Tag Archives: Money in Politics

Rep. Mark Amodei: We Don’t Have Enough Corporate Money in Politics?

Nevada’s own Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV2) may believe there isn’t enough corporate money in politics — On April 17, 2017 he introduced H.R. 2101, the Prior Approval Reform Act, which would make it easier for business trade associations to make political contributions.  Ah, just what we need! More corporate money in our political system!

The bill has the blessing of the Association of General Contractors, which posted the following argument on line in May, 2017:

“This legislation would repeal the prior approval requirement that is unfairly imposed upon and discriminates against corporate-member trade association PACs, like AGC PAC.

As you may know, the Federal Election Campaign Act requires the political action committee (PAC) of a trade association with corporate members, like AGC of America, to obtain prior approval in writing from a member corporation before communicating detailed information about the PAC and/or soliciting its executive or administrative staff. Furthermore, the regulation states that a corporate member may approve solicitations by only one trade association per calendar year.

AGC members have a constitutional right to join together in support of or in opposition to candidates for political office. Requiring prior approval discourages our members from participating in the association’s PAC, and creates an unequal playing field that restricts your First Amendment rights to free speech.”

Oh, the horror — “burdensome regulations” which seek to limit corporate political activities like soliciting money from members for advertising campaigns.  Notice please that nothing in the rationale posits that trade associations are not allowed to indulge in money gathering and expenditures — only that they have to get prior approval.  They certainly aren’t forbidden from engaging in PACs, the post only asserts that the corporations find this regulation ‘discouraging.’

The contractors take their argument a step further in this letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan: (pdf)

“Trade associations, like AGC, are discriminated against because their PACs are the only political committees that must first obtain exclusive permission from member companies before soliciting eligible individuals for support. No other class of PAC, including corporate, labor union, and individual membership association, is subject to the prior approval requirement. The requirement also restricts the First Amendment rights of AGC member company employees. The hardworking men and women in the construction industry are often frustrated that their company must first grant permission before they can be asked to make a personal contribution. It makes no sense that they can be solicited by individual member PACs and outside groups, but not by the trade association in which they participate unless their company provides its permission. Members of AGC have a constitutional right to join together in support of, or in opposition to, candidates for political office.”

Humm, a “hardworking” person in the construction sector can’t be solicited for a contribution unless the member company approves.  Let’s take a look at the trade associations which would benefit from this “reform,”  the list would include the following — America’s Health Insurance Plans, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, CTIA the Wireless Association, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, The Internet Association (Facebook, Google, Amazon), Securities Industries and Financial Markets Association, National Association of Federal Credit Unions, Global Automakers, Growth Energy, Airports Council International, Airlines for America,  International Franchise Association, the American Medical Association, Motion Picture Association of America, US Chamber of Commerce, American Chemistry Council, US Travel Association, National Federation of Independent Business, Interstate Natural Gas Association, Business Roundtable, Nuclear Energy Institute, American Gaming Association, National Retail Federation, Independent Petroleum Association, Information Technology Industry Council, American Petroleum Institute, National Association of Realtors, American Bankers Association… if these are the top trade association lobby organizations in Washington, D.C. it’s hard to see precisely how these powerful outfits are “discouraged” from political participation by a “burdensome” regulation that requires them to get permission from their components before soliciting donations from their employees.

What we have here, compliments of Nevada Representative Mark Amodei, is yet another proposal designed to insert even more corporate money into the American political process.  Thus much for representing the “little guy.”

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Filed under Amodei, Nevada politics, Politics

Heller Gets By With A Little Help From His Friends

There is all manner of money in politics, but sometimes the shape of it is more interesting than the amount. Thus far Senator By Appointment Only™  Dean Heller (R-NV) has amassed $6,559,958 and presumably some change, has spent $2,110,154, and has $4,449,806 on hand [OpenSecrets]  — surely sufficient to run a well oiled campaign.  However, the “shape of the contributions” are more intriguing than the amount.

$3,192,003 or 49% comes from large individual contributions (over $200.00); $391,217 (6%) comes from small donors.  $1,608,734, or 25% of his receipts to date come from PACS.   $379,718 comes from Leadership PACs, political action committees of, by, and for politicians.  In fact, if we count Leadership PACs as a industry, they comprise the largest single sector contributing  to Senator Heller’s campaign.  Casinos contributed $71,000; Securities and Investment interests contributed $63,000; and, real estate interests contributed $13,500.  [OpenSecrets]

If we look at the Leadership PACs which donated $10,000 to Senator Heller’s endeavors we find the Alamo PAC (Cornyn TX), Bluegrass Committee (McConnell KY), CPAT PAC (Toomey PA), Common Values PAC (Barrasso WY), Country First (McCain AZ), Louisiana Reform PAC (Vitter PAC), Majority Committee PAC (K.McCarthy CA), Making Business Excel PAC (Enzi, WY), Next Century Fund (Burr NC), Freedom Fund (Crapo ID), Freedom Project (J. Boehner OH), Fund for a Conservative Future (Inhofe OK), Heartland Values PAC (Thune SD), Orrin PAC (Hatch UT), Promoting Our Republican Team (Portman, OH), Prosperity PAC (affiliation unclear), Rely On Your Beliefs (Blunt MO), Republican Majority Fund (Chambliss GA), Rock City PAC (Corker TN), Senate Majority Fund (Kyl AZ), Senate Victory Fund (Cochran MS), TAC PAC (Coburn OK), Tallatchee Creek PAC (Sessions AL), and Tenn PAC (Alexander TN).

The shape of the funding becomes a bit more clean when we drill down to see who donated to the Leadership PACs which in turn donated to Senator Heller.  For example, the American Bankers Association has been quite generous to several of the Leadership PACs supporting Senator Heller’s campaign:

While the American Bankers Association doesn’t appear on the list of Senator Heller’s Top Twenty donors, this obviously doesn’t mean that some of the funds contributed to the Leadership PACs listed in the graphic above didn’t find a way into Senator Heller’s campaign chest.

Goldman Sachs has contributed $19,000 to Senator Heller’s election efforts as of September 3, 2012.  However, as in the case of the American Bankers Association donations, Goldman Sachs money also helped fill the campaign chests of Leadership PACs which, in turn,  donated to Senator Heller’s campaign.

Thus, corporations can multiply their monetary influence by contributing to the candidates, such as Senator Heller, and by donating to the Leadership PACs upon whom newly appointed Senators, such as Senator Heller, depend.

Other corporate interests are well represented in the revenue columns of GOP Leadership PACs which have donated to Senator Heller:

Altria Group (tobacco, tobacco products), BlueCross/Blue Shield (health insurance), Abbott Laboratories (Pharmaceuticals), Koch Industries (conglomerate), Pfizer (Pharmaceuticals), and Honeywell International (aerospace, military, consumer products).

So, Senator Heller “gets by with a little help from his friends,” some of whom have deep pockets indeed.

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Filed under 2012 election, Heller, Nevada politics