Big Business reaping benefits from campaigning; states enact new measures

Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • $32 million: Amount spent by GE on lobbying during the first three quarters of 2010
  • $1.46 million: Amount GE’s PAC contributed to congressional candidates over the past election cycle
  • Unknown: How much GE spent on three full-page ads it ran with its partner Rolls-Royce in Politico, The Hill and Roll Call this week, when the new Congress convened

Big Business already seeing investment in elections pay off

Corporations spent a lot on influencing the November elections, and they are already seeing results. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chair of the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee, reportedly asked more than 150 trade associations, corporations and think tanks to provide a wish list of public health, environmental and other public protections they want eliminated. Instead, Issa should be subjecting corporate claims to the withering scrutiny he promises for the Obama administration.

Even before they are sworn in, they are raising money

And they’re off. The night before being sworn in to the House of Representatives, lawmakers attended a $2,500-a-head fundraiser at a swanky hotel. But the fun didn’t stop there. Two incoming lawmakers actually missed the swearing in because – are you ready for this? – they were at a fundraiser. “That wasn’t planned. It just worked out that way,” said freshman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.).

American Crossroads: a hedge fund?

American Crossroads, the group launched by Karl Rove to collect and funnel huge amounts of money into elections, regards itself as a hedge fund, its president told the Los Angeles Times. “We operate like a hedge fund,” said the group’s president, Steven Law, said. “We look for opportunities where we can invest and make a difference.”

Cuomo calls for major reforms in New York

Incoming New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a variety of ethics and election reforms to help clean up the notoriously corrupt Albany, and his ideas are getting a thumbs-up from at least one good government group. Cuomo called for an independent ethics commission and public financing of elections.

Illinois campaign finance law takes effect

A new law has taken effect in Illinois that would limit individuals to giving $5,000 to any single candidate, while unions, political action committees and corporations would be restricted to $10,000. Previously, the state had no limits. In addition, the law boosts disclosure of campaign giving and says that candidates have five days max to document donations of more than $1,000.

Kentucky tries to follow suit

Meanwhile in Kentucky, lawmakers are starting the year out by considering a measure that would restrict political giving while the Legislature is in session by companies that hire lobbyists.

Maryland is talking about it too

A panel convened by the state attorney general has come up with 25 recommendations for campaign finance reform, including imposing more restrictions on donations from corporations.

Get the Money & Democracy Update delivered to your inbox! Sign up here.