FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Using Shadowy “527 Groups,” Corporations Give Unlimited Dollars Directly to Members of Congress

by Counterpunch Wire Report

Using Shadowy “527 Groups,” Corporations Give Unlimited Dollars Directly to Members of Congress Groups Allow Companies to Influence Legislation, Underscore Need for Reform

CounterPunch Wire Report

Corporations are using shadowy and little-noticed groups to put millions of dollars into the hands of lawmakers – a practice otherwise prohibited by federal campaign law – while seeking legislative favors, Public Citizen has found.

Public Citizen’s analysis of recent telecommunications, tobacco and money-laundering legislation shows that these groups, known as “527 groups,” enable corporations to gain access to lawmakers and shape legislation.

The 527 groups, products of an exemption carved in Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, enable lawmakers to directly amass huge quantities of “soft money” – unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations and unions. (Other soft money is given through political parties.) With the 527 soft money, politicians sponsor events that further their own careers, give money to state and local candidates, and pay for “get-out-the-vote” efforts.

A Public Citizen investigation of 25 leading “politician 527 groups” (non-politician groups will be the subject of a forthcoming report) found that it is difficult and sometimes impossible to learn which politicians have 527s, who contributes to them and what the groups spend money on. Although these politician 527s would be banned under pending campaign finance reform legislation, the defective disclosure apparatus will continue to hinder the tracking of soft money to the 527 groups set up by non-politicians, such as the Sierra Club and Republicans for Clean Air, that want to influence elections.

“The politician 527 groups are a nefarious mechanism for legalized bribery,” said Joan Claybrook, Public Citizen president. “They allow corporations to put unlimited amounts of money directly into the pockets of members of Congress. This corporate investment is for one purpose only: to shape the laws that Congress votes on and ultimately approves. They have corrupted our legislative process.”

Among Public Citizen’s findings, entitled Congressional Leaders’ Soft Money Accounts Show Need for Campaign Finance Reform Bills:

Virtually every congressional leader has his or her own 527. At least 61 members of Congress have their own groups, including 19 who created new ones in the past year.

In the one-year period from July 1, 2000 to June 30, 2001, the top 25 politician 527s collected more than $15.1 million. This suggests that these top groups would collect approximately $30 million in a two-year election cycle. (More recent reports for all 25 groups are not available although they were due to the IRS on Jan. 31, 2002.)

The majority of contributions to the top 25 groups from July 1, 2000, to June 30, 2001 came from 27 major industries (including individuals, such as executives, associated with these major industries) that gave at least $100,000.

The top six congressional leader 527s collected 81 percent of their contributions from corporations between July 1, 2000, and June 30, 2001.

The 527 politician groups remain shadowy due to flaws in the disclosure law and the Internal Revenue Service’s Web-based disclosure system. And 527s often appear to skirt the law by ignoring disclosure requirements and providing vague and misleading information.

In new policy investigations, Public Citizen found that:

Regional Bell telephone companies promoting deregulation of high-speed Internet service poured $277,666 into the 527s of House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and Chief Deputy Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) while their favored Tauzin-Dingell bill was considered in 2001. Republican leaders simultaneously maneuvered to advance the bill despite opposition among the House GOP rank and file. (A vote is scheduled Feb. 27.)

The 527 groups of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Martin Frost (D-Texas) received $40,000 and $50,000 respectively from the Stanford Financial Group between July 1, 2000, and June 30, 2001. During this period, Stanford was fighting anti-money laundering legislation supported by the Clinton administration. Stanford gained access to the Texas Democratic delegation through Frost, and neither Democratic leader protested when key congressional Republicans sank the bill.

“Internet access, money-laundering, tobacco legislation – these are among the issues corporations tried to influence through 527s,” said Frank Clemente, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. “These 527 groups are just one more reason that the Senate and President Bush must approve the pending campaign finance reform measure.”

Click here for a copy of Public Citizen’s report.

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
Joseph Natoli
The Politics of Crazy and Stupid
Sher Ali Khan
Empirocracy
Nauman Sadiq
A House Divided: Turkey’s Failed Coup Plot
Franklin Lamb
A Roadmap for Lebanon to Grant Civil Rights for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Colin Todhunter
Power and the Bomb: Conducting International Relations with the Threat of Mass Murder
Michael Barker
UK Labour’s Rightwing Select Corporate Lobbyist to Oppose Jeremy Corbyn
Graham Peebles
Brexit, Trump and Lots of Anger
Anhvinh Doanvo
Civilian Deaths, Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Drones
Christopher Brauchli
Kansas and the Phantom Voters
Peter Lee
Gavin Long’s Manifesto and the Politics of “Terrorism”
Missy Comley Beattie
An Alarmingly Ignorant Fuck
Robert Koehler
Volatile America
Adam Vogal
Why Black Lives Matter To Me
Raouf Halaby
It Is Not Plagiarism, Y’all
Rev. Jeff Hood
Deliver Us From Babel
Frances Madeson
Juvenile Life Without Parole, Captured in ‘Natural Life’
Charles R. Larson
Review: Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail