Monday, December 15, 2014

Rep. Huizenga Vacations At Disney With Bankers He Regulates As They Benefit From His #CRomnibus Vote

By Brandon Hall

(Email him at

Congressman Huizenga! You've just finished an EXHAUSTIVE meeting of the House Financial Services Committee...What are you going to do?

"I'm going to Disneyland!"

Ok. Rep. Huizenga never actually said that. He did go to Disneyland for a political fundraiser though-an audacious trip that raises disturbing questions about the control special interests and big banks have over our political system.

The situation also highlights some interesting facets behind the scenes of the Huizenga Empire.

Huizenga is on the House Financial Services Committee, which, according to his website, has jurisdiction over "monetary policy, international finance, international monetary organizations, and efforts to combat terrorist financing. Agencies under oversight by the Committee include: the Federal Reserve, Treasury, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Credit Union Administration, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and the Export-Import Bank."


As Vice Chair, Congressman Huizenga will assist Subcommittee Chairman John Campbell (CA-45) in running committee hearings and essential committee operations.

The Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade has jurisdiction over legislation pertaining to:
  • Economic growth and stabilization;
  • Domestic monetary policy, including the effect of such policy and other financial actions on interest rates, the allocation of credit, and the structure and functioning of domestic financial institutions;
  • Coins, coinage, currency, and medals, including commemorative coins and medals, proof and mint sets and other special coins, and counterfeiting; 
  • International trade;
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF);
  • International investment policies, both as they relate to United States investments for trade purposes by citizens of the United States and investments made by all foreign entities in the United States.

The Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises. This subcommittee will have jurisdiction over issues surrounding:
  • Securities, exchanges, and finance; 
  • Capital markets activities, including business capital formation and venture capital; 
  • Activities involving futures, forwards, options, and other types of derivative instruments; 
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); 
  • Secondary market organizations for home mortgages, including the Federal National Mortgage Association, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, and the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation; 
  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency; and 
  • Federal Home Loan Banks.
That being said, in March of this year, Huizenga, along with fellow House member Tom Price, held a three day fundraising event at Disney in Orlando, Florida.

The weekend event combined baseball's spring training with the allure of Disney-all while giving defacto lobbyists an amazingly candid opportunity to schmooze with Huizenga and Price.

It was hosted by "Americans For Spring Training," a joint-fundraising committee benefiting Huizenga and Price created exclusively for the event-as required by law.

Records indicate Capital One officials attended the Disney Vacation, as well as people from Primerica, which according to Google "Primerica, Inc. is a distributor of financial services and sells products through representatives in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Guam."

Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. was also represented at Disney. They are "an American worldwide professional services, risk management, and insurance brokerage firm with headquarters in New York."
PAC's could also contribute directly to Huizenga's Congressional Campaign, where a source with deep knowledge says the fundraiser took in nearly $30,000. 
We are trying to confirm of donations like that of Citigroup made two and a half weeks after the event are part of that $30,000-or whatever the exact amount is.

Huizenga also held a similar event at Universal Studios in 2012. That weekend featured a "Harry Potter breakfast." (I want to go to the Harry Potter breakfast!)

Huizenga's Congressional campaign is loaded with contributions from big banks, financial institutions, and their employees. According to OpenSecrets.Com, 97% of his donors are PAC's or high-end donors.

MapLight.Com has a fantastic link showing the relation between Huizenga's votes and the special interests who wanted him to vote that way. Check it out.

Prominent Huizenga donors include Huntington Bank, Citigroup, Capital One, and JP Morgan Chase, among many, many others in the fields he regulates.

Huizenga even advertises on a flyer for his "Upper Hand PAC" that he is a member of the House Financial Services Committee-as if these folks are going to forget that fact! Why do you think they're there!

Given the extreme amount of influence the banking industry exerts over Huizenga, it's not difficult to see why he voted for the "CRomnibus" last week.

Elizabeth Warren rightfully points out (did I just say that?!) that the bill is a gift to the banks, allowing them to again be eligible for taxpayer funded bailouts.

The New York Times reports the bailout provision was actually written by a Citigroup lobbyist!

Sarah Palin said that Representatives like Huizenga who voted for the bill "flipped Americans the bird" and should face a primary "backlash."
Chris VanHollen, a Democrat whom Huizenga serves in the "Dutch Caucus" with, blasted the bill, saying that "“It is unacceptable to threaten a government shutdown in order to do the bidding of the biggest banks and put taxpayers on the hook again for their gambling losses."

Will Adams, spokesman for Rep. Justin Amash, a Grand Rapids Republican, told MLive that:

"Justin opposed the bill because it contains billions of dollars of special interest giveaways...This is the game that they play; negotiators wait to the very last minute ... and there's less than 48 hours to consider (the bill)," he said. "That's no way to fund the federal government, no way to spend a trillion dollars of American taxpayer money." 

Rep. Amash

Huizenga, however, defended his vote in a statement:

"Tonight, Congressman Huizenga (MI-02) released the following statement after voting to keep the government open, slash the IRS Budget, and enact conservative reforms.

“This bipartisan agreement remains consistent with the budget negotiated by Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray. Additionally, this legislation spends less than the most conservative budget put forward by Republicans when we regained the House majority in 2011.


“I am also pleased to see the House win the debate to hold the IRS accountable for targeting Americans for their political beliefs. While the IRS Budget reduction is not as much as the $788 million cut I authored and the House adopted during the appropriations process, this $346 million cut sends a message to bureaucrats in Washington that they are on notice.”

Jim Barry

Huizenga's half brother and campaign adviser Jim Barry, defending contributions from special interests, told MLive's Zane McMillin in 2013 that "Bill has a pro-growth, pro-job policy position, and those are interests that support that point of view and want to support candidates that have that viewpoint."

He also defended Huizenga in 2014, saying ""These are all business that have wide interests, that have a lot of reasons to support Bill," Barry said. "I don't see that as highly unusual. ... Everyone has a right to support candidates."

Barry himself benefits from the contributions.
In the 2-11/2012 cycle, Barry was paid $14,700 by the campaign. In the 2014/2014 cycle, Barry was paid $84,000. $29,000 was paid to him directly, $55,000 was funneled through his Holland based LLC, "JB America." It lists the same address as Barry's here. And HERE.

WMP has also learned that Barry will be paid by both the Ottawa County GOP and the Michigan Republican Party for campaign work performed while Interim Ottawa County GOP Executive Director this fall...

Huizenga District Director Greg VanWoerkom is also reaping the benefits of the big money being thrown at Huizenga.
VanWoerkom, left, with Huizenga-via (Andraya Croft | MLive)

In addition to his nearly $74,000/year Congressional salary, VanWoerkom has also been receiving compensation through the Huizenga for Congress campaign. Huizenga has paid VanWorkom nearly $100,000 via "Lakeshore Strategies," VanWoerkom's Norton Shores based LLC. $30,800 was paid in Huizenga's first term, $68,400 thus far in his second term.

VanWoerkom has also claimed thousands of dollars in taxpayer funded reimbursements on top of his yearly salary and substantial Huizenga for Congress compensation.

Huizenga's own campaign finances have been the subject of controversy.

According to reports filed with the United States House of Representatives Ethics Committee, Huizenga failed to provide adequate information on more than one occasion.

It's unclear if Huizenga was the subject of a complaint or inquiry for an ethics violation.

It's amazing that all of Team Huizenga's shenanigans seem legal, yet you and I can't *legally* bet on a Lions game!

I am going to need the Lions to win quite a few games if I ever hope to make it to the next "Harry Potter Breakfast" with Bill....


Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.
Email him at
Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the info. Without people like you, the main stream media would keep us all in the dark.