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CapCon selectively snippets Open Secrets post to bash unions, gets Act Blue wrong

by: Eric B.

Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 12:43:39 PM EDT


Open Secrets recently posted about the top 20 political donors from 1989 until this year. It's not actually a comprehensive list of political donors, however. I'll let Open Secrets explain.

This list includes the organizations that have historically qualified as "heavy hitters" — groups that lobby and spend big, with large sums sent to candidates, parties and leadership PACs. Individuals and organizations have been able to make extremely large donations to outside spending groups in the last few years. While contributions to outside groups like super PACs do not factor into an organization's designation as a "heavy hitter" (a listing of about 150 groups), those numbers are included for the roster below.

For example, this list does not include casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. He and his wife Miriam donated nearly $93 million in 2012 alone to conservative super PACs — enough to put him at No. 2 on this list. Similarly, the list excludes former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has donated more than $19 million in the past two years, largely to groups that support gun control. Neither Adelson nor Bloomberg — or the organizations they report as their employers — qualifies as a "heavy hitter" under our current definition. It's also important to note that we aren't including donations to politically active dark money groups, like Americans for Prosperity, a group linked to the Koch brothers, or the liberal group Patriot Majority — because these groups hide their donors; see a list of top donors that we've been able to identify to such groups. We are working to revise this list to take into account the new realities of campaign finance created by the Citizens United decision, but as it currently stands, there are significant omissions.

Okay ... got that? Citizens United has created an entirely new playing field for political donations, one that Open Secrets cannot quite account for because it has allowed front groups like Americans for Prosperity to secretly spread money about and hide who is giving them money. Also the list doesn't include individuals, one of whom would hit the number two spot, and he gives almost exclusively to Republicans. So they acknowledge significant omissions in the list.

So without further ado ... CapCon, if you absolutely, positively only want part of the story.

Democrats and many in the media routinely complain about money spent in politics, and they regularly lash out at conservatives and big business. Turns out, unions are the top spenders in politics.

Twelve of the top 20 political donors from 1989 to 2014 have been unions, which overwhelmingly support Democratic causes, according to an analysis done by OpenSecrets.org's Center for Responsive Politics.

So, he's sourcing whatever complaint it is that he's lashing out against by citing as authoratative a list that the people who compiled it said is incomplete.

A little later...

ActBlue, a political action committee that raises money for Democrats and progressive causes and features Michigan Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer on its "Hot List" of state and local of candidates on its website, topped the OpenSecrets list with $97.2 million spent within that time frame. Ninety-nine percent of it supported Democrats.

I would hope that 97 percent of money from ActBlue goes to Democrats, since it's an online fund raising tool intended to funnel small, individual donations to candidates. It's a pass-through mechanism, not people who give money to candidates inexchange for support.

By the way, later on he complains that unions give very little money to Republicans. Why would a union give money to someone who is trying to thwart it?

But, if you've gotten that far into the article and haven't figured out that it's fu of shit, you've got different, more serious problems.

Eric B. :: CapCon selectively snippets Open Secrets post to bash unions, gets Act Blue wrong
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