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Finance, insurance are Meeks’ biggest backers

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks raised nearly $500 million, mostly from big business, in his campaign to win the Democratic Party primary.
TimesLedger Newspapers

On his way to a landslide victory in the Democratic Party primary last month, U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) outraised his nearest opponent, Mike Scala, by a ratio of 83:1, with the largest donations to his almost half-a-million-dollar war chest coming from the industries he holds sway over as a member of the House Committee on Financial Services.

The eight-term incumbent had received 66 percent of the vote in his bid for New York’s 5th Congressional District in the four-way June 26 primary, while Scala, a recent law school graduate from Rosedale, had pulled in 12 percent by the end of primary night, according to the Associated Press.

Scala’s campaign raised $5,807, 42 percent of which he self-financed, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission and the watchdog website opensecrets.org.

Meeks, on the other hand, was able to pull in $483,930, 72 percent of which was contributed to by political action committees.

Big business accounted for 94 percent of his PAC contributions, with the largest donors by far being the finance, insurance and real estate sectors, according to opensecrets.com . Meeks is a member of the House Committee on Financial Services, and sits on several subcommittees influencing legislative decisions over monetary policy, financial institutions, insurance and capital markets.

The large majority of individual contributors to Meeks’ campaign gave more than $200, and most of that money came from out of state, FEC filings show.

Leon Davis, a 69-year-old retired assistant director of housing with the city of Los Angeles, made a $250 contribution to Meeks’ campaign.

Davis said he had met the congressman through a mutual friend in Palm Springs, Fla., and he found him to have a positive personality.

“My friend and I discussed the type of work [Meeks] did and indicated he would need financial backing to continue doing that work,” said Davis, who has contributed to other out-of-state campaigns in the past.

Davis said that while he felt there were too many lobbyists affecting politics, he was not dispirited by the fact that Meeks raised so much money from corporate interests.

“The way I look at it, they all need funds to mount a successful campaign and stay in office,” he said.

Opensecrets.org credited Meeks’ campaign for fully disclosing the majority of his contributors.

Neither of the other two primary challengers raised the $5,000 contribution limit to require filings with the FEC. Former City Councilman Allan Jennings pulled in 12 percent and businessman Joseph Marthone got 10 percent, according to the AP.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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