February 16, 2010

Stopping the "Corporate Takeover" of Politics, One Corporate-Funded Gala at a Time

From the NYT:
When the Congressional Black Caucus wanted to pay off the mortgage on its foundation’s stately 1930s redbrick headquarters on Embassy Row, it turned to a familiar roster of friends: corporate backers like Wal-Mart, AT&T, General Motors, Coca-Cola and Altria, the nation’s largest tobacco company. ...

Most political groups in Washington would have been barred by law from accepting that kind of direct aid from corporations. But by taking advantage of political finance laws, the caucus has built a fund-raising juggernaut unlike anything else in town. ...

From 2004 to 2008, the Congressional Black Caucus’s political and charitable wings took in at least $55 million in corporate and union contributions, according to an analysis by The New York Times, an impressive amount even by the standards of a Washington awash in cash. Only $1 million of that went to the caucus’s political action committee; the rest poured into the largely unregulated nonprofit network.
But don't worry. It's all for the kids... oh, wait.
The caucus says its nonprofit groups are intended to help disadvantaged African-Americans by providing scholarships and internships to students, researching policy and holding seminars on topics like healthy living.

But the bulk of the money has been spent on elaborate conventions that have become a high point of the Washington social season, as well as the headquarters building, golf outings by members of Congress and an annual visit to a Mississippi casino resort.

In 2008, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation spent more on the caterer for its signature legislative dinner and conference — nearly $700,000 for an event one organizer called “Hollywood on the Potomac” — than it gave out in scholarships, federal tax records show.
The story is long but worth the read. Keep it in mind next time you see Democrats screeching about corporate influence in politics.

Link and headline from Reason's Hit & Run blog.

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