The Lonely Centrist

A place for reasoned debate about the issues of the day.

See my complete profile

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Repeat After Me: Corporations Do Not Make Campaign Contributions

No matter how many times you say it, the press always gets it wrong: so repeat after me:

"Corporations are prohibited by law from making campaign contributions. Corporations are prohibited by law from making campaign contributions. Corporations are ..."

What brings this constanly repeated error to mind today is the MSNBC obituary of Enron founder Ken Lay, which claims, "For many years, his corporation was the single biggest contributor to President Bush." In fact, of course, Enron's PAC - which consists of voluntary contributions made by Enron managers, shareholders, and their families, no corporate money - may have contributed up to the legal limits of $5000 per election to Bush, and Enron may have contributed to the Republican Party in the days when those contributions were legal (they are no longer legal, since 2002), but Enron never contributed to the campaign of President Bush or any other Federal campaign. Rather, people who worked for Enron made contributions to President Bush.

This matters, because it gives the wrong impression to the listening/reading public. Almost everybody works somewhere. If you gave $100 to a candidate, would you consider that a contribution by your employer? Most people would not. Doing so allows "reformers" to dramatically increase the "influence" of corporations, and misrepresent the entire system, as it makes most every contribution, by any person, into a "special interest" corporate contribution .

Speaking more frankly, it is a blatant misrepresentation, perpetuated by the reform organizations such as the Center for Responsive Politics - check out this web page (All of the corporations and unions listed are prohibited by law from contributing to candidates or national political parties since 2002, and were prohibited from contributing to candidates prior to 2002.) Doubting Thomases can see this link (check page 72 of the document, 2 U.S.C. Section 441b).

  • The Skeptic
  • Andrew Sullivan
  • Michael Barone
  • The New Republic
  • National Review
  • Democracy Project
  • Bob Bauer
  • Center for Competitive Politics
  • Ryan Sager
  • Going to the Matt
  • Professor Bainbridge
  • Volokh Conspiracy
  • Mystery Pollster
  • Amitai Etzioni
  • Alexander Chrenkoff
  • Middle East Media Research Institute
  • Right Democrat
  • Democrats for Life