Rep. Campbell’s Amendment to Consumer Legislation a Blatant Conflict of Interest

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  • Dale Eisman

California congressman, and former auto dealer, offers amendment that would benefit donors and his own tenants at six different properties

Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.), whose official congressional website touts his work in the auto industry for over 25 years, introduced an amendment to the Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act of 2009 that would exclude car dealerships from oversight as outlined in the bill – including six tenants that paid Campbell between $600,000 and $6 million last year in rent, according to the congressman’s own personal financial disclosure forms.

The relationship with the auto dealing industry goes even deeper. Rep. Campbell has taken more than $170,000 in campaign contributions from auto dealers during his congressional career, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

“Rep. Campbell ought to pull this amendment which would serve to reward his donors and potentially line his own pockets,” said David Donnelly, National Campaigns Director for Public Campaign. “There is no question that Campbell’s role as landlord to six auto dealerships presents a direct conflict of interest in an amendment that aids auto dealers.”

“For too long political contributors have been paid back with policy favors,” said Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause. “It’s time to end pay-to-play politics and make our elections a debate of what policies are best for all of us – not just big donors. The time has come for the Fair Elections Now Act and we urge Rep. Campbell to add his name to the bill.”

The Consumer Financial Protection Act, which is being heard before the House Financial Services Committee, would create a Consumer Financial Protection Agency to oversee, monitor, and enforce all consumer financial protection laws. A wide array of financial transactions would be covered under the new Agency’s purview. Amendments to the legislation have been offered in a day-long markup session Wednesday.

The Fair Elections Now Act (H.R. 1826 and S. 752), introduced by Democratic Caucus Chair John Larson in the House and Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin in the Senate, would reduce the fundraising pressures on members of Congress. If enacted, congressional candidates would be able to run for office with a mixture of small donations and public funding. In addition to Rep. Larson, the House bill has 107 cosponsors

Based in Washington, D.C., Public Campaign is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing comprehensive reform of America’s election laws and works to hold politicians accountable for the favors they do for special interests.