How long has it been since the Citizens United decision–less than two years? And with the presidential election forthcoming, is it any surprise corporate contributions are on the rise (way on the rise)? A recent review conducted by The New York Times of "corporate governance reports, tax returns by nonprofits, and regulatory filings by insurers and labor unions" revealed that political contributions being made by businesses to groups dedicated to molding public policy and limiting big government, are on the increase. (No kidding?) Many of the corporate contributions also had not been previously reported, the NYT review found. Just a small oversight no doubt.
Some of the big recipients of the aforementioned corporate largesse are organized under the 501(c)(4) provision of the U.S. Tax Code, such as organizations dedicated to promoting community interests. Since these organizations are not specifically political organizations, they are not required to register with the Federal Elections Commission, thus corporate donors are protected from the ire of stockholders or any figurative grenades tossed by those on the opposite side of the political fence.
The New York Times, article of July 7, 2012, by Mike McIntire and Nicholas Confessore, notes the behavior of big donors, such as American Electric Power which gave $1 million to a recently formed tax-exempt group garnering money to push for limited government ("limited government" is short-hand for no oversight and let the big dogs hunt however they want) and Aetna which gave $3 million to the American Action Network—a conservative group bombarding lawmakers who supported Health Care Reform (no matter that Aetna’s president was pro-health care reform). According to McIntire and Confessore, everybody’s doing it, Prudential Financial, Dow Chemical, Merck, and more.
Melanie Sloan, Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a group that filed complaints against the so-called "issue groups," believes fund raising by 501(c)(4)s’ may eclipse that of PACs "because so many donors want to remain anonymous."
Do the words, full disclosure mean anything any more? Not today, which is the "Wild West" of politics, where money talks louder than ever before.