As the first 2016 GOP presidential debate draws near, candidates are staking out their policy positions. One area of debate: Whether or not to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, which Congress failed to do before its funding expired a few weeks ago. The agency, which helps finance American exports, has been accused by some of being an enabler of crony capitalism and corporate welfare, rather than a facilitator of small-business growth, as others portray it.
All of the GOP candidates who are currently in the Senate have taken a stance on Ex-Im: Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Ted Cruz (Texas) oppose its reauthorization, while Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) stands alone among the Senate’s presidential hopefuls as a big supporter of the agency. And the antipathy of recent D.C. arrivals Paul, Rubio and Cruz toward the bank tracks with that of some of their top financial supporters —Club for Growth, Senate Conservatives Fund and FreedomWorks, highly ideological groups that aren’t afraid to take on fellow Republicans if they find their positions wanting.
By contrast, Graham, who has been in Congress since 1995, has taken in little money over the years from those groups.
“All of the GOP candidates who are currently in the Senate have taken a stance on Ex-Im”
Cruz, for example, has received $705,657 since the 2012 cycle from the Club for Growth, which opposes the bank’s reauthorization and released televised ads to build public opposition. The Senate Conservatives Fund has also written inopposition to the bank. Individuals from that organization and the PAC itself have given Cruz a combined $315,991.The organizations have been his top two contributors.
Similarly, Paul has received $106,515 from the Club for Growth and $32,085 from the Senate Conservatives Fund since the 2010 cycle — his No. 1 and No. 4 contributors, respectively. Rubio is no different, as he’s received $362,826 from the Club for Growth and $105,494 from the Senate Conservatives Fund, also since the 2010 cycle. The groups are Nos. 1 and 4, respectively, among his top donors.
The Club for Growth and its super PAC, Club for Growth Action, also spent a combined $75,368 on independent expenditures during the 2010 cycle to help Rubio’s Senate campaign, and $37,552 in favor of Paul’s. The group spent even more on independent expenditures to boost Cruz — $684,139 during the 2012 cycle, helping Cruz score an upset over a more establishment Republican candidate.
The Senate Conservatives Fund also spent $158,132 on independent expenditures for Rubio in the 2010 cycle , and $54,224 in favor of Paul. The fund and super PAC’s combined independent expenditures for Cruz came to a sizable amount — nearly $1.5 million during the 2012 cycle.
“President Barack Obama on Wednesday urged Congress to reauthorize the bank before lawmakers leave”
Rubio also benefited from $11,655 in independent expenditures in the 2010 cycle by FreedomWorks, which pitched in another $3,773 to help Paul. That all pales, though, next to the $456,006 the FreedomWorks super PAC spent to help elect Cruz in 2012.
For Graham it’s the opposite. Throughout his career, he’s received $98,300 and $69,543 from the individuals employed at and the PACs associated with General Electric and Boeing, respectively — both of which are huge beneficiaries of the bank. In addition, during the 2014 cycle, Graham received contributions from PACs and employees of companies like Wells Fargo ($17,550), Caterpillar Inc ($10,000) and Textron Inc ($8,000) — all of which have lobbied in favor of the bank’s reauthorization.
Graham has received very little from the conservative outside spending groups that oppose the bank — just $2,500 from the Club for Growth, which came during the 2002 election cycle. General Electric and Boeing, however, were Graham’s second and fourth biggest contributors, respectively, from 2009-2014.
President Barack Obama on Wednesday urged Congress to reauthorize the bank before lawmakers leave for their August recess. The Senate may attempt to attach it to a major infrastructure bill, though it’s far from certain that would help Ex-Im gain House approval — thus leaving the agency in wait-and-see mode for the time being.
This article originally appeared on the OpenSecrets.org website and has been published here under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License