During the debate over the Supreme Court ruling giving free-speech status to corporations, a big supposed fear of the impending law was that huge corporations, with unlimited financial means at their disposal, would be able to exert unfair influence over the outcome of elections.
Now that we have been living with this new law for a while now, I see rich individuals taking advantage of it but few, if any, actual corporations having done so. At least they haven’t raised any public profile if they have. Why is this? Was this “fear” of a ‘corporate takeover’ of our policital system just misplaced? Or is there a more reasonable explanation for the way that this new law has been taking form in our political world? Or am I just missing something?
It may well be that publicly-held corporations have more skin in the game and don’t want to risk sales by alienating consumers with a political bias. Individually wealthy individuals are another matter. From what I’ve gathered, some of them are apparently making their financial weight felt by donations made through privately-held corporations.
Target caught a backlashwhen they opted to publicly support a Republican candidate for Governor of Minnesota. Allstate, Boeing and Caterpillar, among others, are facing shareholder challenges over camapign contributions.
Cynically speaking, it’s probably a better idea for coporations to just dump their money into trade associations and let THEM support individual candidates. That gives the corporations a layer of plausible denial about who they’re supporting.
American Crossroads, run by Karl Rove, must disclose its donors. Crossroads GPS is Rove’s 501c(4) that does not have to disclose. The latter if forbidden from advocating or opposing any candidate, but that rule is weakly enforced: That would include ads like one attacking Democratic Virginia Senate candidate Tim Kaine for being “Obama’s partisan cheerleader,” or one savaging Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who at the time was running for reelection, for having “sold out to Obama,” or one attacking progressive Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren for, of all things, siding with big banks.
The Federal Election Commission’s hair-splitting rules allow Crossroads GPS to make the argument that these sorts of ads aren’t exactly the same as campaign ads. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/07/crossroads-gps-karl-rove_n_1477833.html
For the moment, corporations prefer to donate in secret. So they do. There have been some attempts to pass full disclosure laws in congress, but they have died due to Republican opposition.