Corporate Spending That’s Been Disclosed Flows Largely to GOP in 2010

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Friday, October 29, 2010 at 3:21 pm

How much money is flowing from corporate treasuries into this year’s midterm elections? The answer, as numerous commentators have pointed out, will likely never be known for sure, as many of the political groups assumed to be receiving the most corporate money are registered under sections of the tax code — like 501(c)(4) (Crossroads GPS) and 501(c)(6) (the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) — that allow them not to disclose their donors. That said, government watchdog groups like Public Citizen are doing their best to tabulate all the examples of corporate contributions to sources that do disclose their donors and paint an incomplete, yet still telling, snapshot of where it’s coming from and who it’s going to.

All in all, the group has identified about 200 corporate contributors giving donations to 29 independent political groups that disclose their donors, and while the amount of money we’re talking about is a small compared to the total spending this election cycle, it indicates that such spending is favoring Republican candidates by a wide margin:

“The decision to invest corporate funds in an election is almost always solely that of the company CEO,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, in the press release. “In publicly held companies, the CEO is under no obligation to get the consent of, or even inform, shareholders of how she or he is spending their money on politics. This is a new Wild West of unlimited and undisclosed corporate spending in our elections.”

One of the goals of Public Citizen — along with other campaign finance reform groups — that has thus far gotten less attention than the DISCLOSE Act is a bill called the Shareholder Protection Act, which would mandate that shareholders of publicly traded companies be consulted in decisions pertaining to corporate political spending. Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) sponsored the bill in March following the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, and it was reported out of the Committee on Financial Services in late September. Since then, however, it’s sat on the House calendar with no attempt by House Leadership to bring it to the floor for a vote.

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