A Simple Solution to…

Campaign Finance Reform

“The people of the United States are not blind to the fact that they may be temporarily misled, and that their representatives, legislative and executive, may be mistaken or influenced in their actions by improper motives….”

“Although in our country the Chief Magistrate must almost of necessity be chosen by a party and stand pledged to its principles and measures, yet in official action he should not be the President of a part only, but of the whole people of the United States.”

James K. Polk, 11th President of the United States, 1845-1849

Sightings from The Catbird Seat

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A true democratic society is concerned with the interests of all its people — not just those of a particular race, religion, gender, age, occupation, educational background, economic status, or political party.

– The Catbird

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Here’s a simple solution to campaign finance reform

>> Assign the task of educating the public on the nation’s important social and economic issues – and the candidates’ stands on these issues – to the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Public Affairs.

>> Fund this educational activity through the taxpayers’ $3.00 voluntary check-off contributions, plus all “soft-money” contributions to all political parties.

>> Eliminate all “hard-money” contributions to all candidates – period.

>> To accomplish its task of educating the public, the Department of Education will sponsor debates between candidates, purchase space in newspapers and other print media, establish and maintain sites on the world wide web, and employ other appropriate means to allow ALL candidates for public office — regardless of political party affiliation — EQUAL access and opportunity to present their views and positions on the issues to the American people.

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One more step should be taken by Congress in this reform process:

Once the PEOPLE have made their decisions and have cast their votes, all references to political party affiliation of elected officials should be eliminated in the conduct of the nation’s business. There should be no more references to the “majority” or “minority” parties; to “Democrat” or “Republican” sponsored legislation; to “bi-partisan” legislation, or to “votes along party lines”.

After all, our representatives are elected by WE, THE PEOPLE, to represent WE, THE PEOPLE, not to cater to the special interests of any individual, organization, or political party.

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Finally, the Congress should pass legislation making ALL LOBBYING activities ILLEGAL.

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“There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will be neither a short nor an easy task, but it can be done…Corporate expenditures for political purposes, and especially such expenditures by public-service corporations, have supplied one of the principal sources of corruption in our political affairs.”

– TEDDY ROOSEVELT, 1910, (Two years before he broke from the Republican party to form the Bull-Moose party)


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July 4, 2003

Trading In Favors: Soft money documents imply quid pro quo between donors and politicians

By Alex Knott and Aubrey Bruggeman, The Public i

WASHINGTON, July 2, 2003 — Legislative favors, increased access to federal lawmakers and instructions on how to use loopholes to evade federal contribution limits—-these are just some of the arrangements discussed in recently released documents relating to judicial challenges of a new soft money law, a Center for Public Integrity study has found.

Such situations appear in many of the more than 40,000 documents the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia subpoenaed during the discovery process, which the Center obtained in electronic form for a two-week study.

A document that shows coordination between federal races and state parties is a July 2000 letter from Jack David to Dulce Zahniser, then-director of Team 100 for the Republican National Committee. Team 100 is an exclusive group of people who are responsible for raising at least $100,000 each for the Republican Party. David, who has contributed more than $200,000 to the RNC since 2000, wrote to the RNC regarding his donations to the Republican National State Elections Committee.

“This letter is to request that $25,000 of the money I contributed to the RNSEC be allocated to help the New York Republican Party and Rick Lazzio [sic] defeat Hillary Clinton this fall,” the letter states. “I would be pleased if the RNSEC would give the $25,000 to the NY State Republican Committee for that purpose.”

If the RNC had agreed to David’s request in advance of the donation, such an act would seem to violate federal election laws, which make it illegal for a donor to “earmark” a contribution for transfer to a particular state party.

FEC records reveal that David donated $61,000 to the Republican National State Election Committee on July 6, 2000—-the day before the letter is dated. Just 19 days after the letter, RNSEC shows a $25,000 transfer to the New York Republican Party, a sequence that seems to mirror the situation described in the letter.

Documents similar to Jack David’s letter—-many never previously seen by the public—-reveal the extent to which donors and politicians from both sides of the political spectrum ask for and receive favors in exchange for contributions.

The documents were released after being subpoenaed as evidence in the continuing court confrontations questioning the constitutionality of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, commonly referred to as McCain-Feingold.

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, aimed at reducing special interest financing in federal elections, was passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27, 2002. Prior to its passage, contributions of soft money to state and federal political parties were largely unregulated. While the law has mandated increased limits on soft money donations and restricted some party involvement in elections, the regulation is being challenged in court and was partially struck down. But the United States District Court issued a stay on its decision on May 19th. The McCain-Feingold law will remain in effect at least until September, when the Supreme Court hears the case to decide whether the most sweeping campaign finance laws passed in nearly 30 years will stand.

Legislative Favors

One intriguing document was an April 2000 letter from the former Republican National Committee Finance Chairman Mel Sembler (now the U.S. Ambassador to Italy) to Lodwrick M. Cook, the co-chairman of Global Crossing, tying a large donation to a recently approved merger.

“I was delighted to hear the good news about the merger,” the letter states. “As you recall in our conversation some weeks ago you agreed to upgrade your Team 100 membership to the Regent program ($250,000) when the merger was approved. Thankfully, this has now been approved, so I am taking the liberty of enclosing an invoice for the additional upgrade.”

The Federal Communications Commission approved the merger with Frontier Corporation, the nation’s fifth-largest long-distance telephone company, six months before the letter. The acquisition cost Global $11.2 billion in stock. With 1998 revenue of $2.6 billion Frontier was a serious player in the telecommunications market.

The connections between the Republicans and Global Crossing don’t end there. Lodwrick Cook is one of the trustees of George H. W. Bush’s presidential library; he received the former president’s very first “Points of Light” award; and since 1999 has donated $315,000 to the Republican Party, almost half of which ($150,000) came after the letter and before the 2000 election.

The company also approved a deal where former President Bush spoke on Global Crossing’s behalf and was paid in shares of stock instead of his usual $80,000 speaking fee. On April 21, 1998, Bush acquired 100,000 shares of the company—-four months before it went public. After the IPO, share prices inflated handsomely and Bush sold his shares for $4.5 million. He had good luck: within a month of his last sale, the company’s stock plummeted.

Gary Winnick, the founder and CEO of Global Crossing, also made out well, selling as much as $700 million in stock before the high-tech bubble burst. Soon after Bush’s and Winnick’s sales of the stock, the company’s finances turned sour and questionable accounting practices similar to those of Enron and WorldCom were revealed. In the aftermath of unpaid debts, layoffs and shriveled 401(k) investments, the Bush Administration stepped in to investigate through the SEC and the Justice Department. But even though there were strong allegations of fiscal misconduct, the Justice Department decided not to file any criminal charges.

Other documents show the intimate link between contributions and governmental lobbying. One is an August 2001 letter from then-RNC Chairman and then-Gov. James Gilmore, R-Va., to Max C. Chapman, Jr. the chairman of Gardner Capital Management Corp., a private New York-based investment firm.

“I have forwarded your concerns about the military, stem-cell research, the tax cut and the dredging of the Hudson River over to the White House,” the letter states. Just three sentences later Gilmore asks the Park Avenue business leader to “seriously consider contributing $20,000 in federal dollars this year to the Republican National Committee.”

While many of the letters demonstrate correspondence initiated by lawmakers and party leaders to key contributors, there were also examples of the opposite. In May 1996, before controversial legislation regarding energy deregulation, Entergy CEO Edwin Lupberger wrote a letter asking for Rep. Tom DeLay’s (R-Texas) assistance in the repeal of existing regulations.

The letter begins by mentioning the interaction the two had at a Team 100 meeting. Implicit in this statement is that Lupberger is a large campaign contributor because Team 100 members are expected to donate a minimum of $100,000 to join the club.

“As we briefly discussed, there is an issue before Congress of significant importance to our company and industry—-repeal of the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935,” the letter states. “Your help would be appreciated in urging House Commerce Committee Chairman Tom Bliley and Energy & Power Subcommittee Chairman Dan Schaefer, to act on PUHCA Repeal legislation this year.”

DeLay has also been marred in a recent scandal in which Democrats questioned $56,000 in campaign contributions to groups associated to him and three other GOP lawmakers by Kansas-based energy company, Westar Energy Inc. In an email exchange, company executives Doug Lawrence and Doug Lake discussed their plan to get a “seat at the table” with Republican legislators putting the final touches on the Bush administration’s energy bill.

Recent media reports connecting a quid pro quo between Westar, DeLay, Republican Reps. Joe Barton (Texas) and Billy Tauzin (La.) and Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), stem from executive e-mails suggesting that Tauzin and Barton had solicited the contributions and that Shelby had requested a donation for another candidate. The email does not specifically mention a request from DeLay.

According to recently released documents, Westar Vice President Douglas Lake had already spun the wheels into motion. On May 17, 2002, he sent around a memo outlining “specific contributions on the basis of the budget to specific campaigns.”

Another letter went out in April 1999 from RNC Chairman Jim Nicholson asking Bristol-Myers Squibb Chairman and CEO Charles A. Heimbold Jr. for $250,000 for a two-year “Season Pass” membership. While the letter discusses “forming a pharmaceutical coalition in Washington, D.C.,” it also implies that the RNC had previously passed bills for drug makers (even though the RNC has no such authority).

“We must keep the lines of communication open if we want to continue passing legislation that will benefit your industry,” the letter states. “I think that your leadership on this project will provide the perfect bridge between the RNC and the health care industry.”

While many documents like these allude to the motivations behind such contributions and communications, a recently released internal RNC memo entitled “Why People Give” spells out the connections. “People expect something in return,” states the document used to solicit donations. “When they make a contribution to a candidate, in some cases, they expect that person to do something in return once they get into office.”

But the memo also cautions party development staff against creating the appearance of a quid pro quo. “This is one thing to watch out for,” continues the RNC internal document. “Never promise anything in return for a contribution. It may come back to haunt you.”

Statements like this may explain why many of the documents related to the BCRA case allude to legislative favors but never explicitly state any direct tie between contributions and governmental action.

While Republicans appear in many questionable letters and depositions in recent years, there are an equal number of suspect situations implicating Democrats dating back to the mid-90s during the Clinton Administration.

One such “confidential” memo is from Martha Phipps, Democratic National Committee deputy chief of staff, who proposed new opportunities for co-ordination in order for the party to raise “an aggressive goal of $40 million” during 1994. Among the 10 initiatives set forth are making available “Two reserved seats on Air Force I and II trips,” “six to eight spots at all white House events” and “Better coordination on appointments to Boards and Commissions.”

Other call sheets and internal memoranda show the Democratic Party’s propensity to solicit donations based on its legislative agenda and rarely seen connection to oil corporations. One such call sheet dated November 13, 1995, instructs a caller to ask British Petroleum for a contribution of $85,000, with an attached note providing the reason for the solicitation.

The [Clinton] Administration helped them out on two major issues this year,” the DNC call sheet states. “The first dealing with deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico; and the other, ANS (Alaska North Slope trade), dealing with oil imports from foreign-owned companies.”

Other similar 1995 call sheets show comparable connections to companies like Texaco, where DNC callers are instructed to tell how “the President helped out the Oil Industry by supporting them on drilling issues,” before they ask for a donation of $35,000. Another asks Panhandle Eastern for $10,000, and states that the vice-chairman of the company had attended a meeting with President Clinton.

A Question of Access

While some donors have made numerous donations with the expectations of increased access to federal lawmakers or greater legislative considerations, others have shown contempt for such solicitations. During recent depositions, Peter Buttenwieser, who has contributed more than $7 million to Democratic candidates and party committees, said he was put off by recent fundraising overtures from DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe.

“Terry basically told me that if I gave $50,000 by the end of the year, he could get me into that lunch” with President Clinton, said Buttenwieser, President of Buttenwieser & Associates, an education consulting company that evaluates inner-city schools and suggests improvements. “I was offended. I declined, and not long afterwards I wrote him a letter saying I thought this was a quid pro quo thing, and that I really hated that kind of thing.” In media interviews, McAuliffe has denied the existence of any quid pro quo.

But a link between money from Buttenwieser and access to federal lawmakers would be by no means unusual, according to the documents used in the BCRA case. In fact, an internal RNC memo states that a reason people give to the party is for “Access. People give to political candidates because they want the ability to have their phone call returned by this person.”

Other donors such as Alan G. Hassenfeld, CEO of Hasbro, detailed the games played in Washington when it comes to initiating contact between contributors and federal lawmakers. “Donors know that if they give $100,000 in soft money to the Republicans or $100,000 to the Democrats, that will entitle them to some type of access,” said Hassenfeld, who has made close to $70,000 in donations to federal elections and party committees. “They are not concerned with how that money is used. Instead, many are concerned with access, which they feel allows them to make their cases to federal decision makers and even to influence legislation.”

Other documents connect large corporations with access to federal lawmakers through recent fundraising events. During the RNC’s 2001 Gala, company executives who gave $20,000 or more could request which Republican lawmakers and cabinet secretaries they wanted to dine with.

For instance, MBNA, the largest independent credit card lender in the world, which has donated $1.1 million to party and candidate committees since 1999 and $333,000 to George W. Bush, making the company Bush’s second-largest career contributor, requested that its industry heads be seated with senators Robert Bennett, R-Utah; Rick Santorum, R-Pa.; John Ensign, R-Nev.; John Kyl, R-Ariz.; and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

Another document relating to the same event lists Reliant Energy’s wishes to have federal lawmakers who regulate energy issues at its table. The VIP requests for the $38 billion energy company included House Committee on Energy and Commerce chairman Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La.; Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska; Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla.; Sen. Larry Craig, R- Idaho; as well as Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Interior Secretary Gale Norton.

Access was also the theme of an October 1998 letter from RNC chairman Jim Nicholson to Phil Anschutz, the founder and largest share holder of Qwest Communications, which is under investigation by the Security and Exchange Commission for questionable accounting practices.

In the letter Nicholson thanks Anschutz for an additional $100,000 donation and hand-writes on the bottom of the letter: “I hope your meeting with [Sen.] Trent Lott [R-Miss.] was productive. Thanks Phil!”

Also sought after is access to members of the Cabinet. In one letter to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Robert Bennett asks the Secretary to make a special appearance for a fundraising event.

Dr. Michael Walsh of the Toledo Hospital has committed to raise $100,000 in the Toledo area both this year and next year,” states the August 2001 letter. “He has personal[ly] requested your aid in helping him reach this tremendous goal. Labor is a top issue for Toledo and the Lucas County area.”

Jumping through campaign finance loopholes

Though some letters deal with situations of legislative favors and increased access to lawmakers, other documents released through discovery detail strategies to coordinate fundraising efforts and sometimes discuss ways of transferring and diverting contributions in ways that could violate federal laws.

One letter from then-Congressman Wayne Allard, R- Colo., now a U.S. Senator, tells a contributor how to help his campaign by making donations to his state party committee. The August 1996 correspondence to donor Collis P. Chandler Jr. states that Colorado GOP Chairman Don Bain had assured Allard that the party “is 100 percent behind [his] campaign.”

“Under federal election laws, however, you are at the limit of what you can directly contribute to my campaign,” the letter goes on to say. “At the breakfast, Don and I will also discuss how you can further help my campaign by assisting the Colorado Republican Party. As I mentioned, the Colorado GOP will play an enormous role for me and other candidates in the general election race.”

While the correspondence appears to be generated from stationery belonging to Congressman Allard, the letter says that it was “Paid for by the Colorado Republican Party.”

– Researchers Sasha Leonhardt and Daniel Lathrop contributed to this report. To write a letter to the editor for publication, e-mail letters@publicintegrity.org. Please include a daytime phone number.

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December 7, 2002


Contributions linked to access, documents show

By Sharon Theimer, Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Political party officials and the donors they solicit have routinely linked big contributions to government business, from merger approvals to meetings with top officials, according to previously sealed court documents that offer a window into fund raising in Washington.

“As you recall in our conversation some weeks ago, you agreed to upgrade your Team 100 membership to the Regent program ($250,000) when the merger was approved,” Republican Party fund-raiser Mel Sembler wrote in 2000 to the Chief of the now-bankrupt Global Crossing telecommunications company, which already had given $100,000.

“Thankfully, this has now been approved, so I am taking the liberty of enclosing an invoice for the additional upgrade,” Sembler added in one of dozens of fund-raising memos the political parties turned over to a court hearing a challenge of the nation’s new campaign-finance law. . . .

The documents span from the Clinton years of the 1990s to the beginning of the Bush administration and detail how party officials often cater to donors and lace their pitches for money with promises of meetings with top officials.

“Gave 100K last year and 20K this year. Ask her to give 80K more this year for lunch with Potus on Oct. 27th,” said a 1995 memo for then-Democratic Party chairman Don Fowler, urging that donor Denise Rich be solicited for money before attending a lunch with President Bill Clinton. Rich’s name later surfaced in both the Clinton fund-raising and pardon controversies.

“These documents show how the game is played in Washington, and you have to be able to pay to play,” said Kent Cooper, co-founder of PoliticalMoneyLine, a non-artisan Web site that tracks campaign finance, and a former Federal Election Commission official. “We expect these documents will trigger further investigations.”. . .

Drug companies, some of the more active political donors, were a frequent subject of party memos.

In a 1999 letter, then-RNC Chairman Jim Nicholson wrote Charles Heimbold, then chief executive of Briston-Myers Squibb, to discuss the company’s plans to form an industry coalition to lobby for issues important to drug companies. . . .

Nicholson enclosed a copy of the RNC’s health-care proposals and asked Heimbold for his suggestions.

In the next paragraph, Nicholson encouraged Bristol-Myers – already a GOP donor – to give $250,000 to join the Republican committee’s new “Season Pass” program, which offered donors “premier seating” at the RNC’s fund-raising gals and “VIP benefits” at the Republican presidential nominating convention in 2000.

In all, Bristol-Myers gave $291,200 to the RNC in the 1999-2000 election cycle, according to figures complied by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political contributions.

Heimbold donated $50,000 to the RNC in October 2000. He was named ambassador to Sweden by President Bush last year.

When Microsoft Corp., a $100,000-plus donor to Republicans, planned to attend the party’s major fund-raising gala in 2000, it asked to be seated next to “Sen. (Paul) Coverdell or leadership, Commerce Committee or Judiciary Committee,” according to a GOP memo. At the time, the company was battling a major antitrust case that threatened to split the company.

In a note to a Dow Chemical official, the director of the RNC’s “Team 100” donor club, Henry Barbour, sent thanks for a contribution and offered to arrange a meeting for Dow executives with then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga.; Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan.; and GOP chairman Haley Barbour.

A 1995 Democratic National Committee fund-raising call sheet for Fowler and Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn, scheduled a call to Texaco lobbyist, Jim Groninger.

“Reason for call: Please ask Jim to become a Trustee and contribute $35,000. Additional notes: The President helped out the Oil Industry by supporting them on drilling issues in the Gulf of Mexico. The bill passed the House on Tuesday,” the call sheet said.

The DNC sought $85,000 from British Petroleum in a November 1995 call: “BP has given $66,000 to Republican committees this year. The Administration helped them out on two major issues this year,” the sheet said.

Spokesmen for Texaco-Chevron, Dow Chemical and Bristol-Myers Squibb declined to comment. A Global Crossing spokeswoman was pursuing company comment.

The Commission on Presidential Debates – From the Commission’s website:

“The Commission on Presidential Debates was established in 1987 to ensure that debates, as a permanent part of every general election, provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners. Its primary purpose is to sponsor and produce debates for the U.S. presidential and vice presidential candidates and to undertake research and educational activities relating to the debates. The organization, which is a nonprofit, NONPARTISAN [emphasis added] corporation, sponsored all the debates in 1988, 1992, and 1996.”

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In the 1996 presidential elections, the Commission refused to allow Reform Party candidate Ross Perot to appear in the candidate debates. Perot sued to be allowed to participate. He lost.

In the 2000 debates, the Commission’s candidate selection criteria included: 1) Candidates must be constitutionally eligible to become president, 2) They must be on enough state ballots to have a mathematical chance to win in the Electoral College, and 3) They must average at least 15% support in nationwide polls by ABC News/Washington Post; CBS News/New York Times, NBC News/Wall Street Journal; CNN/USA Today/Gallup; and Fox News/Opinion Dynamics.

According to the commission, the rules were designed to make sure that only candidates who have a realistic chance to win the presidency are included in the debates.

Under the 15% “opinion poll” rule, neither the Reform Party candidate Patrick Buchannan, nor the Green Party candidate, Ralph Nader, were allowed to participate in the debates. Nader wasn’t even allowed in the debate hall as a spectator, even though he had a ticket.

The Moral of the Story: He who makes the rules WINS!

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In their Pro/Con arguments on whether the Reform Party candidate should be allowed to participate in the debates, VOTE.COM presented the following PRO argument: . . .

Exclusionary rules only benefit the establishment – The Reform Party is nationally recognized and it receives federal campaign funds. Yet for reasons beyond justification, the Commission on Presidential Debates has recommended rules that could exclude all but Democrats and Republicans from the general election debates.

Under the recommendations, a candidate who wants to be included in the debates must average 15 percent support in national polls to participate. Yet according to widely respected University of Virginia Political Scientist Larry Sabato, the reliability of such data is questionable.

“Polling is not that precise,” Sabato told the Associated Press. “Even when you average five polls you don’t eliminate the individual margins of error.”

Polling shouldn’t determine if voters should get the opportunity to learn about their options. Buchanan campaign co-chair Pat Choate points out that no third party Presidential candidate has ever been at 15 percent in September prior to the debates. “The only way that Perot rose above that level was to be in the 1992 debates. Prior to the debates he was at 7 percent. After, he got more than 19 percent of the vote.”

Former Democratic National Chairman Paul Kirk and former Republican National Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf head the Commission on Presidential Debates. By design, it seems slighted in favor of a two-party system.

“Let’s be plain,” says Reform presidential candidate Pat Buchanan. “This is nothing but a Beltway conspiracy by the two establishment parties to corner the market forever on the presidency of the United States.”

Reform Party chairman Jack Gargan agrees. “They picked the wrong time to play exclusionary politics,” he says. “The number of voters in claiming to be ‘independent’ is on the rise in our country … If this set of protocols stand, we might as well box up this gift we call democracy and send it back postage due.

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The Catbird, being curious by nature, decided to see what other information could be found about this nonprofit, nonpartisan, tax-exempt organization. It turns out that the CPD’s creation came about as the result of the recommendations of two groups:

1) The Commission on National Elections, under the direction of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

2) The 20th Century Fund.

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Findings of The Commission on National Elections on Presidential Forums

In its report, released in April 1986, the CNE included in its “official findings”:

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So just what, or who, is this Commission on National Elections?

At the time of its Report in 1986, the Commission Co-Chairs were Melvin R. Laird and Robert S. Struass.

There were 38 members on the Commission, and included such public-minded partisans as: Lloyd Bentsen, Thornton F. Bradshaw, Tony Coelho, Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., Vernon E. Jordon, Jr., and Robert Rubin.

The Staff Director was John F. Kennedy.

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20th Century Fund Recommendations For Presidential Debates

Excerpts from a Twentieth Century Fund Paper, 1987:

Televised presidential debates provide a unique opportunity for Americans to see and hear the candidates for the presidency, and it is an opportunity that millions of Americans take advantage of. …

Therefore, we offer the following recommendations: . . .

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And just who were the patriots that made up this 20th Century Fund group?

Well, included in its 31 members were none other than Ron Brown (Democratic National Committee Chairman), Walton Chalmers (Democratic National Committee), Walter Mondale (Former Vice President), and David F. Norcross (Republican National Committee).

Members representing any third party were conspicuous, as they say, by their absence.

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Based on the “official findings” of these two groups, the Commission on Presidential Debates was hatched and immediately seized CONTROL of the Presidential debates for the benefit of the two major parties.

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From the Commission’s own website: . . . The CPD is not affiliated with any political party. It does not lobby, take positions on political issues, or report on elections. The CPD accepts no money from the government or political parties and it finances the debates entirely through private contributions. . . .

So far, so good? Well, let’s just take a look at the public-spirited sponsors of these debates in the 1992 and 1996 elections:

1992 National Sponsors

AT&T; Atlantic Richfield; Sheldon S. Cohen (Morgan, Lewis & Bockius); Dun & Bradstreet; Ford Motor Company; Hallmark; IBM; The Marjorie Kovler Fund; J.P. Morgan & Co.; Philip Morris Companies; Prudential.

1996 National Sponsors

Anheuser-Busch; Sheldon S. Cohen (Morgan, Lewis & Bockius); Dun & Bradstreet; Joyce Foundation; Lucent Technologies; The Marjorie Kovler Fund; Philip Morris Companies; Sara Lee Corp; Sprint; Twentieth Century Fund.

Hm-m-m-m. . . .

* * *And, just who were the noble leaders of the Commission on Presidential Debates for the 2000 election?

Well, the Commission was co-chaired by Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr. (who served as Chairman of the Republican Party during Ronald Reagan’s tenure, and is currently the President and CEO of the American Gaming Association.), and by Paul G. Kirk, Jr.

Honorary Co-Chairmen were Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

The Board of Directors were Clifford Alexander, Jr., Howard Buffett, Senator Paul Coverdell, John Danforth, Rep. Jennifer Dunn, Antonia Hernandez, Caroline Kennedy, Newton Minow and Dorothy Ridings.

The Executive Director was Janet H. Brown.

Lippo Group – Indonesian conglomerate owned principally by the Riady family.

From Betrayal How the Clinton Administration Undermined American Security, by Bill Gertz:

Who was the biggest contributor to the Clinton-Gore ticket in 1992? Not a corporation, not a labor union, not a Hollywood mogul, but Indonesian businessman James Riady and his wife, who gave $450,000 to elect Bill Clinton. . . . During the final weeks of the campaign, the Riady family, its associates, and executives at Riady companies gave an additional $600,000 to the DNC and Democratic state parties. . . .

The patriarch of the business empire is Mochtar Riady . . . Of his three sons, James was a permanent resident of the United States, Stephen was educated here, and Andrew worked in California . . .

All, however, have fled the United States. Any Riady employee with detailed knowledge of the family’s activities in the United Stated has likewise stolen away in the night. Even James Riady’s secretary has vanished. Only John Huang, the family’s former U.S. operative, remains in the United States — and he has pleaded the Fifth Amendment . . .

The Riady empire, centered on its Lippo Group, is, as one financial analysis in Jakarta describes it, “a carefully balanced house of cards.”

Newsweek has noted, “Moving cash around the globe in tangled webs of transactions has always been the Riady way,” and the Asian Wall Street Journal accuses the Riadys of “ramping” — buying large numbers of shares in their own companies in order to support prices. . . .

In 1977, Mochtar Riady tried to buy the National Bank of Georgia. He failed, but one of the brokers in the deal was Jackson Stephens of Little Rock, Arkansas, who tried to interest a disappointed Riady in joining Stephens, Inc., one of America’s largest private investment banks … and one with which the Riadys would have an extended relationship, as we will see. Mochtar Riady agreed, and his son James, then aged twenty, arrived to intern at Stephens, Inc…

Through Jackson Stephens, James Riady met a rising politician, Arkansas Attorney General Bill Clinton. Thus began a friendship that has lasted twenty years, and has spread a web of intrigue, financial corruption, and foreign influence into American government. . . .

The Democratic PartyFrom Year of the RatHow Bill Clinton Compromised U.S. Security for Chinese Cash . . .

Even if composed of hundred dollar bills, $175,000 in cash makes quite a bundle. We can only imagine what went through the minds of Treasury Department officials as Macau criminal syndicate figure Ng Lapseng sailed through the San Francisco airport on June 20, 1994, after declaring that amount of money– in cash.

Within two days Ng was dining at the White House mess with presidential aide and Democratic Party fund-raiser Mark Middleton. Later that evening Ng and his associate Charlie Trie would make honored guest appearances at a DNC-sponsored Presidential Gala. . . .

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In late 1996 and throughout 1997 … we learned that President Clinton was personally involved in raising and channeling millions of dollars in Democratic Party contributions to his own reelection campaign … The Democratic Party accepted millions of dollars in illegal contributions from foreign nationals, many of whom met personally with the President.

Vice President Albert Gore, Jr., spoke at a fund-raising event at a Buddhist monastery in Los Angeles, and everyone from a Columbian drug trafficker to Chinese arms dealers passed through the White House, obtaining access for cash.

Separately, from January 1995 to August 1996, the White House hosted 103 coffees– attended by 1,544 people seeking “face time” with the President, the Vice President, and their spouses– who collectively contributed at least $26.4 million to the Democratic Party for the 1996 election.

Besides being rewarded with overnight stays at the White House and Camp David, in 1995 and 1996, major Democratic Party donors and fund-raisers rode on Air Force One, Marine One, Air Force Two, and Marine Two (the latter two are the Vice President’s aircraft) more than 300 times.

In addition, both the President and Vice President solicited campaign contributions by telephone from the White House … At first Gore said that he dialed for dollars “on a few occasions”; he later acknowledged that he did it 56 times. This was the potentially criminal matter that produced the now infamous statement by the Vice President: “My counsel advises me that there is no controlling legal authority or case that says that there was any violation of law whatsoever in the manner in which I asked people to contribute to our reelection campaign.” . . .

Sadly, Gore was right. None of this unprecedented activity, which certainly had the stench of misconduct and impropriety, was seriously prosecuted by the Justice Department. Only the small fry were pursued. Attorney General Janet Reno steadfastly refused to name an independent counsel to investigate the various 1996 campaign finance allegations.

And when the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee attempted to investigate the 1996 election more than 45 potential witnesses fled the United States or invoked the Fifth Amendment….

To add insult to injury, the following year Americans suffered through Monica Mania, ending with the first impeachment of an elected President in U.S. history. … In 1998, we reached the lowest point in our nation’s political discourse and decorum, including the most blatant, look-you-in-the-eye-with-a-straight-face lying by a sitting President ever. . . .

And let us not forget that this whole sordid episode got its start with campaign contributions: Lewinsky became a White House intern in the first place because a friend of her family had given more than $330,000 to the Democratic Party….

For More: Tenacious Tentacles

For More: Sen. Dan Burton’s Campaign Finance Reform Committee

For More: John Chung Tells About Chinese Campaign Donations

For More: The Buying of the President

The Lobbyists – From Washington on $10 Million a DayHow Lobbyists Plunder the Nation:


Lobbyists and the Destruction of Democracy

When Fortune published its 1997 list of the nation’s top 500 corporations, the magazine could barely restrain its exuberance. The previous year had been “extraordinary” with regard to profitability, Fortune said, as companies “restructured, reegineered, refinanced, downsized, laid off, split up, and merged their way to prosperity.” . . .

For business and the wealthy, these past few years truly have been the best of times. Profits at Fortune 500 firms rose by 23.3% in 1997, after climbing by 13.4% the previous year.

Salaries for top managers are also soaring. Business Weeksays executive pay is “Out of Control.” The magazine reports that the average salary and bonus for CEOs at the nation’s biggest firms rose by 39% in 1996, to $2.3 million. Total compensation, which includes retirement benefits, incentive plans and stock option packages, was up 54%, to $5.7 million.

Corporate America’s hired help didn’t do nearly as well. Workers’ salaries rose about 3% in 1996, leaving average compensation for CEOs at 209 times higher than that of factory workers.

Meanwhile, the wealthy are paying less and less to the treasury in the form of taxes. . .

Corporations are also avoiding tax payments. Two loopholes Congress provided to companies with operations overseas– the foreign tax credit and tax deferral of foreign income– cost the treasury about $24 billion per year. . . .

Huge corporate profits and low taxes for the wealthy do indeed result from a “favorable economic climate,” but there’s nothing magical about it, as Fortune would have you believe.

The politics behind the favorable climate are designed by politicians who are dependent on cash from Corporate America to finance their political careers. The deluge of business dollars– in 1996, the parties and their candidates raised $2.1 billion, an average of $5.75 million every day— means that elected leaders are sure to implement policies designed to fatten their sponsors’ bottom lines.

The link between campaign donations and political policy was brought into sharp focus by the campaign finance scandals that erupted during the 1996 campaign. Even jade observers were started by the Clinton administration’s selling of the Lincoln bedroom to the highest bidder, and its organizing of White House coffee klatsches to reward donors and encourage them to make additional contributions.

But political contributions are only one way that big business wins favors in Washington. …

Understanding how the capital works, and how business prospers here, requires a trip through the world of beltway lobbying and a review of the vast army of hired guns working at the behest of Corporate America.

Dollar for dollar, lobbying is a better investment than campaign contributions– one reason business spends far more on the former than on the latter.

In 1996, Philip Morris coughed up $19.6 million for lobbying programs vs. $4.2 million for campaign donations (making it the leader in both categories). The same pattern holds true with other firms.

For 1996, Georgia Pacific spent $8.9 million for lobbying and handed out $527,000 in political money. Corresponding figures for AT&T are $8.4 million vs. $1.8 million; for Phizer, $8.3 million vs. $775,000; for Boeing, $5.2 million vs. $770,000; for ARCO, $4.3 million vs. $1.4 million; for Lockheed, $3.5 million vs. $1.26 million; for FedEx, $3.1 million vs. $1.9 million; for Dow Chemical $1.5 million vs. $578,000.

In addition to in-house efforts, most big corporations spend lavishly for outside lobbying firms. Lockheed, for example, retains at least two dozen beltway lobby shops to supplement its own efforts, while FedEx has an additional 10 firms on retainer. In 1996, Boeing hired seven outside lobby shops for the sole purpose of pushing renewed Most Favored Nation trade status for China, paying them a combined total of at least $160,000 for their efforts.

While corporate lobbying has long been a major force in American politics, it has been greatly transformed during the past few decades. Today, many efforts involve stealth lobbying– the chief tactic here is mobilizing fake “grassroots” campaigns– or with indirect methods, such as buying research from friendly “think tanks” in order to influence Congress and public opinion.

All of this makes calculating corporate lobbying expenditures nearly impossible, though it’s safe to say that lobbying has now become a multi-billion dollar-per-year industry. . . .

When you consider the enormous benefits bestowed on Corporate America by the White House and Congress, the big sums companies spend to win favors are revealed as chump change. Lockheed’s combined expenditures on lobbying and campaign contributions were about $5 million in 1996. That same year, Lockheed’s lobbyists, with help from other arms makers, won approval for the creation of a new $15 billion government fund that will underwrite foreign weapon sales.

In 1996, Microsoft spent less than $2 million for its combined lobbying and campaign contribution expenditures (the former accounted for more than two-thirds of that amount). The following year, Congress awarded the company tax credits worth hundreds of millions of dollars for the sale of licenses to manufacture its software programs overseas. . . .

It is indisputable … that corporate citizens who retain lobbyists have an enormous advantage in Washington over the regular ones who merely vote. Tommy Boggs, perhaps Washington’s best known influence peddler, charges $550 per hour for his services. That’s a drop in the bucket to Philip Morris, but Boggs’ rate would eat up the average salary earner’s entire annual income after a mere 43 hours of lobbying activity.

That lobbying has corrupted the political system is no secret. During his 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton promised to “break the stranglehold the special interests have on our elections and the lobbyists have on our government.”

Such promises (like many others the president made) were forgotten as soon as the election votes were counted. Clinton picked Vernon Jordan, a top lobbyist and one of Washington’s consummate political insiders, to head his presidential transition team. Among those selected for top administration jobs were Ron Brown, a former colleague of Tommy Boggs at the firm of Patton Boggs; Mickey Kantor of the powerhouse firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips; and Howard Paster, a former lobbyist for oil companies, banks and weapons makers. . . .

Republicans criticize Clinton for his coziness with special interests, but they maintain the same intimate relationships with corporate lobbyists. After winning control of Congress in 1994, the GOP house leadership met weekly with “The Thursday Group,” a pack of lobbyists and activists who helped plot legislative and media strategy on the “Contract With America”. Included in this elite troupe were hired guns representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, and Americans for Tax Reform. . . .

* * *

Back in 1993, the hottest political issue in Washington was health care. President Clinton called the American system the “costliest and most wasteful” in the world and promised that when he was through, the American people would be able to stand tall and say, “Your government has the courage, finally, to take on the health care profiteers and make health care affordable for every family.”

The public would have enthusiastically supported a frontal assault on the health care industry …

The public, though, was largely excluded from the debate in Washington, which was dominated by the “health care profiteers” that Clinton had pledged to attack. A report from the Center for Public Integrity found that some 660 groups shelled out more than $100 million to thwart reform between 1993 and 1994.

About one-quarter of that amount took the form of political donations to members of Congress. A good chunk of the rest was paid to hundreds of lobbying and public relations firms that were hired to influence the health care debate.

At least 80 lobbyists working the issue were former members of Congress or the executive branch. William Gradison was a member of Congress on Sunday and head of the Health Insurers Association of America (HIAA)– a trade group of 270 insurance companies and creator of the infamous “Harry and Louise” TV ads– on Monday. The beltway firm Powell Tate was hired by Bristol-Myers Squibb, RJR Nabisco, T2 Medical Inc; Pharmacia & Upjohn, and Searle. For $2 million, according to an internal memorandum, Powell Tate would “sow doubt” about Clinton’s assaults on drug makers and his early calls for price controls on the industry. …

Since average citizens– including nearly 40 million Americans without health care coverage– were not heard from, talk of comprehensive health care reform soon faded. . . .

* * *

The same divide between public opinion and political power can be seen across the board.

People earning less than $22,600 a year outnumber people earning more than $246,000 per year by 40 to 1, but in 1997 Congress passed a plan that reduced the average tax payment for those in the latter category by $16,000, while increasing annual taxes for those in the former by $19.

With the end of the Cold War, most Americans hoped for a “peace dividend” in the form of reduced spending for the military and more money for social programs. Yet, year after year, Congress and the White House continue to lard the Pentagon with hundreds of billions of dollars while cutting social expenditures to the bone. Welfare programs have been eliminated so that Cold War relics such as Northrop’s B-2 bomber can be preserved.

Such outcomes are predictable given the overwhelming influence exerted on the political system by Corporate America’s hired guns. Indeed, the American political system is now presided over by lobbyists: they organize fund-raisers and otherwise keep lawmakers supplied with campaign cash. They open doors for clients at the White House and government agencies.

Because many formerly served in government, they know the rules and how to bend them. . . .

The Media From If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote, They Would Have Given Us Candidates:

Author Jim Hightower describes a Sept. 1998 forum convened by the New York University School of Law, titled “Strengthening Democracy in the Global Economy”:

The dialogue, rather pathetically, was between the globalization establishment and the globalization establishment — Bill and Hillary were there, England’s Clinton clone Tony Blair was perkily present, Wall Street execs were prominently arrayed, media barons were there . . .

Not present were the people who actually are fighting for democracy in the anti-democratic global economy that this crowd has done so much to build. Nonetheless, the show went on, with some thirty television cameras and all the right newspapers covering it as though something real were happening.

Luckily, the iconoclastic Lewis Lapham, editor of Harper’s magazine, wandered into this gathering of soft-headed and soft-handed establishmentarians and was there when the one discordant note of the day was hit. It went unreported, except later in Lapham’s own column…

Until the “incident,” Lewis wrote, the proceedings were going according to script. He observed that the panelists were expert at the decorous, somnolent mouthing of all the approved conventional wisdoms of the moment, including the self-reassuring line that the recent untidiness in Asia, where the work of the global schemers in this very room had come spectacularly unglued, was not their fault or the fault of the scheme itself. No, no, no — it was the crude implementation of the scheme by Asia’s own governmental leaders and bankers, don’t you see … Lapham likened the tone of the dialogue to “the murmur of contented bees.”

But then Laura Tyson spoke up unexpectedly and out of turn. The former head of Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors, she has now retreated to the security of academia, where she apparently has reclaimed her own voice. As Lapham describes the unusual moment, she “interrupted the discussion to observe that the heavy capital flows that had drowned the Asian economies didn’t come from Asia. They came from Europe and the United States.”

“What we are talking about here,” she said, “is greed . . . stupidity, cowardice, and greed . . . about investors in London and Paris and New York seizing the prey of easy profits and then, when the luck went bad, seeking to transfer their markers to a government . . . about privatizing the gains, socializing the losses.”

Wow! Wonder why that outburst didn’t make the nightly news?

Could it be because General Electric (which owns NBC), Westinghouse (which owns CBS), Disney (which owns ABC), NewsCorporation (which owns Fox), and Time Warner (which owns CNN) are all heavily into globalization schemes of their own and don’t need any public questioning of the underlying correctness of the concept that their news networks have pushed as an absolute truth — especially criticism from an insider? . . .

Not only did the only newsworthy comment of the day fail to get a single second of airtime, it also failed to get a single response at this so-called dialogue. Lewis Lapham completes the story: “The distinguished company didn’t pursue Ms. Tyson’s line of argument. A gentleman associated with Goldman Sachs coughed discreetly into his microphone, Hillary Clinton smiled at a television camera, two media hierarchs adjusted their ties, and the murmuring resumed.”

* * *From Derailing Democracy: . . . It has been almost 40 years since President Eisenhower, in his final address to the nation before leaving office in 1961, issued a rather extraordinary warning to the American people that the country “must guard against unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Following the same course that virtually every other major industry has in the last two decades, a relentless series of mergers and corporate takeovers has consolidated control of the media into the hands of a few corporate behemoths. The result has been that an increasingly agenda has been sold to the American people by a massive, multi-tentacled media machine that has become, for all intents and purposes, a propaganda organ of the state. . . .

And it is certainly true that by all outward appearances the United States does appear to have the very epitome of a free press. . . . Yet behind this picture of plurality there are clear warning signs that an increasingly incestuous relationship exists between the media titans and the corporate military powers that Eisenhower so feared.

For example, the number-one purveyor of broadcast news in this country– NBC, with both MSNBC and CNBC under its wing, as well as NBC news and a variety of “news magazines”– is now owned and controlled by General Electric, one of the nation’s largest defense contractors.

Is it not significant that as GE’s various media subsidiaries predictably lined up to cheerlead the use of U.S. military force in Kosovo, it was at the same time posting substantial profits from the sale of the high tech tools of modern warfare it so shamelessly glorifies? . . .

Equally alarming is that those viewers choosing to change channels to CNN, the reigning king of the cable news titans, were treated to the surreal daily spectacle of watching Christiane Amapour, who is the wife os State Department mouthpiece James Rubin, analyze her husband’s daily press briefings, as though she could objectively respond to the mounds of disinformation spewing forth from the man with whom she shares her morning coffee. Were it to occur elsewhere, would this not be denounced as symptomatic of a state-run press? . . .

We all know that ambitious reporters are driven by an obsessive desire to get “the scoop.” Does not the mere existence of literally thousands of print and broadcast news sources, all keeping their eyes on the Pulitzer Prize, provide ipso facto proof of a free press? Does it not guarantee that all the news that merits reporting will arrive on our doorstep each morning in a relatively objective form?

This is a perfectly logical argument, yet there is substantial evidence that suggests that competition does not in itself overcome the interests of the corporate media.

For example, while saturation coverage is given to such non-news events as the premier of a new Star Wars movie, there has not been a single American media source reporting the fact that the first successful human clones have been created, despite the staggering implications of such a scientific milestone. Surely a press motivated by competition to break the big story would have stumbled upon this one by now, especially considering that as of this writing, more than a year has passed since the world was blessed with the first human clone, courtesy of an American biotechnology firm (American Cell Technology).

Of course, this could be due not to media suppression, but to the simple fact that the press failed to uncover this story. However … this is far from being the only newsworthy event that the American media have failed to take note of, as evidenced throughout this book. It also fails to explain why the British press seem to have had little trouble unearthing this particular story, or why the U.S. news media continued to ignore the issue even after it had appeared in print in the U.K. Had this story been aired by our own press corps, it surely would have received an overwhelmingly negative response. This is, no doubt, the very reason that this story, as well as countless others, has failed to make its American debut. . . .

* * *

“You know the one thing that is wrong with this country? Everyone gets a chance to have their fair say.”

President William J. Clinton

* * *“The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media.”

Former CIA Director William Colby

The Money Men – From The Money Men, by Jeffrey H. Birnbaum: . . . If you assume that campaign money is so distasteful that you don’t want to hear any more about it, you’re closing your mind to one of the most fundamental and most fascinating stories in American politics. It’s okay to be outraged– more than okay. But it’s wrong to be so disgusted that you don’t want to read another word.

Take, for example, the real-life picture we should have of our elected officials. It’s wrong to think of them sitting studiously through boring congressional hearings or making speeches to Rotary Club luncheons. Think of them, instead, in windowless offices grubbing for money almost every spare moment they get. Fund-raising is so essential to their reelections yet takes so much time that politicians have invented a virtual science of efficient solicitation.

Here’s the typical scene: The lawmaker or would-be lawmaker sits at a desk surrounded by telephones. Aides seated nearby (there are usually 2 or 3 aides, but I’ve heard about instances involving as many as 8) dial up contributors and stay on the line until the would-be fund giver comes on. Then they put that person on hold until the lawmaker gets to their line. The politician is thus able to move seamlessly from one begging session to another, and groveling can go on nonstop.

So there’s a picture for the ages: democracy on hold, literally.

Here’s another one: Around a conference table in the suite of the Speaker of the House … a dozen lobbyists and trade-association executives plot strategy with the highest-ranking lawmakers in Congress. This isn’t an occasional meeting. It happens every week. On Thursday. At 11 AM. It even has a title: the Thursday Group. . . .

The point is that money men are players. They aren’t dark figures lurking in the background, plotting political intrigue. They are central to the drama. They make a difference in the way laws are made and implemented. Without them, the politicians wouldn’t be politicians. And they insist on, and invariably get, politicians’ attention. That’s the way it works. . . .

~ ~ ~

Money, money everywhere.

But not all of it carries the same weight. And not all of it goes to candidates. The laws and rules that govern political fund-raising are many and peculiar. They also are largely ignored. . . .

At the federal level, the most that any person can donate to a candidate is $1,000 per election. Political-action committees (PACs), which are amalgams of individuals, can give $5,000. But that’s just the start. Individuals, labor unions, and corporations can give as much as they want to political parties.

That’s the so-called soft money or, more appropriately, sewer money. This money, in effect, is used to make a mockery of the limits on direct giving to candidates. Think of it as legal cheating. . . .

We live, then, in a new era: the Greed Era.

The candidate or interest group with the largest treasury has a massive advantage. As a candidate, the fuller your bank account, the higher your chance of victory in political skirmishes. But, like the cold war, these aren’t one sided battles. . . . The more one side antes up, the more the other side raises in response. This is true in elections and in fights in Congress over legislation. There’s an arms race in political-money land, escalating all the time.

Here’s what that means: The country’s first presidential primary is not in New Hampshire but on K Street in Washington (the lobbyists’ main drag), on Wall Street in New York City, and on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. . . .

The presidential candidates who are able to collect the magic sum of $15 million by the time of the New Hampshire primary are the only ones who have any chance of attaining their party’s nomination.

And the only way to raise that much is to charm the money men. . . .

* * *

Whoever Wins, They Win

Double-Giving in the Presidential Campaign

If there were a standard corporate mission statement on political giving, it might go something like this:

“Spread the money around. To more than one candidate, and to more than one party.”

It is commonplace for large political donors to hedge their bets by currying favor with all the candidates, so that whoever wins, they win.

This phenomenon of double-giving is amply demonstrated in the current presidential campaign. Public Campaign’s analysis of large individual contributions ($200+) to Bill Bradley, George W. Bush, Al Gore, and John McCain in 1999 reveals that:

� Forty-seven companies and organizations that appear on the donor list of three or more presidential candidates gave a total of at least $50,000 overall.

� Forty-five of these companies are playing the entire field, showing up on all four of the front-runners’ donor lists.

� For each of these companies, no less than 20 percent of the total went to candidates of either one party or the other—-that is, a substantial amount of their money went to both Democrats and Republicans.

� Every company on the top ten list of double-givers is in the finance business—-investment, insurance, accounting, and banking—-with the exception of the entertainment giant Time Warner.

When generous contributors spread their money in this way, they demonstrate that many campaign contributions are solely about buying access and influence, not supporting any particular candidate or philosophy. What is most important is the guarantee of access no matter which person is elected.

This naked buying and selling of influence is at the heart of presidential campaign financing for the 2000 elections, and is a top priority for many of this country’s most powerful financial, communications, and law firms.

This analysis also demonstrates, once again, that “soft money”—-the most visible and outrageous form of campaign finance corruption—-is not the core of the problem. Of course, most of the companies in the double-giving business are also generous soft-money donors, often to both the Democratic and Republican parties. However, it is important to note that all the contributions analyzed in this study are old-fashioned hard money contributions, subject to the $1,000 per person, per candidate legal limits. There is nothing in the law, however, to prevent every single executive in a large company, along with every member of his or her family, from donating the $1,000 maximum. Through this common practice of “bundling,” donors are able to multiply their clout with campaigns.

If soft money were banned, or, as some in Congress are currently proposing, merely capped along with an increase in hard money contribution limits, none of this would change in the slightest. If anything, such changes would merely intensify candidates’ dependence on hard money donors, especially the deep-pocketed double-giving firms highlighted in this report.

The only way to end this cynical purchase of political influence is to create a clean, alternative way for candidates to finance their campaigns—-“clean money” full public financing for candidates who agree to raise no private money whatsoever.


Spreading campaign contributions to more than one candidate, and often more than one party, is a time-honored strategy practiced by the politically savvy.

One of the best known examples of this phenomenon are the sugar-growing Fanjul brothers of Florida. For years, they have managed to fight off attacks on the federal sugar loan support program that is worth more than $65 million a year for their business. Their secret? Alfonso “Alfy” Fanjul is a major Democratic donor; Jose “Pepe” Fanjul is a major Republican donor.

Meanwhile, consumers pay $1.2 billion more per year for sugar than they otherwise would.

This year’s presidential contest shows financial companies spreading the most money to candidates of both parties.

Wall Street investment firms Goldman, Sachs and Morgan, Stanley Dean Witter show up on the top twenty contributor lists of Bill Bradley, George W. Bush, Al Gore, and John McCain. So does the banking and insurance giant Citigroup. The accounting firm Ernst & Young made the top twenty donor list for three out of four of the main candidates, as did Time Warner, as reported by the Center for Responsive Politics.

These contributions do not flow from the companies themselves—-that would be illegal—-but rather from executives and their families. Nevertheless, there is method involved. Listen to Jeffrey Hirschberg, an executive with Ernst and Young and a Democrat loyalist and top fundraiser for presidential candidate Al Gore.

“The reason to be involved in the political process with campaign contributions on a bipartisan basis is very simple,” Hirschberg told the Boston Globe in 1996. “You can”t get anything done in this city [Washington, D.C.] unless it’s on a bipartisan basis.”

While Hirschberg raises money for Gore, his colleague, Les Brorsen, is one of George W. Bush’s “pioneers,” who have pledged to raise at least $100,000 apiece for their candidate.

The most generous double-givers have a long lobbying “to-do” list.

For example, investment firms have been lobbying to get a larger chunk of Americans’ retirement funds by privatizing Social Security.

Investment and accounting firms are also fighting to save elaborate tax shelters that they invent and market to their corporate clients.

Renewing “normal” trade status with China is another high priority for financial companies, as is federal regulation of commodities and derivatives markets.

Time Warner needs government approval for its proposed merger with America On Line (which is #25 on the double-giving list). The White House will have a big role in all of these issues—-plus many more.

The companies generously donating to all the presidential candidates have obviously concluded it will pay to have a friend in the White House—-and their double-, triple- and quadruple-giving guarantees that they will.


Top Double-Givers to Presidential Campaigns



Number of Candidates Receiving Contributions



Dem %


Repub %


Goldman, Sachs & Co








Ernst & Young








Citigroup Inc*








Merrill Lynch








Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter & Co*








AXA Financial*








Andersen Worldwide*
















Time Warner*








Bank of America*








Viacom Inc*








BellSouth Corp*
























Skadden, Arps et al








Akin, Gump et al








Prudential Insurance*








Deutsche Bank North America*








Microsoft Corp*








Winston & Strawn








Credit Suisse First Boston








JP Morgan & Co








Deloitte & Touche








Chase Manhattan*








America Online*
















Latham & Watkins








Bear, Stearns & Co








Global Crossing








Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher








Stanford University*
















Sullivan & Cromwell








Jones, Day et al








Dow, Lohnes & Albertson








Weil, Gotshal & Manges








Harvard University*








Patton Boggs LLP








Bristol-Myers Squibb








Jeffries & Co








CIBC Oppenheimer Corp*








Bell Atlantic








Thelen, Reid & Priest








Greenberg, Traurig et al








Sanford C Bernstein & Co








Verner, Liipfert et al








Fidelity Investments







Data downloaded from the FEC on 2/1/00 by the Center for Responsive Politics and standardized according to employer. Only donors giving at least 20 percent of their total to either Democrats or Republicans are included.

* Total came from more than one affiliate or subsidiary.

The Republican Party – From The Buying of the President 2000: . . .

If it wasn’t the “greatest robbery in the history of mankind,” it certainly will go down as one of the most morally reprehensible.

Switzerland — the Swiss National Bank and its private banks– took in more looted Nazi gold than anyone ever remotely imagined, at least an estimated $4 billion in today’s money.

It has been suggested … that World War II may have been prolonged by months as a result.

Nearly all of the gold stolen by the Nazis came from central banks in occupied countries or Germany, but one-sixth came from individuals, including Jews who were systematically murdered in Nazi concentration camps. Gold was melted down from wedding rings and gold teeth extracted from corpses at Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps….

In 1995 this story exploded around the world, and soon the United States– with the largest number of Holocaust survivors in the world– became a hotbed of reactivity for the jittery Swiss.

The Swiss were concerned about being shut out of U.S. markets. They faced class-action lawsuits and were threatened with sanctions from hundreds of local U.S. officials in New York, California, and Pennsylvania. And they were up against Senate and House Banking Committee investigations.

By late 1996 the Swiss government was reeling from revelations, and the field of action had become the U.S. Congress. Republican Alfonse D’Amato of New York, then the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, had presented acutely embarrassing information about the Swiss banks in April and October, and hundreds of journalists from all over the world pursued him and his aides in a feeding frenzy. The Swiss were already represented by at least one prominent law firm in Washington, Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, but clearly they needed more political muscle in the United States.

And to whom did the descendants of “Adolf Hitler’s money launderers” turn for help?

The Swiss government retained the lobbying firm of Haley Barbour, the chairman of the National Republican Committee, for $20,000 a month. In a letter of agreement with Ambassador Carlo Jagmetti at the embassy of Switzerland, Lanny Griffith, Barbour’s partner, wrote, “We are eager to assist the Swiss government managing the controversy arising out of allegations of Swiss banking practices before, during, and after World War II and relating to the Holocaust.”

“Maybe they thought if they get the former Republican National Committee chairman, he would have influence over us,” Gregg Rickman, then an aide to D’Amato who directed the Senate Banking Committee’s investigation, … told the Center for Public Integrity. . . .

* * *

Barbour’s firm began representing the Swiss during his final weeks as the chairman of the Republican National Committee. But the firm, in correspondence to the Justice Department, tried to hide Barbour’s financial ties to the controversial foreign client.

But behind the subterfuge was a more serious matter. In December 1996, when Barbour’s lobbying firm informed the Justice Department of its new client, papers were also filed there showing that Barbour owned a full, equal partnership in the company.

This was not illegal, but it did reveal for the first time that Barbour had lied to the public and his fellow Republicans for four years….

* * *

For More, GO TO > > >

Birds in the Lobby

Drowning in Think Tanks

Global Crossing

Hail to the Chief

Mocking Democracy

Parrots in the News Room

The Story of Enron

The Center for Public Integrity

Last Updated on July 4, 2003 by The Catbird