When it comes to political and lobbying spending, it’s a mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up world, to quote the Kinks’ Ray Davies. Leftist organizations such as the Center for Political Accountability, the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, and As You Sow seemingly check the closets and under the beds each night to ensure corporations aren’t exercising their First Amendment rights to freely engage in the political process. These shareholder activist groups work together and individually to stifle corporate speech by submitting proxy resolutions to companies in which they invest. These resolutions request companies to publicly divulge spending on lobbying and political campaigns as well as corporate contributions to such nonprofit advocacy groups as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
But when it comes to progressive billionaires contributing to liberal causes and candidates, CPA, AYS and ICCR are conspicuously silent. What’s the deal?
As noted by CPA’s Bruce Freed on the AYS website:
‘Dark money’ spending by third-party political organizations poses an even more serious risk to companies as they face growing pressures to contribute. To address the threat, the Center for Political Accountability (CPA) and its shareholder partners will be filing resolutions at more than 50 companies in the 11th year of CPA’s advocacy and engagement effort.
Who is “threatened” by political and lobbying expenditures from the business sector? It certainly couldn’t be the shareholders or company employees and customers, who stand to benefit from a company campaigning for their respective best interests. Hmmm…if a company can’t contribute money to causes and candidates, should other types of constitutionally guaranteed speech be stifled as well? But when it comes to funds contributed to causes with which AYS, ICCR and Mr. Freed agree you hear nothing but crickets.
As reported last week in The Washington Free Beacon:
Members of a secretive club of wealthy left-wing donors are bankrolling a major Democratic Super PAC backing a likely Hillary Clinton presidential run even as some of the group’s members complain it is too closely tied to the Democratic Party.
More than a third of total contributions this year to American Bridge 21st Century have come from individuals associated with the Democracy Alliance.
The most prominent and deep-pocketed is left-wing billionaire George Soros, who has donated half a million dollars to the group this year. Sixteen Democracy Alliance donors, including Soros, have given American Bridge just shy of $2 million since January.
For those unfamiliar with American Bridge, there’s this:
American Bridge is an opposition research outfit founded by Democratic operative and prominent Hillary Clinton supporter David Brock. Brock has used American Bridge and Media Matters for America, an activist group he chairs, to attack those perceived as Clinton critics ahead of her widely expected 2016 presidential run.
American Bridge is also active in pushing Democratic midterm efforts this year. According to internal Democracy Alliance documents, the group is ‘providing content to’ other Democrat-aligned groups, including super PACs Priorities USA, Senate Majority PAC, and House Majority PAC.
But wait a second…isn’t secretive funding the “dark money” that gives the left the shakes? Or is it only when such monies can be traced speculatively to Sheldon Adelson or the “notorious” brothers Charles and David Koch? Those for whom the phrase “dark money” causes them to lose sleep should proceed with caution before reading the following:
Democracy Alliance does not disclose any information about its operations. Because it serves as a “pass through” between donors and its supported groups, Democracy Alliance’s role in raising hundreds of millions of dollars since its 2005 inception remains largely hidden from public view.
However, the names of Democracy Alliance donors and others affiliated with the group, obtained and published by the Washington Free Beacon and others, show overlap between its wealthy members and the donor rolls of the groups it supports.
Those groups are broken down into two categories: “aligned network” organizations, and a larger ‘progressive infrastructure.’ The latter, which includes American Bridge, received a total of $40.5 million from Democracy Alliance donors last year, LaMarche revealed in a presentation at the April conference.
It’s become all too easy these days to employ the hypocrite epithet when groups or individuals fail to meet the ethical aspirations they espouse. However, the term is remarkably apropos for CPA, ICCR and AYS when they scramble to shut down corporate speech but say and do nothing when vast sums of money from leftist billionaires are donated to further the progressive agenda. Shame on them.