US businesses back Tea Party Republicans after shutdown

Nov 24 2013, 10:59 IST
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They also gave $246,190 to Democrats and Republicans who voted for the deal (Reuters) They also gave $246,190 to Democrats and Republicans who voted for the deal (Reuters)
SummaryEight of most active business PACs wrote checks totaling $84,750 to 56 Republicans in Senate

Business groups waged a fierce lobbying campaign last month to convince Republicans to re-open the government and raise the debt ceiling, but many of the most influential U.S. corporations have not cut off support to lawmakers who did not heed their appeal.

Eight of the most active business PACs wrote checks totaling $84,750 to 56 Republicans in the Senate and the House of Representatives after they voted against an Oct. 16 deal to re-open the government that had been shut down since Oct. 1 and avert an imminent debt default, according to a Reuters analysis.

They also gave $246,190 to Democrats and Republicans who voted for the deal.

Political action committees of companies like Honeywell Inc and Northrop Grumman contributed to Republican lawmakers who defied the wishes of the business community during last month's government shutdown, according to disclosure documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Along with Honeywell Inc and Northrop Grumman , Reuters analyzed PACs at AT&T, General Electric , Deloitte & Touche LLP, New York Life Insurance Co, United Parcel Service Inc and the American Bankers Association.

Corporations are forbidden from contributing directly to federal candidates under U.S. law, but they can set up political action committees, so-called "PACs," to direct contributions from employees and other individual donors to candidates supportive of the company's interests as determined by a board that oversees the giving. Such boards typically are composed of company executives and government-relations staff. PACs can donate up to $5,000 per election to any candidate.

Last month's fight widened a split between Republican lawmakers associated with the grassroots Tea Party movement and the party's more pragmatic business allies.

Some business groups are now mulling an effort to push the most uncompromising Tea Partiers out of office in next year's congressional elections.

But many of the PACs of the biggest corporate players appear reluctant to punish lawmakers who, if they had prevailed in the Oct. 16 vote, could have pushed the United States into default. Many of those lawmakers are in a position to push regulations or new laws that could affect their operations.

"What you're seeing is the natural tension between the interests of a publicly held company to its shareholders ... and the desire of the people that may be running that company to want some kind of fundamental change in the way we do politics," said Steve Bell, a former Republican staffer now with the Bipartisan Policy Center.

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