March's Lowdown

March 2011, Volume 13, Number 3

Edited by Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer


Logo Lowdown from the 2010 elections. Part 1--donors on the record

Here's who is buying America's democracy

In 1986, Richard Kimball, a Democratic state legislator in Arizona, was running for a US Senate seat. In a televised debate, he did something that absolutely astonished his opponent and completely confounded his campaign consultants: He looked directly into the camera and spoke the truth about the money corruption of big-time American politics.

"Understand what we do to you," Kimball said to viewers. "We spend all of our time raising money, often from strangers we do not even know. Then we spend it in three specific ways: First we measure you, what it is you want to purchase in the political marketplace--just like Campbell's soup or Kellogg's cereal. Next, we hire some consultants who know how to tailor our image to fit what we sell. Lastly, we bombard you with the meaningless, issueless, emotional nonsense that is always the result. And whichever one of us does that best will win."

Unfortunately for Kimball he was not the best bamboozler on the ballot--he lost big to John McCain, who's presently in his 25th year as an Arizona senator. Ironically, McCain himself became a champion of campaign finance reform for a while. But he totally abandoned that pose about three years ago and has now wedged himself tightly into his senate seat with the very same kind of special interest campaign cash and vacuous politicking that Kimball had so rightly condemned.

The corporate money of 1986 was like a light drizzle compared to the torrential downpour in last year's congressional elections. And, sure enough, the 2010 campaigns (including McCain's ugly re-election bid) bombarded voters with a level of "meaningless, issueless, emotional nonsense" that even Kimball could not have imagined. Nor has this ridiculous, inherently corrupting campaign money system come anywhere near its full power--a tsunami of corporate cash is already rising for 2012.

Politicians are the sellers, but who--specifically--is buying America's democracy? We will devote this and one other issue of the Lowdown to answering this crucial question.

This month, drawing on donor reports that individuals and corporations must file with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), we're identifying many of the largest givers to last year's Republican victors in the House and Senate. With officials in Washington now pushing hard to strengthen the grip that big bankers and corporations have over consumers, workers, the environment, and others, the public has a right to follow the money, including--where possible--tracing the funds to recognizable brand names and logos.

In our second issue, we'll do the best we can to lift the veil on the massive amounts of secret cash that was funneled into the 2010 elections through corporate front groups. This "mystery money" is the diabolical product of the Supreme Court's edict last year that corporations are "persons" with a First Amendment right to spend unlimited and unreported sums of their shareholders' funds to pervert America's elections.

Both issues of the Logo Lowdown are largely based on the exhaustive, nationally recognized research of two excellent public interest groups: www.opensecrets.org and www.sunlightfoundation.com. In this month's report, we break the donors into industry groups, listing corporate interests that gave $100,000 or more, with at least 60 percent of their money going to support Republican candidates. We also list the top Democratic donors.

Jump to:


Food Products & Drink | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Weaver Popcorn $981,850 99%
Cargill, Inc
Diamond Crystal salt, Truvia, Peter's Chocolate, Wilbur Chocolate, Honeysuckle White Turkey, Shady Brook Farms Turkey, Sterling Silver Premium Meats, Rumba meats, Tender Choice Pork, Good Nature Pork.
$273,325 78%
Chiquita $184,150 98%
Herbalife International $179,530 66%
JBS Swift & Co.
Swift; American Reserve; Cedar River Farms; Showcase Foods; Steakhouse Classic; Packerland; Angus Select; Liberty Bell; Moyer; Clear River Farms; Pilgrim's Pride; Pierce Chicken; Wing Dings; Wing-Zings; Speed Grill; Country Pride; To-Ricos; Super-Chik'n; Honey Dipt; Gold Kist Farms; Big Value Chicken; La Herencia Natural Pork "designed to meet the needs of Hispanic consumers."
$177,050 67%
Flowers Foods
Nature's Own; Cobblestone Mill; Whitewheat; Sunbeam Bread; Bunny Bread; ButterKrust; Mi Casa
$176,440 99%
ConAgra Foods
Chef Boyardee; DAVID Seeds; Egg Beaters; Healthy Choice; Hebrew National; Hunt's; Kid Cuisine; Marie Callender's; Orville Redenbacher's; PAM; Reddi-wip; Slim Jim; Act II; Banquet; Banquet Brown 'N Serve; Blue Bonnet; Crunch 'n Munch; Fiddle Faddle; Gulden's; Jiffy Pop; La Choy; Libby's; Manwich; Parkay; Patio; Peter Pan; Poppycock popcorn; Ranch Style Beans; Rotel; Rosarita; Swiss Miss; Van Camp's; Wesson; Wolf Brand Chili
$163,710 73%
Grimmway Farms
Potatoes, carrots, onions under the Bunny-Luv brand.
$147,200 97%
Smithfield Foods
Paula Deen brands
$146,740 74%
Jackson Family Enterprises
Kendall Jackson
$129,500 83%
Chiquita Brands International
Chiquita, Fresh Express
$110,950 96%
Molson Coors Brewing
Coors; Blue Moon; Keystone Light; Carling; Cobra; Molson
$107,509 95%
HP Hood LLC
Simply Smart; Heluva Good Dips; Maggio cheese; Penn Maid Dairy; Hagen; Green's; Arrowhead; Brigham's Ice Cream
$103,200 100%
J.R. Simplot Co.
Avocados, potatoes, sweet potatoes, Simplot Classic, UpSides, Pancake Pods
$101,600 81%

Go back to the list of industries


Supermarkets | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Publix $731,410 73%
Kroger $212,803 83%
Schnucks Markets $134,250 99%
Meijer Inc. $103,150 97%


Restaurants | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Wendys/Arbys Group
Wendy's; Arby's
$253,003 75%
Assn. of KFC Franchisees
KFC
$181,000 79%
Pizza Hut Franchisees Assn. $179,500 92%
Yum! Brands
KFC; Taco Bell; Pizza Hut; A&W Restaurants; Long John Silver's; WingStreet
$150,540 68%
CKE Restaurants
Carl's Jr.; Hardee's; Green Burrito; Red Burrito
$110,500 97%
Burger King $98,591 70%

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Live Entertainment, Pro Sports, & Recreational | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Las Vegas Sands Corp. $377,582 94%
Blackstone Group
SeaWorld, Busch Gardens
$243,145 62%
Arizona Diamondbacks $217,900 100%
Houston Texans $165,600 94%
Herschend Family Entertainment
Adventure Aquarium, Camden, NJ; Classic Cable Car Sightseeing; Dollywood; Ride The Ducks (all over the country); Showboat Branson Belle; Silver Dollar City, Branson, Missouri; Stone Mountain Inn, Park, & Campground
$108,400 63%

Go back to the list of industries


Lodging and Tourism | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
TRT Holdings Inc.
Omni Hotels, Grand Ole Opry, Hee Haw, Gold's Gym
$5,033,380 99%
Interface Group
Hilton; La Quinta; Waldorf Astoria; Boca Raton Resort & Club; Trianon Palace Versailles
$139,300 84%

Go back to the list of industries


Household & Beauty Products | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Procter & Gamble
Aussie; Braun; Clairol; CoverGirl; Dolce & Gabbana; Dunhill Fragrances; Escada Fragrances; Gillette; Gucci Fragrances; HUGO BOSS Fragrances; Head & Shoulders; Herbal Essences; Ivory; Lacoste Fragrances; Natural Instincts; Nice 'n Easy; Olay; Old Spice; Pantene; Safeguard; Secret; Always; Crest; Eukanuba; Fixodent; Iams; Metamucil; Oral-B; PUR; Pepto-Bismol; Prilosec OTC; Pringles; Scope; Tampax; Vicks; Bounce; Bounty; Cascade; Charmin; Cheer; Comet; Dawn; Downy; Dreft Laundry; Duracell; Era; Febreze; Gain; Joy; Luvs; Mr. Clean; Pampers; Puffs; Swiffer; Tide
$346,673 62%
S.C. Johnson & Son
Glade; Air Wick; Oust; Drano; Fantastik; Scrubbing Bubbles; Nature's Source cleaning products; Raid; OFF!; Pledge; Windex; Ziploc; Shout; Saran Wrap
$136,650 61%
3M Co.
Nexcare; Scotchgard; Post-it; Scotch-Brite; Filtrete; Ace; Clarity; Futuro; O-Cel-O; ScotchBlue; Scotchlite; Thinsulate
$220,988 59%
CCA Industries
Plus White Teeth Whitening; Sudden Change Skin Care line; Nutra Nail; Bikini Zone; Lobe Wonder; Mega-T Dietary Supplements; Solar Sense sun care products; Parfume de Vanille; Hair Off; Wash-N-Curl; Scar Zone; IPR-3; Shave zone; PainBust-R
$144,228 99%
Koch Industries (household)
GEORGIA-PACIFIC: Angel Soft, Quilted Northern, Soft 'n Gentle, Dixie cups, GP Copy Paper, Spectrum Paper, Mardi Gras napkins, Vanity Fair, Zee napkins, Brawny, Sparkle. INVISTA: Lycra, Coolmax, other dry-wick fibers, Stainmaster Carpet.
$130,700 73%

Go back to the list of industries


The GOP's top dozen individual donors | permalink to this section
This egg carton of golden givers contains some of the richest people in our land. They are investing in politicians to advance their own corporate interests, of course, but many of them are also extremist laissez-faire ideologues who share the Koch brothers' vision of establishing an unbridled corporate plutocracy in America. NOTE: These totals include donations made to state candidates as well as congressional contenders.
Corporation & products Total contribution Percentage contributed
Bob Perry
Billionaire Houston developer. NOTE: An additional $1,284,600 was donated by Mrs. Bob Perry.
$10,517,050 92% to GOP
Jerry Perenchio
Multi-billionaire Hollywood media mogul.
$4,150,313 52% to GOP

0% to Dem

48% to other
Rob Rowling
Billionaire, owner of Gold's Gym, Omni Hotels, etc
$2,818,964 100% to GOP
Parker Collier
Florida developer who has given most of her money to Republicans outside of her state.
$1,239,014 100% to GOP
Paul Singer
Founder of a $7 billion hedge fund (Elliott Associates) and long time right wing funder, including helping finance the infamous Swift Boat Veterans for Truth front group used by the GOP to attack John Kerry in 2004. (*Libertarians)
$1,069,658 81% to GOP
19% to Libs*
Charles Schwab
Billionaire founder of his eponymous investment firm and longtime GOP partisan.
$933,550 100% to GOP
Jackson Stephens
Funded the ultra-conservative Club for Growth.
$765,406 95% to GOP
John Childs
Billionaire founder of JW Childs, a Boston private equity firm specializing in takeovers of consumer product corporations and health care companies.
$712,300 99% to GOP
Harlan Crow
Billionaire owner of Trammel Crow Company and Crow Holdings, huge developers and investors in everything from hotels to hedge funds.
$616,863 96% to GOP
Harold Simmons
Billionaire toxic waste disposal operator and funder of right-wing groups and candidates [NOTE: sued by his own daughters for illegally forging campaign contributions in their names without their knowledge or permission. Settled with them for $50 million.]
$614,800 88% to GOP
John Chambers
CEO of Cisco Systems, a Silicon Valley giant.
$582,100 72% to GOP
John Nau
Owner of the Houston distributor of Budweiser products and other beverages.
$504,974 95% to GOP

Go back to the list of industries


Manufacturing | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Deere & Co.
John Deere tractors, construction vehicles, crop insurance, credit
$656,240 63%
Caterpillar Inc. $487,661 85%
DuPont Co
The DuPont brand: assorted products, for home, garden, auto, etc.; Autograph nonstick coating for cookware; Garden products; Granite certified by DuPont; GreenVista; Harmony Extra XP herbicide; Plantex Pro; Pool Care System; Simplicity Solid Surfaces; Solae Soy protein; Storm Room residential in-home shelter; Surfaces: Corian, Zodiaq; Teflon; Tyvek envelopes and protective covers; Vinyl flooring: Sedona, Elevations, Aspirations; WLP Photoresist Removers
$218,424 60%
Whirlpool Corp.
Whirlpool; Amana; Estate; Gladiator; Jenn-Air; KitchenAid; Roper
$139,225 61%
FMC Corp.
Chemicals and pesticides (including): Authority XL; Cadet Herbicide; Hero; Brigade; Brigadier; Capture; Mustang
$135,261 65%
RPM International
Rust-Oleum; Tremclad; Plastic Wood; Testors
$112,100 72%
Ashland Inc.
Intertek; Valvoline; Zerex; MaxLife
$108,340 64%

Total contribution indicates the amount contributed to all parties. Percentage contributed reflects the amount given to a single party and/or members thereof.


20 for the Democrats | permalink to this section
While the corporate cash was overwhelmingly behind the GOP in 2010, the Dems also had some substantial brand-name backers. Here are the major corporations that put at least 70 percent of their political money into Democratic congressional candidates:
Corporation & products Total contribution Percentage to Democrats
Time Warner $983,983 81%
Google $956,164 73%
D.E. Shaw $581,649 96%
Prudential Financial $547,185 74%
Cablevision $464,280 71%
Qualcomm $431,023 77%
Sony $397,830 76%
Tishman $388,990 99%
Carnival Cruise Lines $371,760 77%
Corning Inc. $366,750 71%
PG&E $345,062 75%
Sun Healthcare $295,750 71%
Vivendi $263,831 74%
Gallo
Andre; Barefoot; Bartles & Jaymes; Boone's Farm; Carlo Rossi; E&J VS Brandy; Ecco Domani; Frei Brothers; Gallo; Livingston Cellars; Louis M. Martini; Mirassou; Rancho Zabaco; Red Bicyclette; Redwood Creek; Tisdale Vineyards; Turning Leaf; Whitehaven; William Hill Estate
$256,688 93%
Estee Lauder
Aramis; Estee Lauder; Clinique; Prescriptives; Origins; Kilton; M*A*C; Lab Series Skincare for Men; La Mer; Bobbi Brown; Donna Karan; Aveda; Jo Malone; Bumble and bumble; Michael Kors; American Beauty; Flirt!; Sean John; Daisy Fuentes; Tom Ford; Coach; Smashbox
$254,309 93%
Choice Hotels
Comfort Inn; Comfort Suites; Quality Inn; Sleep Inn; Clarion; Cambria Suites; MainStay Suites; Suburban; EconoLodge; Rodeway Inn; Ascend Collection
$206,400 91%
National Basketball Association $169,700 99%
DIAGEO, PLC
brands include: Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Captain Morgan, Baileys, J&B Jose Cuervo, Tanqueray, Guinness
$131,802 70%
Costco $126,945 84%
J. Crew $121,700 100%

Go back to the list of industries


Retail sales | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Home Depot $1,526,140 68%
Enterprise Rent-A-Car $624,854 72%
Target Corp. $445,485 61%
Amway/Alticor $344,407 100%
Cintas Corp.
Uniform apparel, etc.
$285,525 93%
Best Buy $235,100 72%
Limited Brands
Victoria's Secret; Bath & Body Works; White Barn Candle Co.; C.O. Bigelow; PINK; Henri Bendel; La Senza Lingerie
$211,950 75%
Lowe's [Hardware] Companies $197,775 65%
Rent-A-Center $148,086 64%
Curves International $147,500 99%
Pawn America
(in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, & Wisconsin)
$106,250 85%

Go back to the list of industries


Energy/Natural Resources/Mining (Oil & Gas) | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Koch Industries (refining) $1,911,212 93%
Exxon Mobil $1,331,258 87%
Chevron Corp $931,361 82%
Marathon Oil $664,790 78%
Valero Energy $589,500 82%
Peabody Energy $590,284 72%
Occidental Petroleum $569,900 77%
ConocoPhillips $443,754 71%
Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold $367,161 60%
Arch Coal $363,041 72%
Halliburton $316,280 89%

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Media | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Hallmark Cards $213,750 80%
American Greetings $147,600 60%
Newsmax Media $142,100 98%
Paisano Publications
Easyriders, V-Twin, In The Wind, Roadware, Tatoo Flash, Tattoo Annual, RebelRodz; Savage, Tattoo
$136,600 98%
Hubbard Broadcasting
In Minnesota and western Wisconsin: KSTP radio and tv, KSTC, ReelzChannel, Ovation TV, etc....
$182,310 98%
Salem Communications
Christian radio stations across the country
$151,350 99%

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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Bayer
Products include, but not limited to: Advantix and Advantage flea and tick treatment for pets; Aleve; Alka-Seltzer; Bayer Aspirin; Cipro; Levitra; Mirena; One A Day Multivitamins; Yasmin; Yaz
$332,918 60%
Schering-Plough
(merged with Merck in November 2009) Claritin; Clarinex; Vytorin; Dr Scholl's; Coppertone
$299,683 73%
Allergan Inc. $214,452 64%

Go back to the list of industries


The GOP's big 10 corporate players in 2010 | permalink to this section
Tax breaks, regulation of hedge funds, approval of mergers, military and homeland security contracts, environmental loopholes, restricting consumer lawsuits, offshore banking rules, CEO compensation limits, labor law reform--these are but a few of the issues of very special interest to the biggest corporate donors in last year's congressional races. Tallied here are (1) contributions from corporate PACs made directly to candidates, and (2) contributions from corporate 'soft money' accounts made to certain political committees.

The favor seekers insist that their donations are in no way to be considered bribes for specific legislative actions. Rather, they explain, the money merely buys access to lawmakers for top corporate executives and lobbyists.

Maybe. But where in Article One of the Constitution or in the First Amendment did the founders write that access to our national policymakers shall be for sale--with the most access going to those with the biggest checkbooks? NOTE: These totals include donations to state candidates as well as congressional contenders.
Corporation & products Total contribution Percentage contributed
Perry Homes
(owned by far right-wing ideologue Bob Perry of Houston, PH has built dozens of housing developments throughout Texas)
$12,235,975 91%
TRT Holdings
(owns Omni Hotel chain, Gold's Gym, Gaylord Entertainment [Hee-Haw, Grand Ole Opry, Opryland, WSM radio, etc....], an oil and gas company, and much more)
$5,260,344 100%
Chartwell
(a media investment firm owned by Hollywood agent, sports promoter, billionaire, and right-wing Republican Jerry Perenchio)
$3,335,913 99%
Altria
(the world's largest tobacco conglomerate, owning brands ranging from Marlboro cigarettes to Skoal smokeless tobacco)
$3,143,365 66%
Goldman Sachs $3,063,110 68%
Bank of America $2,798,712 60%
Koch Industries $2,518,743 90%
Home Depot $1,526,140 68%
Wells Fargo $1,717,480 66%
ExxonMobil $1,622,953 80%

Go back to the list of industries


Financial (Banks, Credit Companies, Investment Firms, Insurance, Real Estate, etc...) | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Goldman Sachs $2,424,777 60%
Bank of America $2,230,606 63%
Elliott Management $1,932,132 98%
Wells Fargo $1,616,243 64%
USAA $1,061,966 62%
BlueCross/BlueShield $916,719 78%
JW Childs $921,800 98%
Humana $765,652 65%
Bank of America $684,978 71%
American Express $660,981 60%
Aetna Inc. $636,155 69%
Capital I Financial $492,690 72%
Zurich Financial Services $471,644 68%
WellMed Medical Management $348,500 91%
First American Corp. $231,484 76%
Cerberus Capital Management $223,500 93%
Icahn Associates $190,400 91%
KKR & Co. $438,316 83%
US Bancorp $328,739 68%
Regions Financial $161,995 75%
SunTrust Banks $127,645 76%
Amerigroup Corp. $148,660 60%
Moneytree Inc. $147,322 77%
College Loan Corp. $131,397 81%

Total contribution indicates the amount contributed to all parties. Percentage contributed reflects the amount given to a single party and/or members thereof.

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Response to my enquiry re USAA contributions

Dear Captain Remus,

You recently contacted us regarding contributions to politicians. Our management team has provided the response below:

Thank your membership with USAA and for the opportunity to respond to your recent email regarding political contributions.

In your inquiry, I expect you are referencing contributions made by the USAA Employee Political Action Committee (PAC), not USAA. Federal campaign finance law prohibits a corporation from contributing corporate funds to candidates for federal office. Accordingly, USAA does not, and legally cannot, contribute to federal candidates or political parties. Nevertheless, our employees do believe it essential for us to participate in the policy-making process and have established the USAA Employee PAC to make such contributions. The PAC is supported by roughly 4,300 USAA employees, who fund it through voluntary donations.

The Board of Directors of the USAA Employee PAC analyzes and directs the PAC s contributions to candidates who have indicated or demonstrated they will support legislation that facilitates USAA s ability to offer highly competitive products and world class levels of service to its members.

Thank you again for the opportunity to respond to your question, and thank you for your membership with USAA. I hope this response has been helpful.

Warm regards,

Emily Willeford
Director, Political Affairs

-- posted by tremus at 6:11pm, April 16, 2011
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political contributions

All of this info is great to have summarized. Dealing with data on the FEC site is no easy task. Since the Citizen's United decision by the supremes is always described as "...contributions by corporations and UNIONS...", I'd like to seem similar info for the "Unions" part. I suspect it will pale in comparison, but would really appreciate having access to some useful facts.

-- posted by BOBABNEY at 1:05pm, April 15, 2011
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Good work

This is great information for all of us to have. I also want to focus on mainstream television and how they cause us all to be filled with ignorance, hate, greed, clannishness, perversion and mental illness.

-- posted by Mike Hayne at 7:02am, March 18, 2011
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It's all very disheartening.

It's all very disheartening. That's why I don't even bother to vote anymore. I don't have that much money and what little I do have I must use for groceries and prescription drugs, not purchasing the favors of my "democratically elected leaders".

-- posted by stranger at 12:09pm, March 14, 2011
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How to make Washington Honest and Accountable

Phillip K Notz

We have to make Washington representatives accountable to the American People, accountable for their fiscal responsibility and remove their Royalty status. That will take a Constitutional Amendment. Anything else is just a waste of time. To view an amendment that will do the trick, go to bastilleamendment.org There is a section for comments on the amendment. I am the sole author of the amendment.

-- posted by Phil Notz at 8:04pm, March 11, 2011
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Article, "Here's who is buying ....", March 2011

One Buck, One Vote

Democracy limps
under burdens too onerous,
when a politician pimps
for the overly donorous.
A system of "one buck, one vote".
Response to the People remote.
. . . . . . . . . . . .

-- posted by Steve Marshall at 5:35am, March 10, 2011
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