This week's midterm elections could have significant ramifications for the online ad industry when it comes to pending privacy legislation and other issues. And, when it comes to campaign donations, the online ad industry's most prominent trade group picked several winners. Of the 17 legislators the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Political Action Committee has given campaign contributions to since 2009, 11 were re-elected.
Among the IAB's best bets this year was a September donation of $1,500 to the re-election campaign of Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan. The Republican (pictured above) is reportedly vying for the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; comprehensive privacy legislation was introduced in the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet earlier this year. Upton chaired that subcommittee from 2001 to 2006 and is a current member.
Following the November 2 elections, Republicans will take control of the House, meaning committee chairmanships will be transferred to GOP lawmakers. Though Rep. Joe Barton of Texas is the committee's ranking member, Capitol Hill insiders believe he may not be handed the position.
Throughout the year, the IAB's lobbying arm parsed out its money selectively, giving primarily to lawmakers who play key roles in crafting and moving legislation affecting consumer privacy, behavioral targeting, industry competition, and broader advertising and marketing related issues.
The 11 Federal legislators on the receiving end of IAB PAC cash in 2009 and 2010 who won re-election on Tuesday are Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY), Rep. Fred Upton (R - MI), and Rep. Ed Whitfield (R - KY).
Just two IAB funding recipients lost in 2010 - both in upsets. First came Rep. Michael Castle of Delaware, who lost in the Republican primary to the now-famous tea partier Christine O'Donnell, who went on to lose on Tuesday. Perhaps even more significant for the IAB and online ad industry concerns, however, was the loss of 14-term incumbent Democrat, Rep. Rick Boucher in his bid to hold on to his once-safe seat representing Virginia.
Boucher chairs the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, and floated a draft online privacy bill in May. That draft was largely met with negativity, both from industry players and privacy advocates, and was soon followed by a bill proposed by Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois, who, by the way, won his re-election bid. In addition to Upton, Stearns and Dingell sit on the technology and Internet subcommittee.
Though the IAB PAC funded Boucher's re-election campaign in two separate donations in 2009 and 2010 totaling $1,500 - including one for $500 made this September - the organization did not appear to be his biggest fan.
"Why does Rep. Boucher want to imprison the Internet economy?" asked IAB President Randall Rothenberg in a January 11 op-ed in beltway publication The Hill. He suggested Boucher's impending privacy bill "promises to erode the burgeoning field of e-commerce, harm ad-supported news and entertainment media, and destroy the tens of thousands of small businesses in all 50 states that have come to depend on interactive technologies for marketing, retailing, and customer connectivity."
The IAB also gave money in the past two years to four lawmakers who were not up for re-election this year, all Senators: Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), and Mark Warner (D-VA).
|IAB PAC Donations to Lawmakers, January-September 2010|
|Recipient||Amount||Key Committee Assignment/s|
|Boucher for Congress Committee (Rep. Rick Boucher, D-VA)||$500||Communications, Technology, and the Internet Subcommittee|
|Castle Campaign Fund (Michael Castle, R-DE)||$1,000||House Financial Services Committee|
|John D. Dingell for Congress (D-MI)||$1,000||House Energy and Commerce Committee|
|Gillibrand for Senate PAC (Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY)||$2,500||Senate Domestic and Foreign Marketing Subcommittee|
|Nelson 2012 (Ben Nelson (D-NE)||$1,000||Senate Domestic and Foreign Marketing, Inspection, and Plant and Animal Health|
|Friends of Cliff Stearns (R-FL)||$1,000||House Communications, Technology, and the Internet Subcommittee|
|Committee to Re-Elect Ed Towns (D-NY)||$1,000||House Oversight and Government Reform Committee|
|Upton for All of Us (Rep. Fred Upton, R-MI)||$1,500||House Communications, Technology, and the Internet Subcommittee|
|Friends of Mark Warner (D-VA)||$1,000||Senate Commerce Committee|
|Whitfield for Congress Committee (Rep. Ed Whitfield, R - KY)||$750||House Energy and Commerce Committee, Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee|
|Wyden for Senate (Ron Wyden, D-OR)||$4,900||Senate Int’l Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness Subcommittee|
|Total Campaign Contributions in 2010||$16,150||N/A|
|Source: FEC reports analyzed by ClickZ News|
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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.
March 19, 2014