Obama campaign funds: "Technically correct" but, a "distinction without a difference" (update) Posted by: McQ
on Tuesday, April 01, 2008
As with most bloggers it pleases me when I get ahead of the MSM on a story. Apparently the extended Democratic primary and the many 'gotchyas' it has produced has reporters pouring over political claims that the two Dem candidates have made over the years.
"I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists - and won. They have not funded my campaign, they will not get a job in my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president."
But backpatting done, let's not get in the way of this most recent MSM "discovery" based on a new ad (which essentially repeats the quote above) running in PA. What spurred the look, I guess, was that it specifically targeted oil companies:
"Since the gas lines of the ’70s, Democrats and Republicans have talked about energy independence, but nothing’s changed — except now Exxon’s making $40 billion a year, and we’re paying $3.50 for gas.
I’m Barack Obama. I don’t take money from oil companies or Washington lobbyists, and I won’t let them block change anymore. They’ll pay a penalty on windfall profits. We’ll invest in alternative energy, create jobs and free ourselves from foreign oil. I approve this message because it’s time that Washington worked for you. Not them."
But Jake Tapper points out that FactCheck.org has a little different point of view on this:
In a new ad, Obama says, "I don’t take money from oil companies."
Technically, that's true, since a law that has been on the books for more than a century prohibits corporations from giving money directly to any federal candidate. But that doesn’t distinguish Obama from his rivals in the race.
We find the statement misleading:
* Obama has accepted more than $213,000 from individuals who work for companies in the oil and gas industry and their spouses.
* Two of Obama's bundlers are top executives at oil companies and are listed on his Web site as raising between $50,000 and $100,000 for the presidential hopeful.
Additionally what Obama never really points out about PAC contributions is, in the big scheme of things, they're fairly insignificant as a source of revenue:
The Obama campaign points out that the senator doesn't take money from PACs or from lobbyists. Factcheck.org calls that a "distinction without very much of a practical difference. Political action committee funds are pooled contributions from a company's or an organization's individual employees or members; corporate lobbyists often have a big say as to where a PAC's donations go. But a PAC can give no more than $5,000 per candidate, per election. We're not sure how a $5,000 contribution from, say, Chevron's PAC would have more influence on a candidate than, for example, the $9,500 Obama has received from Chevron employees giving money individually."
And, as I pointed out in that February post, via OpenSecrets.org, oil isn't the only sector which has contributed to the Obama campaign:
In the financial sector, one and a quarter million dollars have found their way into the Obama campaign. The largest donor was Goldman Sacs at $375,978. JP Morgan Chase was second with $216,459 while Citigroup coughed up $181,787 and Morgan Stanley only produced $109,025 to finance Obama's campaign.
Time Warner led the big business contributors to the Obama campaign with $131,485, followed by GE at $47,450 and Microsoft at $44,250. Last time I looked, each of those were 'corporations'.
AT&T, you know, the communications corporation, kicked in $43,483 and among insurance corporations, Blue Cross/Blue Shield managed to send along $40,150 to the Obama campaign.
Other corporate contributors include Boeing, Walt Disney, Vivendi, UPS, Lockheed Martin, General Motors and American Airlines.
I even managed to find contributions from Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline to the tune of $23,350.
We've noted before that Obama's policy of not taking money from lobbyists is a bit of hair-splitting. It's true that he doesn't accept contributions from individuals who are registered to lobby the federal government. But he does take money from their spouses and from other individuals at firms where lobbyists work. And some of his bigger fundraisers were registered lobbyists until they signed on with the Obama campaign.
Even the campaign has acknowledged that this policy is flawed. "It isn’t a perfect solution to the problem and it isn’t even a perfect symbol," Obama spokesman Bill Burton has said.
But the acknowledged false message somehow continues getting recycled, doesn't it?
UPDATE: Obama's message is one which obviously implies contributions by lobbyists and PACs "drown out voices" through their contributions because they able to "block change", seemingly through the influence their contributions garner. Fair reading of Obama's assertions?
Then let's not forget something Marc Ambinder reminded us of in February as well:
According to independent expenditure notices filed with the Federal Election Commission, the Service Employees International Union plans to spend more than $700,000 over the next week to help Barack Obama in Texas and Ohio.
Additionally, the union's powerful local 1199, based in New York, will spend nearly $200,000 more to pay the salaries of SEIU members who will volunteer on Obama's behalf.
Local 1199's federal PAC is spending $75,000 to pay salaries and per diems of its members who're working for Obama in Texas. 1199 is sending $106,600 worth of employees to Ohio.
The SEIU's Committee on Political Education (COPE) filed notice yesterday that it would spent approximately $300,000 on door-to-door canvassing and $400,000 on direct mail in Ohio.
If his implication is that PACs and lobbyists expect to be rewarded for campaign contributions, what's the reward for this sort of non-contribution contribution? What voices will they attempt to drown out? What change will they want to block?
I’m Gonna Make A Change, For Once In My Life It’s Gonna Feel Real Good, Gonna Make A Difference Gonna Make It Right . . . I’m Starting With The Man In The Mirror I’m Asking Him To Change His Ways And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place Take A Look At Yourself, And Then Make A Change
I wonder why Obama doesn’t use Jackson’s song for his campaign ?
Great. Go after the "Windfall profits" and there goes my 401k and my Roth IRA since both of them have quite a bit invested in energy.
Not to mention, you will pay higher gas prices, as oil companies’ costs are increased. Just rhetoric for the masses that are impressed by big numbers, like $40B, but don’t understand what a profit margin is or how to read financial statements. People who can’t balance their own checkbook think Exxon should pay higher taxes. Unfortunately, that’s a lot of Americans.
"But what was lacking among march organizers was a positive agenda, a coherent agenda for change. Without this agenda a lot of this energy is going to dissipate. Just as holding hands and singing ’We shall overcome’ is not going to do it, exhorting youth to have pride in their race, give up drugs and crime, is not going to do it if we can’t find jobs and futures for the 50 percent of black youth who are unemployed, underemployed, and full of bitterness and rage.
"Exhortations are not enough, nor are the notions that we can create a black economy within America that is hermetically sealed from the rest of the economy and seriously tackle the major issues confronting us," Obama said.
"Any solution to our unemployment catastrophe must arise from us working creatively within a multicultural, interdependent, and international economy. Any African-Americans who are only talking about racism as a barrier to our success are seriously misled if they don’t also come to grips with the larger economic forces that are creating economic insecurity for all workers—whites, Latinos, and Asians.
When you read this, you get the feeling Obama understands pretty well the bigger picture, but it also makes his continued membership with Trinity UCC look disengenuious if not exercise in pure hucksterism.
When you take the FoxNews story about Rev. Wright’s $1.6 million home in a "gated community" outside of Chicago, and add it to the real elephant in the room, that some ministers treat their congregants as idiots or less demanding that they not hear any coins in the basket etc., and you begins to wonder if both Obama and his "spiritual leader" knew better but put on a good show for their marks.