Where Secret Political Money Really Comes From

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Still from an ad being run by Crossroads GPS, a tax-exempt group founded by Karl Rove to advocate conservative issues (CrossroadsGPS)

Lee Drutman, a senior fellow at Sunlight Foundation, which advocates for more transparent government, explains the state of campaign finance today, and how it's 501(c)(4)s - not the SuperPACs - that are having the biggest impact.

Comments [21]

Sheldon from Brooklyn

Gary - Fox and CNN have been covering it all week. To say Republicans, as a party, have been trying to close tax loopholes, is laughable. Brain had someone on from Bain capital recently..

Jul. 11 2012 11:24 AM
gary from queens

Dan----you may not be aware that republicans offered killing tax loopholes but Dems still wanted to raise marginal tax rates, so no deal.

The IRS is still trying to get billions from Buffet in taxes he owes

Jul. 11 2012 11:16 AM
gary from queens

SHELDON: "The show recently did a segment on (Obama's) "disappointing" job numbers. The off-shore account controversy was covered by the rest of the media, all week."

Yes Sheldon. MSM is liberal. So is NPR, Brian's sponsor. Gives him political cover to report on it on his show. And the job numbers were front page. hard to ignore.

So what you do as an NPR hack is to bring on liberal MSM reporters or left of center to comment on issues. Where is the counterpoint? why cant there be pro and con debating? fearful of the truth?

Jul. 11 2012 11:11 AM

Mr. Drutman said "Most of the money is on the right." Unfortunately, neither Drutman nor Lehrer even try to provide a balanced accounting or reveal that from 2005 to 2011, labor unions gave $4.4 Billion, almost all to the Democrats.

It's sad that NPR and Brian Lehrer, using taxpayer money, supposedly with the goal of informing the public, push their political preferences while supressing counter information. Not only is it unfair, it's also intellectually weak.

Jul. 11 2012 11:01 AM
gary from queens

BL Producer:

And my post WAS on campaign finance. Mention of the Swiss bank accounts was the opening segue to my observations on "offshore" campaign finance.

Again, please be less politically biased in your scrutiny of posts. Don't be pressured by Sheldon and other self appointed screeners.

Jul. 11 2012 11:01 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Gary - The show recently did a segment on (Obama's) "disappointing" job numbers. The off-shore account controversy was covered by the rest of the media, all week.

Jul. 11 2012 10:53 AM
gary from queens

I have a response to "BL Producer":

You seem to get awfully restrictive on subject matter when it pertains to my posts. Yet day after day (and including here on this thread), I read many posts that go off on real tangents, and not a word is said by you. Why do you focuss on just me?

Is it because it was a long post? it was far less than your maximum 3000 chars. It was 1777.

Please establish more specific rules about length of posts. And be more specific about posting quotes from articles. You once requested that attributions be included in posting excerpts. Is that no longer the case?

Jul. 11 2012 10:51 AM


'There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning.' -Warren Buffett

Jul. 11 2012 10:46 AM
gary from queens

Dear Sheldon

I appreciate your constant attention to my posts. really.

But you should realize that I wouldnt bother posting anything is Brian would invite counterpoint on such subjects.

Yesterday it was all about Romney's offshore investments, now this morning with another left of center member of an organization discussing citizens united (again) and secret funders.

Jul. 11 2012 10:43 AM
John A from 2 feet from a TV (off)

The deeper story...
Television controls the minds of tens of millions of Americans, and there are billion$ going around to prove it.

Jul. 11 2012 10:42 AM

"Anonomizing donations?"

Where is Julian Assange when we need him??

Jul. 11 2012 10:41 AM
BK from NJ

If it looks like a duck...
That was obviously a political ad to any reasonable person's ears.
When is the IRS and FEC going to crack down on this garbage? I would also like to see the IRS crack down on preachers and church members using their pulpits to tell their flocks how to vote. When an entity is tax exempt, then all of us taxpayers are subsidizing them. If a priest tells his congregation how to vote, the parish loses its status.
I am disgusted by the hijacking of democracy. And yes Martin, this should apply to unions as well. It's time for a
Constitutional amendment to federalize the entire election process (no more hanging chads, voter ID laws), standardize voting machines, and ban political contributions and have public funded presidential and Congressional elections.

Jul. 11 2012 10:41 AM
Peter from Inwood

Money equals access and votes. Both sides of the aisle and the public interest groups desire that bills, laws and rulings go in their favor. These people will do whatever it takes to influence outcomes.

Jul. 11 2012 10:39 AM
Mike from Brooklyn

501(c)4 are not all bad. There are many fantastic organizations in NYC alone such as Community Voices Heard, NY Communities for Change, Drug Policy Alliance just to name a few which have both a 501(c)3 as well as a 501(c)4. If an organization wants to be able to lobby or support a particular candidate they must have a 501(c)4 status so some 501(c)3 non-profit organizations have a second organizational name/tax status so that they can engage in this type of electoral work. Money should stay out of politics, but should community organizations? There might be many abuses of the the 501(c)4 status, but there are also amazing organizations doing amazing work and we shouldn't forget about them in this conversation.

Jul. 11 2012 10:38 AM

Apparently not only are corporations people, but money is people, too!

Why don't we just let Christie's auction off the office and collect all that money wasted on campaigns to pay down the debt?

Jul. 11 2012 10:38 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

@Gary - that isn't "class-warfare" it's politics. Gingrich, Perry, and Santorum raised the same questions, oh - so 4 months ago, during the primaries - are they left-wing radicals?

Jul. 11 2012 10:38 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

I think your guest should clarify: Mr. Rove's ad does not inform the public about President Obama's policies; it informs the public about Mr. Rove's negative interpretations of President Obama's policies. Big diff between fact and ideology.

Jul. 11 2012 10:37 AM
gary from queens

[[BL Producer Writes: Gary, this segment is not about Swiss bank accounts, but about campaign finance disclosure. FYI, we'll be following up on Friday with a guest who will defend offshore accounts.]]

Brian Lehrer promptly complied with Obama for America campaign manager Jim Messina who urged “every reporter covering Romney” to read left-wing Vanity Fair’s new report on Romney's offshore finances.

But these attacks were launched the same week that the Hollywood Reporter reported that actor George Clooney will entertain 150 European elites at a swanky Swiss reception, “which will be followed by a more intimate — and expensive — dinner at which the star will be the guest of honor. Tickets for the latter event will go for $20,000 for singles and $30,000 for couples.”

As Reuters reported at the time, Clooney spearheaded a similar event in Geneva, “one of the world’s most affluent cities,” in 2008. “Some 170 contributors paid $1,000 a head to hear him speak at a cocktail party held at a museum in Geneva’s Old Town. And 75 high-rolling supporters spent $10,000 each to attend ‘an intimate seated dinner’” with the actor.

Also, Robert Wolf is president of Swiss financial giant UBS Investment Bank and chairman of UBS Americas. According to campaign-finance records, this longtime friend and fat cat has personally bundled more than $500,000 for Obama, dating back to Obama’s Illinois Senate days.

Wolf sits on Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board and the presidential Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. In August 2010, Obama’s Internal Revenue Service dropped its lawsuit over UBS tax havens. The company forked over nearly $800 million to make the investigators all go away.

Wolf’s no lone Swiss-based Obama wolf. The left-leaning BuzzFeed and right-leaning Washington Free Beacon websites both noted in April that another deep-pocketed Obama bundler, Charles Adams, heads the Swiss office of powerhouse law firm Akin Gump. He’s raised at least $100,000.

Jul. 11 2012 10:36 AM

Why are you only getting to exploring this now? Colbert has been exposing it for months -- since he started his Super PAC and then converted to this more secretive PAC.

Jul. 11 2012 10:30 AM

Secret Political Money Really Comes From all the poor and working class buying goods and services, but in between there are shareholders, whose only interest is increase profits, by cutting costs and regulations.

Jul. 11 2012 10:14 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Brian – We know that you are well aware that in the recent 2010 elections, 3 of the 5 biggest sources of campaign funding were public worker unions.... and the money all went to Democrats. Please avoid the usual left wing agitprop on this topic, even though Drutman (a former Senate Democrat staffer) and the Sunlight Foundation have specialized in one-sided anti-corporate activism despite their claim of being a bipartisan watchdog of transparency. Let’s have a more “inclusive” discussion here and discuss union money and the "secret" money from the myriad phony foundations/ front groups that the unions have set up.

Jul. 11 2012 09:46 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.