Under the Influence: Money and Power in Politics
Madeleine Scinto: March 2011 Archives

Yoder Quick To Get Down With Oil and Health Insurance

Rep. Kevin Yoder advocates for smaller government and less taxes. (Courtesy of Roll Call)Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., reports a net worth below zero, making him one of the poorest members of Congress, yet he still managed to score a prized seat on the Appropriations Committee.

How did he get that gig?

By Election Day in 2010, Yoder's fundraising total amounted to nearly $2 million, more than twice that of his opponent, Stephene Ann Moore. Moore's husband, Democrat Dennis Moore, had triggered the open seat race when he decided not to run for a seventh term.

Yoder won the seat, and while most representatives wait their turn for a spot on one of the most sought-after congressional committees, Yoder forged ahead by proving he knows how to get cash fast — particularly from big-bucks industries like pharmaceuticals and oil and gas.

Giving money to a campaign does not equal outright vote-buying, of course, but Yoder's agenda does appear to be closely in line with that of his biggest contributors.