Of candidates receiving campaign contributions in the 2018 election cycle from the political action committee of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Reps. Brian Babin (R-Texas) and Sam Graves (R-Mo.) are the top recipients, according to publicly available data from the Federal Election Commission.
Each has received $12,500 from OOIDA since January 1, 2017. Notably, Babin led a charge in Congress last year to attempt to delay the enforcement date of the electronic logging device by two years, though that effort ultimately failed. Babin has also filed in the House an OOIDA-backed bill to allow drivers to pause their 14-hour on-duty clock by up to three hours each day.
Graves, meanwhile, is a leading contender to replace outgoing Rep. Bill Shuster (who’s not seeking reelection) as head of the House’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Since January 1 of last year, OOIDA has contributed $162,000 to political campaigns, according to the data from the FEC. In a statement to Overdrive, OOIDA says it makes contributions “to lawmakers with a proven track record of supporting small-business truckers as shown in their votes.” OOIDA’s campaign contributions this cycle are trending lower than recent elections. It made more than $277,000 in contributions for the 2016 elections, and more than $268,000 in the 2014 midterms. In 2012, it donated more than $350,000.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) has received $8,500 from OOIDA this cycle. He’s a long-time ranking member of the House’s Transportation Committee and a proponent of bolstering highway funding and of driver pay reforms. He’s also voiced criticism of the U.S. DOT’s cross-border trucking program with Mexico.
OOIDA has also contributed to $10,000 to both the National Republican Congressional Committee, the umbrella committee backing Republican candidates, and the Progressive Americans for Democracy, which aids Democrats.
OOIDA has also contributed to the campaigns of Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), to whom OOIDA has given $4,000, and Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Montana), who co-sponsored a bill to exempt owner-operators from the ELD mandate. Gianforte has received $2,000 from OOIDA.
As noted by Overdrive coverage in July, trucking’s campaign contributions for the 2018 election cycle tilt heavily toward Republicans. Trucking industry contributors have donated over $4 million this cycle, with 83 percent of it going to Republican candidates.
ATA contributions favor Congressional leadership, California’s Jeff Denham
The American Trucking Associations election contributions so far this cycle total more than $800,000, with big chunks going to the broader party committees. It has donated $30,000 each to the Republican Senatorial Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Republican Congressional Committee.
It has also contributed $20,000 to Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), who has pushed in the House an ATA-backed proposal to rein in states ability to enforce meal and rest break laws for truck drivers.
ATA has also donated $17,500 to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), even though the Senate Majority Leader is not facing an election this year (he won’t be up for reelection until 2020).
DeFazio has received $15,000 from ATA this cycle. Outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), who’s not seeking reelection, has received $12,500 from ATA since last January.
ATA has also contributed $10,000 to the Fund for a Greater America — the political action committee supporting President Donald Trump.