Rep. Martin Russo (D-Ill.), author of a bill that would save commodity traders $400 million a year in taxes, received thousands of dollars in contributions from commodity industry sources in the last two months, Federal Election Commission reports filed yesterday disclose.
The Russo for Congress Committee reported that it collected $84,236 during the first six months of 1981, including at least $14,000 from commodity sources. The largest single contribution was $1,000 from the Auction Markets Political Action Committee of the Chicago Board of Trade.
Russo has acknowledged that Board of Trade Chairman Leslie Rosenthal helped him write a bill that would close a tax loophole known as the commodity straddle for all kinds of taxpayers except one: professional commodity traders.
A House-Senate conference committee was named yesterday to reconcile differences between Russo's bill and a much stronger Senate version introduced by Daniel Patrick Moynihan (-N.Y.).
That bill would outlaw the commodity straddle for everyone and collect $1.3 billion a year in taxes on income that now escapes taxation. Russo's version would collect $400 million a year less by allowing commodity traders to continue to use the loophole.
The commodity industry has waged an intense lobbying campaign to protect its straddle and had contributed tothe campaigns of many members of Congress recently.
Just how much cash the industry has passed out probably will not be known until after the conference committee has acted on the bill. Campaign contribution reports for the first six months of the year were due yesterday, but the FEC had received only a handful as of 5 p.m.
Russo said last night he had not seen the campaign contribution report and shields himself from such matters to keep from being influenced by contributors. "They can't use anything on me if I don't know," he said.
Russo's report lists a number of contributions from peopel who give their occupation as commodity trader or a related job.
Among the contributors are 21 women from the Chicago area who identified themselves as homemakers. Twenty of them have the same last name as persons registered as Chicago commodity traders with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. All 21 contributions were received on June 3; 19 of them were for the same amount: $500.
Ne FEC reports were available yesterday from four commodity industry political action funds that together passed out more than half a million dollars in contributions last year. Under FEC rules, the reports are considered filed on time if they are postmarked by July 31.