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U.S. outdoor sector backs Democrats

The U.S. outdoor-advertising sector is heavily supporting Democratic candidates in the run-up to November's elections, a Screenmediamag.com analysis of campaign donations has revealed.

Since the beginning of 2007, the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), its board members and its key management have donated a total of $197,802 to Democrats against just $67,437 to Republicans, according to Federal Election Commission records.

The largest single donor was Richard Schaps, CEO of outdoor firm Van Wagner and an OAAA vice-chair, who gave $74,400 – entirely to Democrats.

And the biggest beneficiaries of the sector's support were the Democratic Congressional and Senatorial Campaign Committees, which between them received $62,700.

Among individual politicians, the largest total went to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, also a Democrat, whose election organisation banked $14,800. Reid came under fire last year for trying to insert measures into funding legislation that would have exempted outdoor-advertising firms' older billboards from complying with highway-beautification laws. He was thwarted in the attempt, however.


Focus on Congress

Donations to Presidential hopefuls such as Barack Obama, John McCain and Hillary Clinton were comparatively low, doubtless indicating the conviction of the outdoor sector – like so many industries – that the decisions directly affecting it will be taken on Capitol Hill rather than the White House.

For example, about a third of members of both the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee received campaign funding from the OAAA or personnel associated with it.

The OAAA identifies the two committees as having “primary jurisdiction over the issues affecting outdoor advertising”, and about 39 percent of the industry association's $100,170 in donations went to members of the House committee alone.

However, while individual donors strongly favoured Democratic candidates, the OAAA itself spread its funds much more evenly, with its political action committee giving $54,952 to Democrats and $45,218 to Republicans.

November's U.S. elections will see the country choosing not only a president, but also senators from 33 states and representatives from all 50.

Screenmediamag.com analysed 189 separate records of campaign donations since 1 January 2007.

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