July 24, 2011
The cost of keeping Virginia legislators in office is paid almost entirely by business interests and their lobbyists in Virginia. And those interests say it's just a cost of doing business.
A Virginia Public Access Project analysis of 18 months of itemized campaign contributions to legislative candidates last week found that businesses that lobby the General Assembly or the lobbyists and firms that represent them invest almost exclusively in incumbents, as opposed to challengers or open-seat candidates.
The analysis reveals that 99.61 percent of the cash given to incumbents came from that group.
By contrast, challengers running against legislators received just 0.04 of a percentage point of their contributions from those givers, and candidates vying for open seats got 0.34 percent.
In dollars and cents, that means sitting lawmakers got $7.40 million of the $7.43 million in contributions business interests gave in legislative races since Jan. 1, 2010, VPAP found. Challengers got just $3,200.