Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Fine Art of Buying Influence

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist


Recently while digging through records of political donations, I found a very interesting document at www.opensecrets.org that identifies the 100 biggest political donors of the past twenty years. Most are corporations or labor organizations, and also included are a couple of special interest groups. Although the information on the list confirmed my basic belief that big business is generally pro-Republican and labor is normally pro-Democratic, it was still fascinating to see it writ large.

The number one donor over the past twenty years was AT&T. I grew up in the sixties when Ma Bell was recognized by many as Public Enemy #1. Congress broke that evil monopoly up several decades ago, but...she's coming back! I used to have my cellular service with Cingular and was pleased with that arrangement. Then Cingular was swallowed by Southwestern Bell, which in turn was swallowed by AT&T - and after all of that swallowing, service wound up in the crapper! Ma Bell has given over forty million dollars to political candidates during the past twenty years - 44% of that went to Democrats and 55% went to Republicans. Do you suppose that she wants anything in return for all of that campaign cash?

On the other side of the fence, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees - a union of government workers - gave almost the same amount of money over the same time period with 98% of it going to Democrats and 1% to Republicans.

My insurance carrier (all right, HMO!), Blue Cross-Blue Shield, has felt the need to use my premiums and those of other suckers for over $14 million in political donations over the past two decades. Thirty-eight percent of it went to Democrats and 61% was lavished on Republicans - and my rates just went up! Bastards!

Exxon Mobil, those fine folks who tried to turn Alaska into one big oil slick, and got off without paying nearly what they should have for causing an ecological disaster, donated a hefty $10 million to political candidates over the last twenty years. Eighty-six percent of that went to Republicans. Color me surprised!

Groups representing medical providers and pharmaceuticals leaned heavily Republican, as did the auto and oil industries. Groups focusing on the people who actually do the work that make the corporations rich tended to be strongly Democratic. Corporations, while basically Republican, were more likely to hedge their bets and give some of their donations to Democrats. Conversely, labor unions and groups representing workers that normally lean Democratic, tended to be more purist in their ideologies and were far less likely to share their donations with Republicans.

Surprisingly, the strongest Republican donor was Amway which donated over $8 million and gave 99% of it to the GOP!

Special interest groups split along ideological lines: Emily's list, a strongly feminist organization, gave $20 million - with 99% of it going to Democrats. The eternally angry National Rifle Association, on the other hand, gave $17 million, with 82% of that going to Republican candidates. (While the NRA collects donations and membership dues from individuals, it is funded in large part by gun manufacturers who monetarily benefit from the defeat of any gun control measures.)

Calvin Coolidge, the man who was at the helm while America sailed at top speed toward the Great Depression, prophetically declared that "The business of America is business." Apparently the business of business and labor is politics!

2 comments:

Brenda from Mac County said...

I have a theory. I think the gun owners fund the NRA and also see to it that the gun controversy gets stirred up, to begin with. They profit from the fear. If people think a good might become scarce, they buy it. It's such a non issue it is pathetic. Nobody wants to take away their stupid guns.

xobekim said...

I agree Open Secrets Rock! For Trent Franks, your Representative, top donors were
National Assn of Realtors for $10,000;
Raytheon Co $10,000;
Orbital Sciences Corp $9,500;
Rural/Metro Corp $7,300;
Honeywell International $7,000;
and Frank's top donors by industry were :
Defense Aerospace $27,750
Retired $23,850
Real Estate $21,200
Oil & Gas $20,250
Health Professionals $18,100

Now track his Roll Call votes on http://thomas.loc.gov/ and figure out how the story line plays out.