[Marxism] Nader, McKinney, etc.

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at gmail.com
Sun Jun 8 11:42:29 MDT 2008


Ruthless wrote or quoted: "This table lists the top donors to this
candidate (Obama) in the 2008 election cycle." which prompted I think
it was Ruthless to comment that this was "odd" because it included the
University of California.

Here is the skinny on this. There are a variety of liberal web sites
pretty much peddling the same data, all extracted from FEC filings,
which are online. The data is presented in such a way as to make it
seem that the money is coming from the groups listed.

THAT IS A LIE. NOT ONE, I repeat, NOT ONE CENT is going to ANY
candidate from ANY of the organizations, corporations, universities
and so on that are listed. That would be a federal offense, and BOTH
the contributor AND the recipient would be liable for the violation.
(I *believe* corporate funds are allowed to finance certain
*operations* of PAC's, like soliciting employees to join, but NOT the
contributions themselves).

SOME of the money is coming from PACs (Political Action Committees)
associated with the given corporations. These moneys originate with
stockholders and employees of the given corporation *not corporate
funds.* Contributions to these PACs are (supposedly) completely
voluntary.

Corporate PAC's very often contribute to BOTH bourgeois candidates in
a general election, and to several in a primary. With the
contributions a matter of public record, you don't want to take the
risk of being seen as hostile to whoever may be the next
Congresscritter from your district, senator or president.

Which is not to say that many corporate PAC's and the circles that
comprise them don't take sides. They do, but that is more likely to be
reflected in, for example, a pattern of contribution to socalled
leadership PACs set up by congressmen, senators and others,
contributions to various sectoral or ideological PACs, individual
contributions and so on. PAC's contribute to each other in addition to
parties and campaigns, and there are literally thousands of PAC's, so
despite the claims about campaign finance laws, bourgeois interests
still have plenty of ways to launder their contributions. This means
that determining, for example, who the top financial circles in Wall
Street are really backing (if they have a preference) and how much
money they have sent the way of their preferred candidate is not
really possible without insider information.

As for the publicly available data, analyzing the pattern of
contributions has to be done fairly and conscientiously. MANY
corporate PAC's in the current "election cycle" will show up as having
made more contributions to Democrats than Republicans, quite simply
because the primary race in the Republican camp was over quickly, and
involved only a fraction of the money that was spent in the Democrat
contest. A conclusion that Corporations have "swung to the Democrats"
on this basis would be unwarranted.

In addition, the main component of the figures being reported are
those contributions made by individuals employed by those institutions
or corporations. The argument these is that these individual
contributions are also an attempt to buy favorable treatment for the
entity involved from government officials. Since the limit of a given
PAC's contribution to one candidate in the primaries and general
election is $5,000, the big majority of the funds attributed to
corporations aren't coming from them, but from individuals employed by
them. This highlights the importance of "bundlers," fund-raising
people who work different sectors of the bourgeoisie and upper middle
class, and are the backbone of most campaign fund raising.

These individuals often do represent "special interests" but which
money came from which bundler is not reported, only the individual
donor, not who was the intermediary that obtained the donation. But
the campaigns and candidates certainly know what interests backed them
heavily. The implicit idea of the liberal web sites that analyze
donation patterns is that the main interest being represented is
corporate -- and even of the typical campaign that isn't necessarily
100% true all the time.

However, when you have 1.5 million individual donors, as the Obama
campaign has, meaning about 3% of the Democratic Party voters in the
last couple of presidential elections, and perhaps 5% of more of the
hard-core  Democratic Party voter base, the identification of donors
representing the interests of their employers or sectors really breaks
down. And this can be seen in that several large universities are
listed as among the top sources of contributions for Obama, and almost
certainly this did not represent the fruit of an organized campaign
organized by the bourgeois sectors or elements involved in the given
institution. But more generally, Obama's campaign fund raising
advantage has come overwhelmingly from individual contributions over
the Internet, and Obama has placed qualitatively less effort into
traditional fund raising than other candidates and especially Clinton
-- the banquets and other private events where big $ bundlers, and
their lieutenants, interact with the candidate, so the future
officeholder can know who her or his friends are, i.e., what interests
s/he is beholden to.

What the data compiled by the liberal web sites show is that campaign
contributions to Obama are coming from many of the same kinds of
people as usually contribute to campaigns, especially highly
privileged professionals. But an unusually large amount is coming from
smaller contributors (<$200) who are not included in these
calculations. I have seen the claim, but am not sure whether it was
for a given period or overall, that more than half of Obama's funding
has come in contributions of less than $200. And even for the larger
contributions, the evidence suggests a much higher proportion of them
are coming directly from the individuals rather than through the
traditional route of influence-peddling bundlers (finance committee
chairs and members).

Joaquin




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