Mo’ (Dark) Money, Mo’ (Dark) Money, Mo’ (Dark) Money!


A coding error is to blame for the release of sensitive documents on the website of the Republican Governors Association (RGA) which disclose corporate donors and the amount of they donated.  The documents shed light on the secretive world of political “non-partisan” charities and the benefits that come with donating in secret. 

The documents show 17 corporate members of the RGA’s dark Republican Governors Public Policy Committee.  Classified as a 501(c)(4) organization, this tax-exempt group does not have to publicly disclose its donors.  As Fred Wertheimer, the president of Democracy 21, told the New York Times:

“This is a classic example of how corporations are trying to use secret money, hidden from the American people, to buy influence, and how the governors association is selling it.”

The documents list the companies who make large donations in order to get face time with governors. Their membership in this group allows them to lobby for positions that would be unpopular publicly:

The trove of documents, discovered by watchdogs at the Democrat-aligned Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, sheds light on the secretive world of 501(c)(4) political groups, just as the battle over their future intensifies. Unlike the Republican Governors Association, the tax-exempt Republican Governors Public Policy Committee is not required to disclose anything, even as donors hit the links, rub shoulders and trade policy talk with governors and their top staff members.

At a policy committee symposium last year at the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., committee members included the health insurers Aetna and WellPoint, the insurance lobby America’s Health Insurance Plans, the utility giant Southern Company, and the lobbying firms Dutko Grayling (now known as Grayling), BGR Group and Leavitt Partners.

Gail Gitcho, a spokeswoman for the RGA denounced CREW as a partisan force which, hypocritically, does not reveal its donors:

CREW accessed those documents from behind a password-protected website,” Ms. Gitcho said. “CREW hides behind the facade of an educational group when their only real purpose is to act as a liberal front group for Democrats.”

The doc dump also exposed the Democratic Governors Association’s corporate donors and benefits, however those documents did not include donation amounts. The RGA information, on the other hand, was rather complete:

Among the R.G.A. documents is a 21-page schedule of the policy committee’s Carlsbad meeting last year that lists which companies attended, who represented them and what they contributed. The most elite group, known as the Statesmen, whose members donated $250,000, included Aetna; Coca-Cola; Exxon Mobil; Koch Companies Public Sector, the lobbying arm of the highly political Koch Industries; Microsoft; Pfizer; UnitedHealth Group; and Walmart. The $100,000 Cabinet level included Aflac, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Comcast, Hewlett-Packard, Novartis, Shell Oil, Verizon Communications and Walgreen.

Other documents detail, in part, what they received in return.

One 2009 document states the benefits of a Governors Board membership, for a $50,000 annual contribution or a one-time donation of $100,000, saying it “offers the ability to bring their particular expertise to the political process while helping to support the Republican agenda.”

Board members received two tickets to “an exclusive breakfast with the Republican governors and members of their staff”; three tickets to the Governors Forums Series, where “a group of 5-8 governors discuss the best policy practices from around the country on a particular topic”; and a D.C. Discussion Breakfast Series, among other events.

If they bump up to Cabinet Membership — $100,000 annually or a single payment of $200,000 — contributors also receive two invitations to “an exclusive Gubernatorial Dinner,” an “intimate gathering with the Republican governors and special Republican V.I.P. guests” at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington.

In modern America, of course, the donations and subsequent rewards are as legal as they are disheartening.

NOTE: if you don’t get the reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1XCf9gEu7E


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