Sen. Joe Manchin III, a West Virginia Democrat, and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat from Arizona, both voted for the Republican tax cut package on Tuesday. These are the first Democrats to do so.
Both made no attempt to conceal their vote, with Manchin saying afterward on Fox News: “You can ask anybody who came up and voted for this bill, I believe you’ll find we think it’s right, we believe it’s fair, we don’t take anything for granted and that’s what we did.” Sinema was at a Senate Democratic retreat, where the vote was highly anticipated. Her office issued a statement on the vote, but wouldn’t reveal to The Hill her vote.
In both cases, Manchin and Sinema made significant financial contributions from Republican lobbyists and industry groups. Earlier this month, the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan watchdog group, ranked Manchin as the “best-connected” senator. That’s probably not true any more.
Before becoming a U.S. senator, Manchin had a longstanding business relationship with T.J. Cavanaugh, an executive vice president at Goldman Sachs, and Cavanaugh’s wife, Laryssa. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Goldman has given the Manchin family $120,700 during their careers. The Arizona Republic reported that Goldman contributed $6,000 to Manchin’s re-election campaign in 2016. Manchin’s campaign got another $1,000 donation from Larry Kudlow, the Trump advisor and former CNBC personality who is the president’s top economic adviser.
Dudley Peterson, the CEO of American Airlines and a multimillionaire, may be the best-connected Montana Republican. In addition to giving Manchin $100,000 in 2015, the Kochs gave another $500,000 to Manchin’s 2014 re-election campaign. Manchin’s campaign got another $1,000 from Peterson himself. The American Petroleum Institute, a Washington lobbying group that has a major interest in weakening regulations, gave $10,000 to Manchin’s 2016 re-election campaign, along with another $5,000 from the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Sinema has had bigger donors than Manchin. For instance, in 2010, 2012 and 2014, the American Beverage Association gave her more than $15,000. Since she came to the Senate, the association has given her a total of $77,400. The Communications Workers of America gave her $12,000 in 2012, after Sinema announced her retirement. Since she has been in the Senate, the association has given her a total of $11,800. But most of her recent contributions have come from the tobacco industry. The American Lung Association gave her $6,000 in 2014 after she joined the Senate, as did the American Cancer Society.