Which Politicians Are Your Favorite Companies Giving Money To?

Money, Politics

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled that the government can’t ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.

The ruling was based on the free speech principle that even corporations have the right to political speech. In short, what the new law means is that corporations can donate money directly to politicians they support.

It’s worth noting the Supreme Court’s ruling was a 5-4 decision, representing just how divided people are on this issue. Critics of the decision worry that it gives corporations too much power to “buy” candidates and corrupt democracy. President Obama said was “a major victory” for powerful interests (banks, big oil, etc.) who will now drown out the voices of the average American.

With midterm elections just 2 short months away, we’re already starting to see many corporations taking advantage of their new rights by making political contributions to various candidates and causes. And whether you agree with the law or not, the simple fact is that many of the companies you do business with on a regular basis are spending to support or oppose political candidates. In a sense, any time you give a company your business, you too are supporting their politics.

So, just where exactly is your money going? Take a look at the political contributions of these major companies.

Target gives $150,000 to conservative campaign group

Target was the first major corporation to cause a stir with their political contributions. The retailer made a $150,000 donation to conservative campaign group MN Forward. The donation immediately infuriated a number of customers and liberal groups, as they claimed the donation would help anti-gay marriage GOP gubernatorial nominee Tom Emmer.

The campaign donation has been a public relations nightmare for the company, leading to customer boycotts and concerns from gay employees who don’t support the Republican candidate. There was even a hugely popular YouTube video in which a woman cuts up her Target card. This video has been viewed 323,197 times at the time of my writing this.

Best Buy donates $100,000 to MN Forward

Best Buy also came under fire for donating to the same conservative campaign group as Target. The electronics giant gave $100,000 to MN Forward, the political group that has endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer.

On Facebook, a page has been created called “Boycott Best Buy Until They Cease Funding Anti-Gay Politics.” The online group has more than 7,000 members, and they’re spreading the word to encourage shoppers to stop giving business to Best Buy.

Other Minnesota-based companies that contributed to MN Forward include Red Wing Shoes, Polaris, Davisco Foods, Pentair Inc. and Hubbard Broadcasting.

BP contributes millions to both sides of the aisle

Over the past 7 years, BP has donated at least $4.8 million in corporate contributions to various political groups and campaigns. Some of their most generous donations have been to conservative PACs, but they’ve also given plenty to boost the funds of Democratic organizations as well. It’s also worth noting that the company and its employees have given quite a bit to President Obama, with much of it coming during his run for the White House.

Thanks to the recent oil spill disaster, you can expect many politicians to try to distance themselves from BP’s contributions over the coming months in election season. That’s a donation that carries a severe taint with it.

Massey Energy

A group of coal companies are getting together to organize a political funding nonprofit to defeat “anti-coal” Democrats. The most notable company involved is Massey Energy, the owner of the mine where an explosion killed 29 miners back in April.

Keep your eyes open

You can be sure a lot of corporations are still biding their time and feeling their way out in this new political environment. With elections coming up in November, it’s almost a certainty that more companies will step up to the plate and donate to candidates.

If you want to follow the corporate spending, I highly recommend checking out this NYC Public Advocate website. It tracks the donations of all major companies, so you can stay updated on who you favorite companies are supporting with your money.

What are your thoughts on all this? If a company you buy from supports a candidate you’re against, will you stop doing business with them?