Should political candidates refuse corporate PAC money? | The Tylt

Should political candidates refuse corporate PAC money?

More than 170 federal candidates will not accept corporate PAC donations toward their election campaigns, according to a new report from the Associated Press. Eschewing corporate donations in favor of individual financial support has been on the rise and is seen as a way to rid corporate influence on politics. But election law experts say corporate PAC money represents a fraction of donor money flowing into campaigns, and the move is just a symbolic gesture that does little to fix the actual problem. What do you think?

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Voters have become much more concerned about who is funding political candidates in the years since Citizens United allowed corporations to funnel nearly unlimited money into political campaigns. Per the New York Times

A recent Pew report found that 75 percent of the public said “there should be limits on the amount of money individuals and organizations” can spend on political campaigns.
...Frustration with corporate influence in politics was already evident during the 2016 presidential cycle. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who sought the Democratic nomination, rejected corporate PAC money, excelled at attracting small-dollar donations, and criticized the political establishment in Washington for being too beholden to the wealthy.
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As candidates are making their final pushes in primary campaigns across the country, the Democratic National Committee reversed its rules on accepting donations from members of the fossil fuel industry. The DNC has said this new resolution was written in response to concerns from unions that the ban was "an attack on workers." The Huffington Post reports: 

As such, it states that the DNC “will continue to welcome the longstanding and generous contributions of workers, including those in energy and related industries, who organize and donate to Democratic candidates individually or through their unions’ or employers’ political action committees.”

The Huffington Post notes that only 4.4 percent of coal, oil, and gas workers are union members. 

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Critics are concerned the DNC is going to be opening up candidates to influence by corporations.

Chuck Idelson, a spokesperson for National Nurses United — a union that has been outspoken about the need to confront climate change, and which also backed Bernie Sanders’s primary bid — called the proposal a “blatant appeal to contributions from the fossil fuel industry, which is gorged with profits that they make off destroying the planet and poisoning working people.”
...In effect, the DNC just used organized labor as an excuse to preserve the right of fossil fuel corporations to freely donate and peddle influence within the Democratic Party. Labor higher-ups may well have strong-armed Perez into writing the resolution, but it’s also a convenient cover for some Democrats to continue courting relationships with fossil fuel donors, who, suffice to say, likely aren’t the hardscrabble fossil fuel workers Perez’s proposal references.
Coal, oil, and gas PACs give the majority of their donations to Republicans, but also contribute to a number of Democratic policymakers, including influential party leaders like Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the House minority whip, who in the 2018 cycle alone has accepted $214,100 from energy companies, much of it from PACs.
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Some supporters of corporate PAC money see the pushback against donations as an empty gesture. Joseph Albanese, writing for the Hill, argues that PACs are separate from the corporations they are affiliated with and as such, the money is coming from employees.

In any case, the pledge seems purely symbolic. As Republican campaign finance lawyer Cleta Mitchell notes, “corporate PACs” have nothing to do with accepting money “from” businesses. They cannot donate to their own PACs, since they cannot donate money to candidates. The law states that corporations may not “favor or disadvantage anyone by reason of the amount of their contribution or their decision not to contribute.”
So, all funds are voluntarily contributed by employees to their own company’s PAC, and the managers of that PAC can, in turn, give no more than $5,000 per election to candidates. So, the impact of pledging not to accept “corporate PAC” money is limited by the fact that such contributions are already limited by law, and the same people who contribute to PACs can still give to candidates individually. (In fact, individuals are the source of the vast majority of campaign contributions).
FINAL RESULTS
Politics
Should political candidates refuse corporate PAC money?
#TakePACMoney
A festive crown for the winner
#DontTakePACMoney