Southern Turkeys

The noble turkey – which was, of course, nearly the country’s national bird more than 200 years ago – has representation in Washington, D.C. Or at least the farmers and industry behind the plump North American birds do.

The National Turkey Federation, the main advocate of the turkey industry, has reported spending $105,000 on lobbying during the first nine months of 2011.That’s down from peak activity of $320,000 per year on lobbying expenditures during 2008 and 2009, but still a sizable chunk of change.The group currently has five lobbyists on its payroll, and it has been active on agriculture issues, regulations regarding school meals, air and water quality issues and even the issue of ethanol subsidies.The group also helps many lawmakers get their fill of turkey.
During the 2010 election cycle, the National Turkey Federation’s political action committee raised a record $293,400.

Of that sum, about 55 percent went to Democrats and 45 percent went to Republicans, according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Overall, 93 different federal candidates collected money from the National Turkey Federation PAC during the 2010 election cycle.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, received the most — at $13,000. Lincoln lost her seat in November after surviving a contention primary battle.

This year, the National Turkey Federation PAC has raised about $147,300 through September, the date of the group’s most recent campaign finance filings. It’s also donated $64,000 to federal candidates — with about three-fourths of that money benefiting Republicans.

Another trade organization with turkey on its mind is the National Wild Turkey Federation.

This group is on pace for a record year in terms of lobbying — spending $120,000 between January and September, according to the Center’s research.

Three lobbyists have reported working on behalf of the National Wild Turkey Federation this year — mainly on agriculture and appropriations issues, including funding for “wildlife education.

The National Wild Turkey Federation does not operate a political action committee.

Illustration: From In the public domain.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published November 24 at
Michael Beckel

Michael Beckel

Michael Beckel joined the Center for Responsive Politics in February 2009 and has served as the money-in-politics reporter since December 2009. In that role, Michael writes extensively for the Center's OpenSecrets Blog about the influence of money in politics. His exploits have taken him inside the U.S. Supreme Court multiple times, including the oral arguments of the landmark campaign finance case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Previously, he completed a yearlong editorial fellowship with Mother Jones magazine, wrote for two alternative newsweeklies in Colorado and performed legislative research at Project Vote Smart. He is a 2005 graduate of Colorado College.