Major Political Donors Have Access to TPP Documents. Everyone Else? Not So Much.

admin | January 15, 2014

The United States is currently engaged in secret negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a multinational trade agreement with the goal of liberalizing trade among a dozen or so countries that border on the Pacific Ocean. A draft of the TPP chapter on intellectual property that was recently published by WikiLeaks shows that the U.S. has been pushing the other countries involved in the negotiations to make their laws on copyright, patents and trademarks more agreeable to U.S. companies in the film, telecommunications, and pharmaceuticals industries, among others.

Aside from select members of the Administration, the only people with full access to the working documents on the TPP negotiations are the members of the United States Trade Representative's (USTR) trade advisory system, including the 18-member Industry Trade Advisory Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (ITAC-15). Members of ITAC-15 include representatives from businesses and industry groups like the Recording Industry Association of America, Verizon, and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America; no public-interest groups, academics, or other non-industry experts serve on the committee. 

The industry trade advisory system was created by Congress, and membership is partly based on recommendations made from senators and representatives. The organizations represented on ITAC-15 include several top political spenders, who combined have given millions of dollars to members of Congress in recent years. 

Data: MapLight analysis of campaign contributions to current members of the Senate and House of Representatives from Political Action Committees (PACs) and employees of organizations represented by the Industry Trade Advisory Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (ITAC-15), from Jan. 1, 2003 - Dec. 31, 2012. Data source:

  • The 18 organizations represented by ITAC-15 gave nearly $24 million to current members of Congress from Jan. 1, 2003 - Dec. 31, 2012.
  • AT&T has given more than $8 million to current members of Congress, more than any other organization represented by ITAC-15.
  • House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has received $433,350 from organizations represented by ITAC-15, more than any other member of Congress.
  • Democrats in Congress have received $11.4 million from organizations represented by ITAC-15, while Republicans in Congress have received $12.6 million.
  • The members of Congress sponsoring fast-track legislation, which would allow the President to block Congress from submitting amendments to the TPP, have received a combined $758,295 from organizations represented by ITAC-15. They include Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus ($140,601), Senate Finance Committee Ranking Members Orrin Hatch ($178,850), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Camp ($216,250), House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade Chairman Devin Nunes ($86,000), and House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions ($136,594).
Organizations Represented by the Industry Trade Advisory Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (ITAC-15)

Contributions to Congress Since 1/1/2003

AT&T $8,056,939
General Electric * $5,262,753
Verizon $5,021,681
Johnson & Johnson $1,812,170
Cisco $1,413,198
Biotechnology Industry Organization $551,792
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America $546,155
Recording Industry Association of America $493,986
Mylan Inc. $473,050
Gilead Sciences $196,150
Entertainment Software Association $114,650
Zippo $25,250
Accessory Network Group $4,100
Copyright Clearance Center $860
Infectious Disease Research Institute $500
U.S.-China Business Council $0
MDB Capital Group $0
Coalition for Intellectual Property Rights $0
Grand Total $23,973,234

* Excludes contributions from GE Financial Assurance.

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