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Our examination of contributions to the political action committee of those fiscally conservative Democrats, the Blue Dogs, showed that the energy, financial services, and health care sectors were the top givers.

In contrast, the 52 members of the coalition have gotten much of the funding for their individual campaign accounts from a traditionally Democratic source: organized labor.

A Center for Public Integrity analysis of CQ MoneyLine data reveals that these Democrats — generally considered among the friendliest to business interests — have raised more than $6 million combined for their campaigns from political action committees in the first half of 2009. Of that, nearly $1.5 million comes from labor unions. The second most generous group, the health care sector, was well behind, contributing just $816,000 to the Blue Dogs’ individual campaigns.

It may seem like an odd fit: Blue Dog co-founder Mike Parker of Mississippi remembers that during his time in Congress, “labor unions hated each and every one of us [Blue Dogs]…” But with so many business interests chomping at the bit to fund the Blue Dog PAC and the group holding the balance of power in the House, labor may need the Blue Dogs more than ever.

“Their contributions probably reflect the rational notion,” says political scientist G. Calvin Mackenzie of Colby College, “that a dollar given to a Blue Dog will have a lot more impact than one given to a reliable liberal.”

With generous backers on all sides of the political spectrum, the Blue Dogs have no shortage of bones to chew on.

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