Friday, October 31, 2003

Corporate Contributions

The Center for Public Integrity has made some news with its "study" supposedly revealing that contracts for Iraq's reconstruction are going predominantly to corporations that have donated to Republicans. Several bloggers have already pointed out various problems with this "study." I'll point out one more:

The press release from the Center claims that the "companies donated" money to George W. Bush's campaign. Portrayals of the study in the media have included similar claims. For instance, the Dallas Morning News' article stated:
Halliburton and others on a list of those with contracts for reconstruction and security in Iraq and Afghanistan have been large political contributors, mostly to Republican candidates, Mr. Lewis said.
* * *
"Those companies contributed more money to the presidential campaign of George W. Bush – over $500,000 – than to any other politician over the last dozen years," Mr. Lewis said.
But it's illegal for corporations to donate money to candidates for federal office, and has been so since the Tillman Act of 1907. Is the Center for Public Integrity really claiming that all these corporations are blatantly violating the campaign finance laws? Or is the Center merely calculating how much money was given to Bush's campaign by the various individuals who happen to work at those companies?

UPDATE: If you look carefully at the Center's press release, it appears that they are claiming that (individuals who work at) 70 companies donated a grand total of $500,000 to Bush's 2000 campaign. That's not very much money spread out over 70 companies, especially when you consider that just one of the companies on the list -- Halliburton -- has about 100,000 employees by itself, while Bechtel has 44,000 employees. Even if Halliburton and Bechtel were the only companies on the list, only 500 employees out of 144,000 would have to give the federal maximum (which was $1,000 in the 2000 campaign cycle) in order to reach $500,000 total.


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