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Dem Predictions Overstate Corporate Donations To GOP

Do corporate donors heavily favor Republicans?

“Our country is for sale,” as Politics USA puts it, to “Republicans, like Mitch McConnell, willing to raffle off their states—and its citizens—to the highest corporate bidder.”

“All Republicans have to do in exchange for their largesse,” the article asserts, “is promise corporations that they will make money in their state.”

The motivation for this assessment is the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, a nonprofit organization that “has reported more than $7.1 million to the FEC for expenditures that ‘expressly advocate’ for election of McConnell or defeat of Grimes,” the Republican and Democratic candidates, respectively, in the Kentucky Senate race. (RELATED: Hollywood Maxes Out on Donations to Grimes’ Senate Campaign)

Liberals are also concerned about the influence of corporate contributions in lesser-known campaigns, with Salon fretting about “their influence on the Supreme Court of a small state like Montana,” in an article on Monday.

In that race, Salon says, the Republican challenger “has wealthy corporate backers who have figured out that for a pittance—less than a million bucks—they can install a friendly justice to preside over cases in which they have an interest.”

The incumbent Democrat, in contrast, has received “a few hundred grand of their own,” from a liberal group composed mostly of trial lawyers. (RELATED: Illinois Union Endorses Democrat But Gives Money to Libertarian)

However, corporate contributions are hardly the exclusive domain of Republicans. The Senate Majority PAC, a political action committee dedicated to holding the Senate for Democrats, “is responsible for roughly one out of every 20 Senate race ads,” according to Time.

Among the Senate Majority PAC’s donors is Sealaska Corp., “a southeast-Alaska based corporation created by a federal act and owned by thousands of native shareholders.”

According to Time, “Sealaska’s board wanted to support the re-election bid of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), the current chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, because Landrieu has supported the land legislation that is Sealaska’s top priority.”

All told, the Center for Responsive Politics projects that “GOP and conservative-leaning candidates, party committees, and outside groups will spend at least $1.92 billion, compared to at least $1.76 billion their rivals on the Democratic and liberal-leaning side will spend.” (RELATED: Largest Corporate Donors Favor Dems This Election Cycle)

That represents a roughly 52-48 edge for Republicans, which is not exactly the “huge spending advantage” that Democrats predicted would accrue to Republicans after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, David Brooks claimed in a recent New York Times column.

Brooks pointed out that Democrats held the fundraising advantage as recently as September, when “the 15 top Democratic-aligned committees outraised the 15 top Republican ones by $164 million,” but also noted that, “A major wave of Republican money is expected” in the run-up to the election.

Corporations tend to support individual candidates who will advance their interests, not specific parties or ideologies.

Brooks argues that the influence of money is greatly exaggerated, at least when it comes to high-profile races, because “money is really not important when both candidates are well-financed,” and “every plausible Senate candidate and almost every plausible House candidate has more than enough money to get his or her message out.”

In fact, he says, corporate political spending in this election cycle merely shows that, “Some people who are really smart at making money are apparently really stupid at spending it.”

Follow Peter Fricke on Twitter

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