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Since John McCain claims to be a robust reformer of big money politics, and since Barack Obama flatly refuses to accept PAC money, the fat cat corporate givers who have ruled presidential politics for years must be shut out this time, right?
Uh… hardly. For example, check out the forthcoming Republican and Democratic conventions. A convenient loophole in campaign finance law allows unlimited sums of special interest money to be drawn directly from corporate coffers and handed to the “host committees” for this summer’s political hoo-rahs in Denver and St. Paul. In turn, the top executives and lobbyists for corporations that give will get special access to the candidates, lawmakers, and other key officials during the weeklong schmoozfests.
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This is not a cheap ticket. Both host committees “suggest” that sponsors donate in the $1-5 million range, with the most intimate access going to those who give the most. But the face-time that these favor-seekers get is priceless.
That’s why more than a hundred brand-name corporations – from AFLAC to Xerox– have already signed up, including 25 swingers that are sponsoring both conventions. More than $100 million has been contributed. Drug companies, telecom giants, auto makers, Wall Street bankers, airlines, and others with business pending in Washington are front and center, eager to show the next president and congressional leaders that they’re “on the team.”
It’s offensive enough that these monied interests can slap their logos all over our political process, but offense turns to disgust when you realize that the corporations are allowed to deduct these favor-buying dollars from their income taxes, meaning you and I subsidize this corrupt system.
To keep track of the corporations involved, check with the Campaign Finance Institute: www.cfinst.org.
“Donors to Party Conventions Have Spent Over $800 Million on Federal Campaign Contributions and Lobbying Since 2005,” www.cfinst.org, June 18, 2008.
“Conventions Rake In Big Corporate Money,” www.abcnews.go.com, June 18, 2008.