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Jan
2014
17

REPORT: Dow Chemical Funneled $2M Into Michigan “Right-to-Work” Fight

It's More Like OW Chemical

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The release of a new investigation by The Center for Public Integrity shows that the flow of corporate cash to politicians is not as direct as predicted following 2010’s Citizens United vs. FEC decision.  Onlookers believed corporations would simply bankroll candidates but they have instead at times used loopholes in the legal system to ship their money to “social welfare nonprofits” to remain behind the veil of heavy-handed political manipulation.

The report, “Dark Money INC.,” researched the filings of the top 300 companies in America and found that $185 million was funneled to causes through politically active groups (including the Chamber of Commerce and Fix the Debt) in the span of nearly a year.  In taking advantage of the tax code’s classification of 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) organizations, corporations do not have to publicly disclose their expenditures to political causes, allowing them a certain level of anonymity as they use money to change the law in their favor.

A figure which has drawn immediate attention is the $2 million Dow Chemical poured in Michigan’s “Right-to-Work” initiative. The Detroit Free Press explains:

Dow, according to the report, revealed in filings posted on its corporate website that it gave $2 million to the Michigan Alliance for Business Growth and $611,700 to the Michigan Chamber of Commerce in 2012. Those groups, in turn, were identified as the two top underwriters of the opposition to Proposal 2.

It was only after the referendum was defeated that Gov. Rick Snyder embraced legislation — since passed — that prohibited contracts that required union membership as a condition of employment, turning Michigan, where the modern labor movement began, into a right-to-work state.

According to tax records, Dow was the Michigan Alliance for Business Growth’s largest donor. Contacted by the Center for Public Integrity, Dow Chemical spokeswoman Sara Steele declined to discuss the company’s support for the groups.

The center’s report also noted state Attorney General Bill Schuette’s link to a nonprofit called On Duty for Michigan. It raised $202,000 in 2010, in part from contributions from companies including Monsanto, Aetna and CVS Caremark. A spokesman for the nonprofit said it takes part in “issue advocacy” and will begin identifying donors this year.

A group called the Michigan Jobs and Labor Foundation — described as pro-Republican by the center — raised about $630,000 for “polling and educational seminars,” some of which came from Exelon, Aetna, Pfizer and others.

As The Center for Public Integrity reveals, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also using its political pull to halt attempts at transparency.  The Chamber of Commerce is easily one of the most politically active groups in the dark money machine, and they want to make sure you know nothing of it:

The Chamber is also Washington’s king of the influence game, having spent more than $100 million in 2012 lobbying on issues ranging from financial regulations to health care to immigration reform.
In recent years, it has also worked hard to defeat the DISCLOSE Act — legislation advanced by Democrats to require politically active nonprofits to reveal additional information about their funders.
With many activists, lawmakers and regulators clamoring for increased scrutiny of political spending by social welfare nonprofits, trade associations like the Chamber could play even larger roles in terms of dark money spending in the 2014 and 2016 elections.

The $11 million in disclosed contributions are a mere sliver of the Chamber’s $188 million in total 2012 receipts.

The top self-reporting donors to the Chamber in 2012 are: Dow Chemical Co. ($2.9 million), Chevron Corp. ($1 million), Merck & Co., Inc. ($907,500), American Electric Power Co., Inc. ($525,000) and 3M Co. ($515,500).

Yet companies likely gave much more than was able to be counted. Several companies reported only what portion of their dues payments were used for lobbying and political activities, not their total contributions.

Dark money has changed the way business is done in Washington. As this report makes painfully clear, it takes years long to uncover the degree and direction of corporate influence on any given election, ballot initiative, or court case. The more layers companies can hide behind, the less chance the public has to mount a concerted response, to show public displeasure through traditional means of protest such as boycotts. This trend (read: plague) benefits the few at the expense of the many leading to an undemocratic endgame where “we the people” are devoid of a place at the table.

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One Comment on “REPORT: Dow Chemical Funneled $2M Into Michigan “Right-to-Work” Fight”

  1. Due to the veniality of all of the Republicans, and too many Democrats, corporatism continues to usurp the powers entrusted to the people by the Constitution. If by their actions shall we know them, corporations have proven that the Constitution is just a piece of paper - and the people be damned.

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