppner – University of Konstanz, Date Written: July 23, 2018

From the abstract:
Recent research has documented that lawmakers are more responsive to the views of the affluent than to the less well-off. This raises the important question of whether there are institutions that can limit unequal representation. We argue that labor unions play this role and we provide evidence from the contemporary U.S. House of Representatives. Our extensive dataset combines a novel measure of district-level union strength, drawn from 350,000 administrative records, with income-specific measures of constituency preferences based on 223,000 survey respondents matched to 27 roll-call votes. Exploiting within-district variation in preference polarization, within-state variation in union strength and rich data on confounds, our analysis rules out a host of alternative explanations. In contrast to the view that unions have become too weak or fragmented to matter, they significantly dampen unequal responsiveness: a standard deviation increase in union membership increases legislative responsiveness towards the poor by about 9 percentage points.

Today’s GOP leaders have little in common with those who resisted Nixon

Source: Michael Koncewicz, The Conversation, August 23, 2018

Republican leaders in 2018 are profoundly different than the ones who dealt with Watergate in the 1970s.

During Watergate, a significant number of GOP members of Congress and the Nixon administration publicly resisted President Richard Nixon’s efforts to undermine the rule of law.

Today’s GOP leaders, with few exceptions, meekly follow President Trump.

Republicans in Congress, and even GOP candidates for Congress, have been loathe to criticize the president. Their submissiveness has significant implications. In my view, some Republicans today are, with the support of the president, openly impeding an ongoing investigation that may or many not implicate Trump.

Recent attacks from Republicans on Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has made that much clear.

That’s in contrast to how some prominent members of the GOP acted during the Watergate crisis that led to President Nixon’s resignation.

Research in my forthcoming book “They Said No to Nixon” reveals that Republican civil servants serving in President Nixon’s administration blocked his attempts to politicize their work.

Their stories, when contrasted with the actions of Republicans today, show how the GOP has transformed from a party that included moderate civil servants to one that embraces a culture of loyalty now….

Bias in Perceptions of Public Opinion among Political Elites

Source: David E. Broockman, Christopher Skovron, American Political Science Review, Volume 112, Issue 3, August 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The conservative asymmetry of elite polarization represents a significant puzzle. We argue that politicians can maintain systematic misperceptions of constituency opinion that may contribute to breakdowns in dyadic representation. We demonstrate this argument with original surveys of 3,765 politicians’ perceptions of constituency opinion on nine issues. In 2012 and 2014, state legislative politicians from both parties dramatically overestimated their constituents’ support for conservative policies on these issues, a pattern consistent across methods, districts, and states. Republicans drive much of this overestimation. Exploiting responses from politicians in the same district, we confirm these partisan differences within individual districts. Further evidence suggests that this overestimation may arise due to biases in who contacts politicians, as in recent years Republican citizens have been especially likely to contact legislators, especially fellow Republicans. Our findings suggest that a novel force can operate in elections and in legislatures: Politicians can systematically misperceive what their constituents want.

The Shadow Rulers of the VA

Source: Isaac Arnsdorf, ProPublica, August 7, 2018

How Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter and two other Mar-a-Lago cronies are secretly shaping the Trump administration’s veterans policies.

Last February, shortly after Peter O’Rourke became chief of staff for the Department of Veterans Affairs, he received an email from Bruce Moskowitz with his input on a new mental health initiative for the VA. “Received,” O’Rourke replied. “I will begin a project plan and develop a timeline for action.”

O’Rourke treated the email as an order, but Moskowitz is not his boss. In fact, he is not even a government official. Moskowitz is a Palm Beach doctor who helps wealthy people obtain high-service “concierge” medical care.

More to the point, he is one-third of an informal council that is exerting sweeping influence on the VA from Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida. The troika is led by Ike Perlmutter, the reclusive chairman of Marvel Entertainment, who is a longtime acquaintance of President Trump’s. The third member is a lawyer named Marc Sherman. None of them has ever served in the U.S. military or government.

Yet from a thousand miles away, they have leaned on VA officials and steered policies affecting millions of Americans. They have remained hidden except to a few VA insiders, who have come to call them “the Mar-a-Lago Crowd.”….

Related:
Trump allies who belong to his private Mar-a-Lago club are reportedly making decisions for the VA
Source: Yen Nee Lee, CNBC, August 8, 2018

– Marvel Entertainment Chairman Ike Perlmutter, a Palm Beach doctor named Bruce Moskowitz and lawyer Marc Sherman were found to exert “sweeping influence” on policies concerning America’s military veterans, according to a report by ProPublica.
– The report was based on “hundreds of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and interviews with former administration officials,” ProPublica said.

Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Cronies Secretly Shaped Veterans Affairs Policy
Source: Tome Porter, Newsweek, August 8, 2018

Trump Has Reportedly Handed Over Control of the VA to His Rich Mar-a-Lago Cronies
Source: Rafi Schwartz, Splinter, August 8, 2018