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Most stories about Republican Rep. Marilyn Musgrave’s prodigious campaign fundraising focus on how she’s tapped into conservative ideological donors and garnered the help from the stars of the GOP firmament, including President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and the latest, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL). But Musgrave also raises significant amounts from business interests-and she promotes their issues on Capitol Hill, often to the detriment of families living in her district.

Case One: Bankrutpcy “Reform.” In 2005, Rep. Marilyn Musgrave was one of the co-sponsors of H.R. 685, which consumer groups say makes it tougher for ordinary people to recover from financial hardship by declaring bankruptcy. In particular, the legislation “hurts children and single mothers by failing to protect child support or alimony payments,” says the Consumers Union. President Bush signed the legislation in April 2005 and it went into effect the following October.

The bank and credit card/finance companies that championed the legislation have given Musgrave $125,250 over the course of her congressional career, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit, nonpartisan Washington-based group that tracks money in politics.

Case Two: Health Savings Accounts. Last week Wendy Norris reported on Musgrave’s hearing in Loveland where proponents of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) testified, echoing an earlier hearing she chaired in April in Washington, D.C. As Norris reported, HSAs-tax-free accounts people can use to pay for health care costs– actually increase the number of uninsured Americans and drive up the price of insurance by splitting the risk pool into wealth-healthy and poor-unhealthy individuals. The number of people in Colorado without health insurance is already rising, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Musgrave has received $86,399 from securities and investment firms, which are gung-ho about the prospect of HSAs, which they are eager to manage. She also also taken $56,552 from insurance companies (although all of these may not be health insurance companies).

“Given that these donors are among her top benefactors, it’s not surprising that Musgrave takes these positions,” says Sheila Krumholz, acting executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. “After all, donors give to lawmakers who support their legislative agendas. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.”

For the donors and Musgrave, yes-but what about the families living in the fourth Congressional District?

[Crossposted at www.muckrakingmom.com]

CORRECTION: The Consumers Union document I quoted referred to an earlier version of the bankrutpcy bill. However, read here to see a report on how the bankruptcy reform bill passed last year adversely affects women. “Make no mistake, the new bankruptcy bill will fall hardest on women,” says Elizabeth Warren, a professor at Harvard Law School and coauthor of “All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan.”

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About the Author

Nancy Watzman

is a Denver-based writer.

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