April's Lowdown

April 2013, Volume 15, Number 4

Edited by Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer


Logo Lowdown from the 2012 elections. Part 1--donors on the record

Here's who is buying America's democracy

The spark that ignited tea party wrath in 2008 was not such right-wing bugaboos as "Obamacare," the federal deficit, or states' rights, which were added on later by Koch-created front groups. Rather, the uprising sprang directly from the public's raw outrage over Washington's flagrant coddling of Wall Street banksters.

People were affronted by the most naked example in recent times of the power of corporate campaign cash to buy an obscene injustice. Here were America's most privileged elites in plain view, jetting into the capitol city to call in all of the favors they were owed for the political "donations" they had previously made. That binding, ongoing dependence of lawmakers on Big Money is what allowed the Wall Street titans to (1) escape jail for their reckless selfishness, which crashed our entire economy and destroyed millions of our jobs; (2) keep their top-executive jobs, their grossly inflated paychecks, and their even-more-inflated sense of self-worth; and (3) be handed trillions of dollars from us taxpayers and Federal Reserve "regulators" to bail them out while workaday people were left to sink.

Brandishing the tea party banner in 2010, a bevy of new candidates parlayed the public's fury into a Republican takeover of the US House. However, having gained the power to push for a little less corruption, one of the very first actions these fire-breathing "reformers" took after being sworn in was to make special-interest political money more influential than ever by voting to kill the Presidential Election Campaign Fund (PECF), the sole financing mechanism for clean elections in national law. It disburses no-strings-attached public funds to presidential candidates so they don't have to debase themselves by dragging a sack down K-Street, through Wall Street suites, and into the penthouses of the super-rich--literally selling themselves to private interests, one check at a time.

It's the most god-awful human activity that doesn't involve physical pain. ---- FORMER REP. BARNEY FRANK, remarking on constantly having to solicit campaign donations from wealthy interests, which he candidly calls "begging" and "debasing yourself."

Admittedly, the presidential fund has been greatly weakened since it was enacted in 1974. But, in the wake of the Wall Street bailout scandal, the logical step to take would've been to strengthen and extend that public financing alternative as a way to limit the spoilage that inevitably flows from special-interest political spending.

But no. Such pinheaded potentates of the House as Majority Leader Eric Cantor strutted out to declare that killing public financing was "a no-brainer" (a phrase that, ironically, admitted the mindlessness of his move).

The supremacy of private-interest funding has turned our elections into a crass auction of government power to the wealthiest of moneyed elites.

Who are these masked men? We the People have a right to follow the money, right down to the brand names that take our consumer dollars and convert them into political donations that produce anti-consumer, anti-worker, anti-environment, anti-democracy public policies. This month and next, the Lowdown will name as many of these heavy hitters as we can unmask, including some of the severely shy ones trying to hide their self-serving corporate donations by funneling them through secretive "dark money" front groups.

In this issue, we chart the flow of publicly reported contributions that corporations make through their executives, PACs, and "soft money" channels. The numbers here are drawn from the comprehensive compilations of our country's two preeminent trackers of political money: OpenSecrets and the Sunlight Foundation. We break the brand name donors into industry groups, listing major corporations that gave $100,000 or more to the GOP's presidential and congressional campaigns, with at least two-thirds of their money going to Republican presidential and congressional candidates, party groups, or outside electioneering fronts.

We also list the top-20 brand name backers of 2012's Democratic candidates for the White House and Congress. In the May issue, the Lowdown will focus on the self-serving corporate donations funneled in by secretive SuperPACs and dark-money front groups run by the likes of Karl Rove and the US Chamber of Commerce.

Jump ahead to:


Supermarkets | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Publix Super Markets $1,103,598 83%
Kroger $365,067 81%
Shamrock Foods $254,235 100%
Meijer $235,689 96%
Houchens Industries
Houchens Markets, IGA, Save-A-Lot, Mad Butcher, Piggly Wiggly, Tobacco Shoppe.
$116,800 100%

Go back to the list of industries


Retail sales and services | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Home Depot $2,151,998 76%
Amway/Alticor $761,200 87%
Best Buy $254,235 65%
Lowe’s $339,862 75%

Go back to the list of industries


Corporate farms and suppliers | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
John Deere
Tractors, mowers, tools, bbq grills, chemicals, wagons and toys for children, etc.
$874,605 88%
Monsanto
Pesticides (especially its “Roundup” brand) and seeds (top maker/marketer of corn, soybean, cotton, and others seeds that have had their DNA altered with genetically modified organisms). These seeds, branded as “Roundup Ready,” are bio-engineered to make the plants they produce able to absorb heavier doses of “Roundup” pesticides.
$536,604 66%
Cargill
Global grain trader. Also markets animal and food processing ingredients. Brands include Purina, Nutrena, LNB, Provimi, Cargill.
$412,941 80%
Sanderson Farms
Chicken products.
$213,700 77%
Agri Beef
Packaged beef products include Snake River Farms, Double R Ranch, St. Helens, Rancho El Oro.
$181,950 97%
PictSweet
Brand of frozen vegetables.
$171,038 96%
Peace River Citrus
Fresh citrus and frozen juice products.
$159,250 92%
J.R. Simplot
Major supplier of potatoes to McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s.
$153,150 88%
Case New Holland
Tractors, other agricultural equipment, and construction equipment.
$149,988 95%

Go back to the list of industries


Food and beverage processors | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Altria Group
Tobacco giant (Philip Morris), but also owns such wineries as Chateau Ste. Michelle, 14 Hands, Antica Napa Valley, Antinori, Col de’Salici, Columbia Crest, Conn Creek, Distant Bay, and Erath.
$1,721,888 81%
Dean Foods
Owns dozens of milk brands including Borden, Oak Farms, Meadow Gold, TruMoo, Swiss Premium, Dean’s, Garelick Farms, Lehigh Valley, Shenandoah’s, Morning Glory, Alta Dena, PET, Purity, and Hygeia. Also owns Horizon, the largest seller of organic milk products, and Silk, which makes soymilk, almondmilk, and coconutmilk.
$331,967 74%
Tyson Foods
America’s biggest factory farm operator and meat processor. Brands of poultry, pork, and beef include Tyson, Bonici, Mexican Original, Wright, IBP (formerly Iowa Beef Processors), and Lady Aster.
$294,261 65%
SABMiller
Miller beers, Blue Moon, Coors Light, Hamm’s, Henry Weinhard’s, Icehouse, Leinenkugel’s, MGD 64, Mickey’s Malt Liquor, Milwaukee’s Best, Old English 800 Malt Liquor.
$278,736 76%
Bacardi
Bacardi, Bombay Sapphire, Oxley, Eristoff, Grey Goose, 42Below, Martini, Noilly Prat, Martini sparkling wines, Dewar’s, Cazadores, Corzo, B&B, Benedictine, Drambuie, Disaronno, and Hatuey beer.
$264,295 96%
ConAgra Foods
Reddi-wip, Hunt’s, Ro*Tel, Healthy Choice, Swiss Miss, Marie Callender’s frozen foods, PAM, Chef Boyardee, Orville Redenbacher’s, Egg Beaters, Fiddle Faddle, Fleischman’s, Gulden’s, Hebrew National, P.F. Chang’s, Parkay, Penrose, Peter Pan, Poppycock, Ranch Style beans, Rosarita, ACT II popcorn, Alexia, Andy Capp’s, Banquet, Bertolli, Blue Bonnet, Crunch ’n Munch, Jiffy Pop, Kid Cuisine, Libby, Manwich, SlimJim, Snack pack, UltraGrain, VanCamp’s, Wesson, and Wolf Brand Chili, etc.
$213,697 80%
Trident Seafoods
Biggest US seafood processor. Brands of frozen, canned, and prepared products include Louis Kemp, Red King, Alaska, Salmon Burger, and PubHouse.
$211,370 98%
Johnsonville Sausages $206,750 100%
H.J. Heinz
Heinz, Bagel Bites, Classico, Jack Daniel’s Sauces, Lea & Perrins, Nancy’s, Ore-Ida, Poppers, Smart Ones, T.G.I. Friday’s frozen foods, and Wyler’s bouillon and soup/dip mixes.
$200,790 71%
Flowers Foods
Nature’s Own, Whitewheat, Cobblestone Mill, Sunbeam, Bunny Bread, ButterKrust Bakery, European Bakers, Tastykake, Mrs. Freshley’s, Blue Bird, Mi Casa.
$195,500 100%
Russell Stover Candies
Russell Stover’s, Whitman’s, Pangburn’s.
$190,302 100%
Silverado Vineyards $184,750 73%
Patrón Spirits
Patrón, Ultimat Vodka, and Pyrat Rum
$182,650 73%
J.M. Smucker
Adams peanut butter, Café Bustelo, Crisco, Crosse & Blackwell, Dunkin’ Donuts (in stores), Dutch Girl, Eagle Brand, Folgers, Hungry Jack, Jif, Kava, Knott’s Berry Farm, Laura Scudder’s, Magnolia, Martha White, Mary Ellen, Pillsbury, R.W. Knudsen, Santa Cruz Organic,
and Smucker’s.
$161,410 93%
JBS
Swift meats, Gold Kist Farms, Pilgrim’s Pride (Pilgrim’s Co.), 1855, Aspen Ridge Natural Beef, 5 Star Beef, Miller’s Blue Ribbon Beef, Liberty Bell, Moyer, Packerland.
$126,000 84%
McKee Foods
Little Debbie snacks, Sunbelt, Heartland, Fieldstone Bakery.
$119,815 98%
Jel Sert
Freezer Bars (Fla-Vor-Ice, Pop-Ice, Otter Pops, Bolis,
Mr. Freeze, Frootee Ice, Slush Puppie, Wyler’s, Kool Pops, Soda Pop Freezer Bars , Arnold Palmer, Sunkist Freezer Bars, Snapple Sorbet Bars). Beverages (Flavor Aid, Hawaiian Punch, Warheads, Airheads). Dessert Mixes (Royal, My-T-Fine).
$108,800 100%

Go back to the list of industries


Restaurant chains | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
McDonald’s $1,334,547 69%
OSI Restaurant Partners
Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, Flemings, Roy’s.
$805,670 97%
Wendy’s $447,907 84%
TACO PAC
Taco Bell Franchisees.
$443,250 98%
Buffalo Wild Wings $226,615 92%
Yum! Brands
KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell.
$211,564 85%
Pizza Hut Franchisees $197,500 98%

Go back to the list of industries


Oil & gas | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
ExxonMobil $2,769,917 88%
Koch Industries
Millions more donated to GOP campaigns by Koch brothers. Their front groups (such as Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks) and various right-wing SuperPAC’s and dark-money groups.
$2,391,048 98%
Chesapeake Energy $1,759,933 76%
Occidental Petroleum $1,550,976 66%
Valero Energy $828,919 91%
ConocoPhillips $638,902 88%
Marathon Petroleum $616,698 93%
Hess Oil & Gas $583,175 76%
Williams Companies $452,750 82%
Spectra Energy $344,586 67%
El Paso Corp. $302,744 73%

Go back to the list of industries


Trucking | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Cen Tra $449,450 95%
Knight Transportation $247,200 100%
Oshkosh Corp. $245,131 68%
Allen Trucking $245,100 100%
Prime $232,300 99%
Werner Enterprises $202,850 100%
Ryder Systems $192,853 88%
Old Dominion Freight $178,910 97%
AAA Cooper Transportation $169,500 100%
Penske Truck Rental $155,807 96%
Navistar International $155,726 79%

Go back to the list of industries


Forestry & paper | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
International Paper
Hammermill, Springhill, Williamsburg, etc.
$943,584 66%
Koch Industries
Its Georgia-Pacific division owns such paper-product brands as Brawny, Dixie, Angel Soft, Quilted Northern, Soft ’n Gentle, Sparkle, Mardi Gras ,Vanity Fair napkins, Zee, Advantage, and Spectrum. Also owns Stainmaster carpets and the Lycra line of clothing.
$336,113 93%
Sierra Pacific Industries
Lumber, millwork, building materials.
$336,113 93%
Stimson Lumber $111,200 98%
Sun Mountain Lumber $100,500 100%

Go back to the list of industries


Trucking | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Cen Tra $449,450 95%
Knight Transportation $247,200 100%
Oshkosh Corp. $245,131 68%
Allen Trucking $245,100 100%
Prime $232,300 99%
Werner Enterprises $202,850 100%
Ryder Systems $192,853 88%
Old Dominion Freight $178,910 97%
AAA Cooper Transportation $169,500 100%
Penske Truck Rental $155,807 96%
Navistar International $155,726 79%

Go back to the list of industries


Trains & ships | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Burlington Northern
(owned by Berkshire Hathaway)
$1,935,309 66%
Union Pacific $1,564,499 67%
Norfolk Southern $1,296,290 65%
Kirby $465,998 95%

Go back to the list of industries


Equipment & materials | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Caterpillar $671,592 84%
CEMEX
Cement products including Brisket, Dixie, Richmortar, Richcolor, Victor, Broco, Citadel, Kosmortar.
$238,152 91%
84 Lumber stores $152,240 91%
Owens Corning $143,192 85%
Kohler
Bath & kitchen fixtures.
$122,250 91%

Go back to the list of industries


Insurance corporations | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
USAA $1,545,191 78%
Massachusetts Mutual Life $1,413,624 68%
Northwestern Mutual $1,142,686 67%
Zurich Financial Services $751,029 71%
Travelers $743,705 68%

Go back to the list of industries


Builders | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
M.D.C. Holdings
Richmond American Homes.
$348,150 67%
NVR
Ryan Homes, NVHomes, Fox Ridge Homes, Heartland Homes.
$240,984 98%
Granville Homes $235,400 90%
Robson Communities $144,050 94%
William Lyon Homes $143,100 90%
Clayton Homes $141,775 85%
George Lewis Homes $114,650 100%

Go back to the list of industries


Coal | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Murray Energy $1,407,352 93%
Alpha Natural Resources $816,092 72%
Arch Coal $712,703 82%
Peabody Energy $559,475 92%
Drummond Co. $395,600 89%
Patriot Coal $333,300 89%
Pine Branch Coal $292,600 79%
Boich Companies $267,600 83%

Go back to the list of industries


Airlines/Air freight | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
United Parcel Service (UPS) $2,331,7452 65%
FedEx $1,841,226 70%
AMR American Airlines $810,947 69%
Textron
Bell Helicopter, Cessna, E-Z-GO golf carts and utility vehicles, Greenlee, Jacobsen.
$495,451 73%
Southwest Airlines $287,143 74%
Azul Airlines $151,600 100%

Go back to the list of industries


Investment houses | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Goldman Sachs $7,887,924 65%
Morgan Stanley $3,729,163 69%
Bank of America $4,624,122 70%
Wells Fargo $3,579,349 70%
Credit Suisse Group $2,359,598 71%
Deutsche Bank $408,612 66%

Go back to the list of industries


Capital management | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Elliott Associates and Elliott Management $5,223,996 100%
KKR $2,309,466 75%
H.I.G. $1,369,294 75%
Carlyle Group $1,083,228 67%
Madison Dearborn Partners $836,950 83%
Cerberus Capital Mgmt. $801,588 74%
Arclight Capital Partners $763,950 99%
Summit Partners $695,095 69%
AQR Capital Management $673,349 84%
SAC Capital Advisors $499,550 72%

Go back to the list of industries


Commercial and mortgage banks | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
PNC Financial $637,589 72%
Quicken Loans $611,524 92%
SunTrust Banks $424,645 81%
Huntington Bancshares $405,628 77%
BB&T Corp. $399,706 88%
IBC Bank. $165,256 96%
Mortgage Investors Corp. $350,400 71%
Academy Mortgage $155,450 100%

Go back to the list of industries


Loan companies | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Capital One Finance $979,050 69%
SLM $511,762 81%
General Electric $311,595 72%
Jones Mgmt. Services $295,772 88%
CIT Group $241,852 82%
QC Holdings $216,205 77%
First Data $204,743 89%

Go back to the list of industries


Resorts/entertainment | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation
Sycuan Casino
$431,614 68%
Wynn Resorts $406,926 98%
Blackstone Group
SeaWorld, Busch Gardens; investments include LegoLand, Madame Tussauds, La Quinta, Luxury Resorts, Hilton Hotels, The Weather Channel.
$422,346 65%
Station Casinos
Red Rock Casino, Green Valley Ranch, Palace Station, Sunset Station, Boulder Station, Santa Fe Station, Texas Station, Fiesta Henderson, Fiesta Rancho, Wild Wild West Gambling Hall.
$365,600 72%
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort $189,900 68%
Herschend Family Entertainment
Stone Mountain Amusement Parks, Silver Dollar City, Dollywood, Dixie Stampede, Elitch Gardens, Newport Aquarium.
$182,997 100%
Woodside Hotels & Resorts $131,100 81%
Abercrombie & Kent $112,050 77%
Treasure Island Hotel $110,800 100%

Go back to the list of industries


Pro sports | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
NASCAR $458,926 96%
Ultimate Fighting Championship $451,362 68%
Arizona Cardinals $304,470 98%
Washington Redskins $221,905 100%
Atlanta Hawks $215,790 75%
International Speedway $196,650 77%
Jacksonville Jaguars $169,900 90%
Arizona Diamondbacks $169,250 99%

Go back to the list of industries


Radio/television/music | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
CC Media Holdings
Clear Channel (radio stations, billboards, etc.).
$862,637 71%
Cablevision $806,336 68%
Salem Communications
Dozens of right-wing and Christian radio stations, websites, magazines, etc.
$162,500 100%
Curb Records $137,500 94%
Weather Channel $103,200 75%
Liberty Global
Brands include UPC, Unitymedia, Kabel BW, Telenet, VTR.
$100,005 91%

Go back to the list of industries


Publishing | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Hallmark Cards $259,051 69%
Ingram Industries
Distributor of books, Christian books, eBooks; also largest US inland barge operator/shipper.
$227,000 97%
Christian Book Distributors $224,299 100%
Paisano Publications
Magazines include Easyriders, Road Iron, V-Twin, Wrench, Tattoo, In The Wind, Savage, Flash, Rebel Rodz, and Ink Fashion.
$193,200 94%
Newsmax $123,800 100%

Go back to the list of industries


Health care corporations | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Rothman Institute $259,051 69%
Ingram Industries
Distributor of books, Christian books, eBooks; also largest US inland barge operator/shipper.
$887,700 100%
Humana $734,881 69%
Cancer Treatment Centers of America $586,435 100%
Hercules Holding $439,415 70%
HCR ManorCare $421,773 72%
Bayer
Bayer Aspirin, Flintstones Vitamins, Alka-Seltzer, One A Day, Citracal, Midol; Prescription: Yaz, Mirena, Adalat, etc.
$420,177 69%
21st Century Oncology $326,990 67%
Invacare $293,750 80%
American Kidney Stone Management $279,000 98%
Starkey Laboratories
Hearing aids.
$213,051 100%
Electrostim Medical Services $168,580 100%
AdvoCare $156,750 100%
Shaklee $99,250 72%

Go back to the list of industries


Miscellaneous | permalink to this section
Corporation & products Total contribution % to Republicans
Altria Group
Marlboro, Basic, Benson & Hedges, Cambridge, Chesterfield, Commander, Dave’s, English Ovals, L&M, Lark, Merit, Parliament, Players, Saratoga, Virginia Slims, Copenhagen, Cope (smokeless), Skoal, Red Seal, Husky, John Middleton cigars, Prince Albert’s pipe tobacco, Nu Mark tobacco mints, etc.
$1,721,888 81%
Dow Chemical $843,307 77%
Timken car parts $527,420 100%
Reynolds American
Camel, Pall Mall, Winston, Salem, Doral, Kool, Misty, Capri, Grizzly, Kodiak, Cougar, American Spirit.
$465,975 94%
Lorillard Tobacco
Newport, Kent, True, Maverick, Old Gold.
$354,3300 74%
Swisher International
Swisher, Santa Fe, King Edward, Goodies, Blackstone, Keep Moving Goodies, Kayak, Silver Creek, Casino Gold, Clasico, La Intimidad, Macbeth, Miramar, Vieja Tradicion, Swisher Sweets.
$326,000 98%
US Steel $273,496 85%
Goodyear Tire & Rubber $225,132 74%
AutoNation $197,777 93%
3M $333,000 72%

Go back to the list of industries



Bookmark and Share

DISCUSS THIS ARTICLE