I get confused sometimes about whether these guys are our hardworking Galtian overlord geniuses or the regular folks from my local Chamber:
Prudential Financial sent in a $2 million donation last year as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce kicked off a national advertising campaign to weaken the historic rewrite of the nation’s financial regulations.
Dow Chemical delivered $1.7 million to the chamber last year as the group took a leading role in aggressively fighting proposed rules that would impose tighter security requirements on chemical facilities.
And Goldman Sachs, Chevron Texaco, and Aegon, a multinational insurance company based in the Netherlands, donated more than $8 million in recent years to a chamber foundation that has been critical of growing federal regulation and spending. These large donations — none of which were publicly disclosed by the chamber, a tax-exempt group that keeps its donors secret, as it is allowed by law — offer a glimpse of the chamber’s money-raising efforts, which it has ramped up recently in an orchestrated campaign to become one of the most well-financed critics of the Obama administration and an influential player in this fall’s Congressional elections.
I know I hit the fuck-all-the-big-papers button as hard as anyone sometimes, but when we think about a world without the New York Times, we need to think about a world where all this shit stays secret. I don’t know how these Times reporters found this stuff out, but I do know that no one at Politico ever would have written this story.
Yep, I just saw that headline and huzzahed. Would’ve done a cartwheel if I weren’t 115 years old.
Ya done good this time, Old Gray Lady.
Click by click, it ratchets up. Blatant, if not obvious, to all who choose to look.
So what’chu gonna do ’bout it, Willis?
All journalists must know how to read a 10-K, navigate the FEC website, and file a FOIA request. With that toolkit, you can conquer the world.
We’re going to get what we deserve.
That shit’s going to suck.
Sorry, a bit off topic, but this is infuriating: Google’s tax rate is 2.4% Yes, two-point-four fucking percent. I’m all for letting the Bush tax cuts expire, but this corporate loop hole is also something that needs to be dealt with.
10-4 on that. ‘Old Feeble Arthritic Grey Lady’ is right, but I intend to subscribe come the first of next year, for the very reason you’ve cited. I can always cancel- as I certainly would have in the run up to the Big Lie War.
@burnspbesq: Finding the info ain’t rocket surgery, the problem is getting people to pay attention to it. Sadly, people pay more attention when the Times says something that some guy with a blog (no disrespect to AJP).
also too, the WaPo today endorsed my half-assed Democratic Congressman over the generic local millionaire teabot running against him. Zippety doo da, zippety ay!
One wonders what the reaction would be if a shareholder of one of these companies were to sue for breach of fiduciary duty, alleging that management wasted millions of dollars that could otherwise be put to productive use by spending it this way.
Seriously, where the hell did we think this would go – transnational, anonymous corporations spending unlimited amounts of money in our elections? What could go wrong?
@Arclite: Loop hole == law. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.
The best way to fix the double Irish is to say that when you valuate the xfer offshore you allow anybody else to buy for that price. No need to even change the tax law.
I see your point, Doug, but the truth is: you, me and everyone else here knew everything in that story already, NYT just filled in the names and precise dollar amounts. Until the pixels or ink spilled publishing the story actually has an impact beyond this comment thread, in a sense we already live in a world without the New York Times.
Busting out some good journalism because it’s a full moon, and getting us all excited for exposing this big secret is just a fucking tease.
In January, the chamber’s president, Thomas J. Donohue, a former trucking lobbyist, announced that his group intended “to carry out the largest, most aggressive voter education and issue advocacy effort in our nearly 100-year history.”
Buddy, I don’t think it counts as a voter education effort unless voters actually end up being educated.
Should the Dems retain control of congress, one benefit will be knowing that these selfish, spoiled, idiotic, greedy, chunks of concentrated anus will have poured millions upon millions of dollars in defeating them, all for nothing. Oh, the wailing and the gnashing of teeth.
Isn’t the next line in the song used for the title, “[we]’re gonna get what [we] deserve?”
I thought that tonight when I saw three back to back anti-Patty ads (Rossi, RSCC, Rove).
OT – Paging resident front-pager Dennis G. aka Dengre
Alex Gibney’s documentary Casino Jack and the United States of Money is now available on Netflix: Watch Instantly.
DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice.
True enough. But nailing it down is something you, me, and everyone else here could not have done. That’s what journalism is for, IMHO.
The First Amendment protects the right of the people “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” I am almost positive multi-million dollar lobbying campaigns are exactly what the Founders had in mind.
JHC, people, the NYT is running a front page article exposing the puppet masters behind the Teapublican smear campaign
eleven days before the election!
This is, like, GOOD news.
Fer fucks sake, run with it and stop whining.
@Mr. Furious: A better song (at least if you like early 70s badfinger flavoured rock) with the same idea.
I consider the linked to be the greatest rock band of most times.
But not all of us deserve what we are going to get.
@Spaghetti Lee: Hardly for nothing. They’ve got the Dems spooked badly—and I think that was actually the strategy all along. Really, our corporate overlords don’t actually want the Goopers to win this cycle—certainly not with the clowns the Goopers are running—they just want the Dems severely damaged so that they are in a defensive posture for the next two years. The Dems would have to lose fewer than 20 seats in the House for us not to see a severe tack to the right after the election no matter what happens.
Would that be possible to do? To bring that kind of a lawsuit?
1: Washington Democrats are “spooked badly” by, among other things, butterflies, sudden gusts of wind, static cling, and their own shadows.
2: Your general thesis might be correct, but the difference between a Dem minority and majority is a pretty big tipping point in terms of rightward shift.
3: The whole thing sounds a little bit conspiracy-y to me. I could just as easily argue that they’re secretly letting Dems win, to further blame the economy on them, and going all out in 2012 to take back congress and the white house at the same time. Also, the “clowns” are either marching with the big boys already, or can easily be molded into doing so. It is a persistent myth that Teabaggers are anything resembling different than conservative Republicans.
You want to know how they found this stuff out? good old fashioned, roll up your shirt sleeves and get your punk ass to the courthouse, or the county tax office, or where ever the records might be and dig through them reporting. Research. It’s what reporters used to be taught to do.
It’s not glamorous, but notice there’s no he said, she said in the article? the reporters got the goods and laid it all out.
and @eemon is right. This is great news. The NYtimes has been publishing something on this story every single day. It just might be enough to change some minds.
@Violet: I think so, yes.
I imagine we’ll see some shareholder groups try. I saw a hilarious ad by Chevron tonight that basically said, “sure, we make kazillions of dollars but we invest that back into all of your communities, creating jobs. Every penny!!”
I thought, yeah, except for the millions you sent to the US Chamber you fucking douche bags.
I can see Goldman Sachs as my creepy uncle.
@Spaghetti Lee: I agree completely that the Dems winning is a far better alternative than the Dems losing. Good grief. All I’m saying is that these companies haven’t wasted their money by spending as they have because all they need for a large net positive outcome from their perspective is having the brakes put on progressive reform. They can do that without a Gooper victory and given the crazy element among the Goopers running, who also pose a threat to corporate overlords if they can’t be controlled, the best outcome for the corporate interests would be a narrow win by the Dems. That’s quite different than saying they can mandate that result.
I don’t think my account is really a conspiracy because I don’t think the corporate interests have sufficient control (or could ever have sufficient control) of the situation to be able to dictate where and how things are going to fall. They have the money to shape the large story and they own the media, which ensures that the story they want gets out, but beyond that things play out on the somewhat irrational ground of the American electorate.
I agree this story is a good thing (when you think about it, this was a big day for media redemption), but I’m lamenting the fact that no matter how it’s laid out, and what the timing is the impact is this:
a.) “They’ve done this all along, right?”
b.) “They all do this shit.”
c.) “Whatever. I still support MY Congressman.”
Republicans in office:
a.) No fucking shame or guilt about this whatsoever.
b.) “How many slots are open in prime time, and how much do we have in the account?”
c.) “Fix this? Once we regain control, this shit is gonna look quaint.”
Democrats in office:
b.) “Thank you, Speaker Boehner, may I have another?”
c.) “Leave it alone, we might get a tiny fraction of that money one day.”
Davis X. Machina
You just stand on their
air hosemoney supply, and wait a minute.
I would like to see the teahadi movement try to keep going on the strength of the proceeds from bake sales and dunk tanks with George Soros impersonators.
Well, the difference is that I think the crazies can easily be controlled. Rand Paul and Joe Miller are already corporate fetishists, and Sharron Angle has no brain. They could easily be hammered into place. Ergo, the money boys don’t need to worry about some wild, free-spirited teabagger Real Murkin getting in their way, and it would be in their interests for Repubs to take congress.
I do agree that a “narrow Dem victory” would open the door for a whole lotta bullshit, including cries of voter fraud and suppression, and a general attitude of “We almost got you, and in two years we’ll finish the job.” However, the Dems would still hold the house, NANCY SMASH would still have the gavel (barring any blue-dog backstabbing), and the committees would still be run by Democrats. I’m sure the big guys would much prefer Speaker Boehner, Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, and Energy Chairman Joe Barton giving them a blank check.
@Davis X. Machina: If crazy gets elected in sufficient numbers they have the power to do some really strange and dumb things, and that risks corporate interests and so severely dividing the GOP caucus. The crazy would certainly be taken out by the next election, but the manner in which it would have to be eliminated would also prove, I think, very painful to the corporate interests.
I know how I would defend against it (the argument would be that while the return on an investment in buying Congress is difficult to quantify, it is surely significant, and the reasonable prospect of that return gets management within the business judgment rule), but heck yeah you could bring it.
You don’t need a case to file a lawsuit. All you need is a word processor and a check for the filing fee. Wouldn’t be the first time that a suit with little chance of succeeding has been filed just to make a point.
Here’s something that jumped out at me, from the end of the article. It takes some serious balls to say this, when you’re one of the very people who brought all the, well, what he says:
@Violet: If a company is spending money to lobby for legislation that would aid its profitability – like a bank trying to weaken the financial reform law – I don’t think there’s any chance that a shareholder lawsuit would succeed. The business judgment rule gives a corporation a lot of leeway to spend money on something like that.
Where it gets more interesting is when corporations spend money not on issues, but on candidates. If a corporation spent millions of dollars trying to elect John McCain, I think a shareholder lawsuit would have some chance of success, even if the argument is “we think McCain would be better for business.”
The grey area is donations to outfits like the U.S. Chamber, because they spend money both on lobbying and on electing specific candidates (mostly GOP). I don’t know if donations to the Chamber can be earmarked for a specific purpose, because it seems like they commingle their funds from what we’ve been hearing. So the shareholder lawsuit would be like “you claim you gave money to the Chamber to weaken the financial regulations, but they went and spent most of it on partisan political activities to elect Republicans.”
A lot of the major stockholders in this country are public pension funds, some of which have activist management of a political bent. So you could very well start seeing shareholder cases of this type in the post-Citizens United world. I doubt Democratic pension funds are going to sit around idly as companies they have a major stake in start spending millions of dollars to elect Republicans.
@Spaghetti Lee: A few crazies, and they can be controlled, a lot of crazies, not so much—and for the Goopers to take over they’ve set themselves up so that they’d be electing lots of crazies.
Personally, I think the Democratic losses are going to be much lighter than expected—in the neighborhood of 20-25 in the House, 3-4 in the Senate. But it will still be enough that the legislative agenda is likely to drift to the right.
Oooh…I’ve got a word processor…and a checkbook, albeit a limited one. Now I wonder if I’m a shareholder. I’m certain some of the badly performing funds in my retirement accounts have some of those companies in them. I don’t think that qualifies me as a shareholder, though, does it?
I have reached the point of believing that if Americans vote for these fools, than they damn well deserve them. If they want to keep on bending over with no grease, be my guest. If you can follow Snookums, American Idol and whatever other moronic shows are out there, then you can damn well spend some time educating yourself on your pols.
I think that they think they can control the crazy, but the elites always think they’re smart enough to control the crazy. At least until the crazy breaks down their door.
One of the benefits of 401(k) investments in mutual funds:
Well, Newt Gingrich was considered a game-changing radical at one point, I’m sure.
James E. Powell
I am pretty sure the suit would be a loser. There were a spate of such suits in the 60s-70s brought by shareholders against corporations involved in the Viet Nam War and other such objectionable conduct. If I recall from those many years ago, corporate laws were adjusted to give almost unfettered discretion to management.
I’m thinking this must still be the case because I haven’t heard of any class action suits against AIG, etc.
But, I could be wrong. It never was my field.
James E. Powell
Totally agree and then some.
For example, the Bush/Cheney war crimes were not only documented in several papers of record, Bush & Cheney were more or less bragging about it without apology.
Everyone who would object to the ruling class buying elections is already voting for Democrats, even though it doesn’t bring about the Progressive Rapture.
If you could reduce the explanation of what is going on to ten sentences, most Americans would stop listening or reading after the third sentence.
And whatever information is made public, the Villagers will say over and over that both parties do it and it will be ignored.
@burnspbesq: A shareholder derivative suit for political spending? Against a Delaware corporation?
Unless that plaintiff had something like 20% of the shareholders on board, that is not going anywhere. You know that. Even large shareholder insiders get easily squeezed out under the Delaware code. It is an ugly little state that has really cursed the rest of the country.
I approve of that musical reference.
I find this, and like, influence buying to be quite distressing.
When I bring this up to conservative family members, they counter that Dems are just annoyed that the worms have turned, since Goldman Sachs and others were quite helpful to Obama in 07-08 and even had influence in his inner circle when it really counted.
joe from Lowell
@Keith G: Tell them that the Obama campaign disclosed its donors. The Chamber is doing it in secret.
joe from Lowell
My strategy: find out if your local Chamber of Commerce belongs to the U.S. Chamber – many do not – and if they do, start complaining publicly about it. Let’s get some discussion of the US Chamber’s activities into the Local News section of the paper, where old people will read it.
The Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce, btw, quit the U.S. Chamber in 2004, after they endorsed McCain.
Their intention is to make it impossible for individual plaintiffs to get into a court, state or federal, if there’s a moneyed defendant on the other side.
I think of that as Justice Roberts’ legacy. Regular people will appear only as defendants in a criminal court. The civil system will be really efficient, and “pro-business”. They’ll simply bar the door to claims by ordinary people, who are just mucking up the works anyway.
@joe from Lowell:
I’m getting some grim satisfaction out of the fact that a lot of the commentary on Citizens ties the decision to Justice Roberts.
Nice legacy. Hopefully it will stick. He’s should own this disaster, personally and for all time.
indeed, just like Sandra Day O’Connor owns the blood-soaked legacy of Bush v. Gore.
Many, if not most, people are under the impression that all chambers of commerce are alike and are smaller versions of the US Chamber of Commerce. I think most state chambers are all as big biz focused as the US Chamber but city and town chambers vary widely and many are much more interested in businesses that are really are small businesses. I know from experience that small town chambers can spend a lot more time on prettying up the town and organizing festivals, etc to draw people. I have had to explain many times over the years to people especially recently that our small town chamber is a totally different animal than the US or state chamber.
We had a small business for almost 20 years in a small town and never thought the US Chamber cared about or did anything for small businesses. Once a US Chamber rep came to visit all the businesses in town and he seemed to be taken aback and shocked that he did not get an enthusiastic welcome from us.