Democratic Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema thumbs down a $15 minimum wage.

Congratulations, Senator Sinema!

in Sludge
on March 9, 2021

Sludge periodically gives special recognition to a public official who has recently received an award from an industry lobbying group. We kick off the series this week with a big congratulations to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who recently got not one but two awards from a major corporate lobbying operation!

Sinema was given the U.S. National Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Abraham Lincoln Leadership for America Award and Jefferson-Hamilton Award for Bipartisanship last summer. She was the only Democrat to win both awards.

As the Chamber explains on its site, the Abraham Lincoln Leadership for America Award is given based on how closely lawmakers follow the business lobbying group’s orders. “Since the start of the 116th Congress, the Chamber has urged members to cosponsor certain bills and refrain from cosponsoring others,” the chamber’s site reads. “This award is based on the number of times a member took the recommended actions.” The Jefferson-Hamilton Award for Bipartisanship award is based on how many bipartisan bills the chamber does not oppose members of Congress have signed on to. Sinema was the only Chamber honoree to score 100% on the rankings for both awards.

Sinema first entered electoral politics in 2002 as an anti-war Green Party candidate, but finished last in a five-candidate race for a seat in the Arizona legislature. Over the next several years, Sinema reworked her image and won election to the U.S. House as a conservative Democrat in 2012. 

Once in Congress, she quickly rose through the ranks of centrists to become chair of the PAC of the Blue Dog Caucus in the 115th Congress and helped to raise maximum donations from the PACs of companies including Exxon Mobil, Walmart, and Lockheed Martin. She was elected to the Senate in 2018 and took bold stances like being the only Democrat not to endorse a return to the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules, which was opposed by the Chamber of Commerce. 

Other maverick actions by Sinema include her votes for GOP bills like Sen. Mike Crapo’s (R-Idaho) bank deregulation bill and Rep Ed Whitfield’s (R-Ky.) bill allowing states to opt out of Obama’s Clean Power Plan. The Daily Poster published an article with more details on her transition to corporate ally in the swamp, which you can read by clicking here

The Chamber of Commerce is the largest lobbying force against a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15, which Sinema epically thumbed down on the Senate floor last week. Arizona had a poverty rate of 13.5% in 2019 according to numbers from the US Census Bureau, above the average national rate of 12.3%. Poverty is especially prevalent among Arizona’s youth, with 19.1% of individuals in the state younger than 18 living below the poverty line in 2019. 

Arizona’s biggest employers include Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons, and McDonald’s, all member companies of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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