The Complicated Relationship Between Congressional Donations and Congressional Legislation

Members of the Congress and Senate hold an enormous amount of power. As the legislative branch, it is these individuals who get to decide what laws we will live by, how we will spend our national budget, and what the parameters will be regarding our foreign relations with other countries.

Unfortunately, this type of power can create scenarios where those who are seeking political outcomes are willing to pay a good deal of money in donations and gifts to see those outcomes come to fruition.

While most Americans are very aware that Pay to Play occurs, to see it on no uncertain terms can be very jarring. It is my opinion that the American populace should be very aware of how this connection occurs and who benefits from it.

I would assert that these are your representatives. They are paid by your tax dollars. You have every right to know who they really working for, and what the final agenda is.

You deserve to know.

The Price of Power:

The power that one holds as a member on capital hill cannot be obtained for free. While it is a commonly held view that anyone can win public office in America. Any citizen who has an idea of how to make the country a better place and who can get others to vote for them can win a seat to make a change….

I believe it was President Obama who dismissively stated that if people disagreed with his actions they should “pick up a clipboard” ( suggesting that running for office was a simple as hitting the pavement and asking for votes)….However, hitting the pavement with a clipboard in hand is not the way to a seat on Capital Hill.

Getting wealthy donors and backers for your campaign is the way to get to Capital Hill in America, and in order to win it takes a lot of backers and donners.

  • In 2018 the cost to run for a seat in congress was almost 6 billion dollars when factoring in the money spent by PACs as well as the individual campaigns [center for responsive politics].
  • This is almost 5 times more than the cost of a Congressional run in 2008.
The price of Elections [Federal Election Committee]

Where does the money come from?

Almost every sector of the economy has a hand in the Congressional money cycle.
Rank Industry Amount Total to PACs, Parties & Candidates** Dems Repubs
1 Securities/Invest
$407,463,021 $190,119,829 51.7% 48.0%
2 Retired
$401,339,675 $363,559,283 56.6% 42.8%
3 Real Estate
$199,859,221 $147,293,333 47.3% 52.4%
4 Lawyers/Law Firms
$184,528,274 $173,230,765 78.6% 20.9%
5 Misc Finance
$178,071,356 $52,571,420 52.9% 46.8%
6 Repub/Conservative
$122,298,821 $27,183,549 0.2% 99.8%
7 Candidate Cmtes
$118,163,317 $117,390,418 61.7% 38.2%
8 Democratic/Liberal
$111,801,392 $39,012,327 99.0% 0.1%
9 Environment
$105,305,609 $7,339,695 96.4% 2.5%
10 Health Professionals
$102,731,312 $92,952,746 58.8% 40.7%
11 Education
$94,392,807 $88,241,119 88.3% 11.0%
12 Non-Profits
$94,211,731 $42,869,335 77.7% 21.9%
13 Misc Mfg/Distrib
$90,873,472 $39,822,679 31.3% 68.4%
14 Casinos/Gambling
$88,176,803 $20,520,310 43.0% 56.9%
15 Oil & Gas
$85,306,379 $49,363,714 12.6% 87.3%
16 Leadership PACs
$85,023,894 $84,998,015 44.3% 55.4%
17 Health Services
$84,815,746 $21,490,444 51.4% 48.3%
18 Electronics Mfg/Eqp
$63,787,170 $42,396,098 65.6% 33.8%
19 Insurance
$61,078,919 $56,334,476 39.1% 60.6%
20 Business Services
$59,134,400 $52,744,872 71.8% 27.6%
Partisan tilt:
• Solidly Democrat/Liberal
• Leans Democrat/Liberal
• Solidly Republican/Conservative
• Leans Republican/Conservative
• On the fence
The Democratic and Republican percentages are calculated using money to candidates and party affiliated committees only. Percentages may not add up to 100% as money can be given to third party candidates or party committees.
METHODOLOGY: The numbers on this page are based on contributions from PACs and individuals giving $200 or more to candidates and party committees, and from donors (including corporate and union treasuries) giving to super PACs and other outside groups, as reported to the Federal Election Commission.
**Does not include money to outside spending groups
All donations took place during the 2017-2018 and released by the Federal Election Commission on 06/10/19.
Feel free to distribute or cite this material, but please credit the Center for Responsive Politics.
Totals by Sector
Election Cycle 2018

Rank Sector Amount Indivs PACs Other INDIVS
PACs
Other
1 Finance/Insur/RealEst
$921,527,521 44.8% 10.9% 44.3%
2 Ideology/Single-Issue
$650,454,197 19.2% 34.5% 46.2%
3 Other
$646,144,068 84.1% 0.3% 15.6%
4 Misc Business
$403,428,948 50.4% 11.3% 38.2%
5 Health
$264,918,520 43.4% 24.1% 32.5%
6 Communic/Electronics
$234,627,582 54.0% 13.6% 32.3%
7 Lawyers & Lobbyists
$227,102,245 87.8% 6.9% 5.3%
8 Labor
$174,183,339 1.3% 38.8% 59.9%
9 Energy/Nat Resource
$141,066,882 40.5% 25.7% 33.8%
10 Agribusiness
$97,294,179 49.3% 31.1% 19.6%
11 Construction
$85,602,241 68.2% 20.3% 11.5%
12 Transportation
$71,612,354 49.9% 43.3% 6.8%
13 Defense
$29,831,989 27.3% 72.2% 0.5%

[Center for Responsive Politics]
METHODOLOGY: The numbers on this page are based on contributions from PACs and individuals giving $200 or more to candidates and party committees, and from donors (including corporate and union treasuries) giving to super PACs and other outside groups, as reported to the Federal Election Commission.
All donations took place during the 2017-2018 election cycle and were released by the Federal Election Commission on 06/10/19.

The Complexity of Contributions:

Like everything the federal government regulates, there are rules regarding campaign contributions…and like everything the federal government regulates, the rules are complex and variable depending on the details and context.

[the  following  is cited from the fcc website]

Who can contribute to campaigns?

Individuals

An individual may make contributions to candidates and their authorized committees, subject to limitations.

Minors [ this is something not a lot of people realize, but minors are allowed to make “donations” to political campaigns]

An individual who is under 18 years old may make contributions to candidates and political committees, subject to limitations, if:

  • The decision to contribute is made knowingly and voluntarily by the minor;
  • The funds, goods or services contributed are owned or controlled by the minor, proceeds from a trust for which he or she is a beneficiary or funds withdrawn by the minor from a financial account opened and maintained in his or her name; and
  • The contribution is not made using funds given to the minor as a gift for the purpose of making the contribution, and is not in any way controlled by another individual.

Certain limited liability companies (LLCs)

For purposes of contribution limitations and prohibitions, a limited liability company (LLC) is treated as either a corporation or a partnership.

An LLC is treated as a corporation if:

  • It has chosen to file, under Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules, as a corporation; or
  • It has publicly traded shares.

An LLC is treated as a partnership if:

  • It has chosen to file, under IRS rules, as a partnership; or
  • It has made no choice, under IRS rules, as to whether it is a corporation or a partnership.

So in other words- the LLC gets to decide what it is- there are no set guidelines as to what is considered a “partnership”

If an LLC is treated as a corporation, it is prohibited from making contributions to candidate committees, but [based on the citizen united decision rendered by the Supreme Court in 2011]it can establish an SSF. It may also give money to IEOPCs. If it is considered a partnership, it is subject to the contribution limits for partnerships.

  • Main takeaway is that even if an LLC is classified as a “corporation” there are ways around the inability to donate.
    • Separate Segregated Fund- or more commonly PAC (a political Action Committee) a PAC is loosely defined as an organization that pools contributions from members and uses that money in the form of  donations for or against a particular campaign, legislation or ballot initiative
  • So while the Corporation cannot donate directly to any of the items listed above- it can form a group and make donations that way- the main issue is that there has to be a separation between the candidate and the PAC- so the candidate cannot ask for donations from PACS, nor can they be directly aware of how the funds are being spent to assist their campaigns

2) IEOPC is basically another variation of PAC with slightly different parameters- but basically the same – it is  group that takes donations on behalf od of political objectives

Single member LLC

If a single member LLC has not chosen corporate tax treatment, it may make contributions; the contributions will be attributed to the single member, not the LLC.

Partnerships

Partnerships are permitted to make contributions according to special rules.

Contributions received by a candidate’s authorized committees from a partnership may not exceed the limitations. In addition, a contribution from a partnership also counts proportionately against each participating partner’s own limit with respect to the same candidate.

The way a corporation can make donations is by registering as a partnership

Indian tribes

In past advisory opinions and enforcement cases, the Commission has determined that an unincorporated tribal entity can be considered a “person” under the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) and thus subject to the various contribution prohibitions and limitations.

Political party committees

Party committees may support federal candidates in a variety of ways, including making contributions.

Political action committees

Separate segregated funds

SSFs may make contributions to candidates and to their authorized committees.

Nonconnected PACs

Generally, nonconnected PACs may make contributions to influence federal elections, subject to the Act’s limitations and reporting requirements.

As nonconnected committees that solicit and accept unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations, labor organizations and other political committees, Super PACs and Hybrid PACs do not make contributions to candidates.

Other federal campaigns

A candidate’s authorized committees may accept a contribution of up to $2,000 per election from the authorized committee of another federal candidate

State PACs, unregistered local party organizations and nonfederal campaign committees

State PACs, unregistered local party organizations and nonfederal campaign committees (nonfederal committees) may, under certain circumstances, contribute to federal candidates, but:

  • The funds that comprise the contribution must come from permissible sources under the Act; and
  • Making the contribution may require the nonfederal committee to register with the FEC as a federal political committee, subject to federal laws and regulations

The candidate

When candidates use or loan their personal funds for campaign purposes, they are making contributions to their campaigns. Unlike other contributions, these candidate contributions are not subject to any limit.

Who can’t contribute?

Campaigns are prohibited from accepting contributions from certain types of organizations and individuals. These prohibited sources are:

  • Corporations, including nonprofit corporations (although funds from a corporate separate segregated fund are permissible)
  • Labor organizations (although funds from a separate segregated fund are permissible)
  • Federal government contractors
  • Foreign nationals
  • Contributions in the name of another

Corporations, labor organizations, national banks

Campaigns may not accept contributions from the treasury funds of corporations, labor organizations or national banks. This prohibition applies to any incorporated organization, including a nonstock corporation, a trade association, an incorporated membership organization and an incorporated cooperative.

A campaign may, however, accept contributions from PACs established by corporations, labor organizations, incorporated membership organizations, trade associations and national banks. Moreover, the Act permits corporations, labor organizations, incorporated membership organizations, trade associations and national banks to use their treasury funds for certain election-related activities that benefit candidates.

What is a PAC?

Professional corporations

Although law firms, doctors’ practices and similar businesses are often organized as partnerships, some of these businesses may instead be professional corporations. Unlike a partnership, a professional corporation is prohibited from making any contributions because contributions from corporations are unlawful.

Partnerships or LLCs with corporate partners or members

Because contributions from corporations are prohibited, a partnership or LLC with corporate partners or members may not attribute any portion of a contribution to the corporate partners or members.

A partnership or LLC composed solely of corporate partners or members may not make any contributions.

NOTE:

[ with this in mind it becomes apparent why the boards of many “corporations” are usually inclusive of people that have no experience/ability in the sector of that corporation.]

A Relevant Example of PAC’S using congressional and senate connections to gain favor in the political arena:

This study was released by the Journal of American Medical Association and shows direct connections between corporations that have been accused of contributing to the opioid crises to Congressional and Senate members who sit on committees with direct ability to legislate related bills to those corporations.

Partnerships or LLCs with foreign national members

Similarly, because contributions from foreign nationals are prohibited, a partnership or LLC may not attribute any portion of a contribution to a partner who is a foreign national.

NOTE:

[ when that is broken down to what it actually says….it is not prohibiting donations from a partnership or LLC with foreign national members…it is just stating that if there is a donation none of it can be appropriated to a foreign member. With this in mind,  an LLC or “partnership” that is composed almost entirely of foreign members with just one or two non foreign national and can still make donations as long as those two non-foreign nationals are donating in their names only….]

Personal funds from a candidate employed by prohibited source

A candidate’s salary or wages earned from bona fide employment are considered his or her personal funds. However, compensation paid to a candidate in excess of actual hours worked, or in consideration of work not performed, is generally considered a contribution from the employer. If the employer is a corporation, federal government contractor, or another prohibited source, the excess payment would result in a prohibited contribution under the regulations applicable to that employer.

Churches and other charitable organizations

Incorporated charitable organizations — like other corporations — are prohibited from making contributions in connection with federal elections. Unlike most other corporations, charities face additional restrictions on political activity under provisions of the Internal Revenue Code.

Federal government contractors

Campaigns may not accept or solicit contributions from federal government contractors. A federal government contractor is a person who enters into a contract, or is bidding on such a contract, with any agency or department of the United States government and is paid, or is to be paid, for services, material, equipment, supplies, land or buildings with funds appropriated by Congress. Since corporate contributions are already prohibited, the government contractor ban applies primarily to contributions from a partnership (or a limited liability company) with a government contract. It also applies to the personal and business funds of:

  • Individuals under contract to the federal government; and
  • Sole proprietors of businesses with federal contracts.

The spouses of individuals and sole proprietors who are federal government contractors and employees of federal government contractors, however, may make contributions from personal funds.

Partnerships or LLCs with federal government contracts

A partnership or LLC that is negotiating a contract with the federal government or that has not completed performance of such a contract is prohibited from making contributions. However, an individual partner in such a firm may make contributions from personal funds (rather than from funds drawn on the partnership’s account).

Also, an individual, who is, in his or her own right or as a sole proprietor, a federal government contractor or negotiating a contract with the federal government may not make contributions using any funds (business or personal) under his or her control. Note that the spouse of such an individual is not prohibited from making a personal contribution in his or her own name (as long as he or she is not otherwise prohibited from making contributions in connection with a federal election).

Foreign nationals

Campaigns may not solicit or accept contributions from foreign nationals. Federal law prohibits contributions, donations, expenditures and disbursements solicited, directed, received or made directly or indirectly by or from foreign nationals in connection with any election — federal, state or local. This prohibition includes contributions or donations made to political committees and building funds and to make electioneering communications. Furthermore, it is a violation of federal law to knowingly provide substantial assistance in the making, acceptance or receipt of contributions or donations in connection with federal and nonfederal elections to a political committee, or for the purchase or construction of an office building. This prohibition includes, but is not limited to, acting as a conduit or intermediary for foreign national contributions and donations.

A person acts knowingly for the purposes of this section when he or she has:

  • Actual knowledge that the funds have come from a foreign national;
  • Awareness of certain facts that would lead a reasonable person to believe that there is a substantial probability that the money is from a foreign national; or
  • Awareness of facts that should have prompted a reasonable inquiry into whether the source of funds is a foreign national.

Pertinent facts that satisfy the “knowing” requirement include knowledge of:

  • Use of a foreign passport or passport number;
  • Use of a foreign address;
  • A check or other written instrument drawn on an account or wire transfer from a foreign bank; or
  • Contributor or donor living abroad.

Definition of foreign national

A foreign national is:

  • An individual who is not a citizen of the United States, and not lawfully admitted for permanent residence (as defined in 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(20)); or
  • A foreign principal, as defined in 22 U.S.C. § 611(b). Section 611 defines a foreign principal as a group organized under the laws of a foreign country or having its principal place of business in a foreign country. The statute specifically mentions foreign governments, political parties, partnerships, associations and corporations.

“Green card” exception

An individual who is not a citizen of the United States is eligible to make a contribution if he or she has a “green card” indicating that he or she is lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States.

Domestic subsidiaries of foreign corporations

In advisory opinions, the Commission has said that a United States corporation that is a subsidiary of a foreign corporation may sponsor a separate segregated fund which can in turn make contributions to federal candidates as long as:

  • The foreign parent does not finance election related contributions or expenditures either directly or through the subsidiary.
  • No foreign national (including the foreign parent) participates in the operations of the separate segregated fund or in its administration (such as by appointing officers) or in any decision to make donations, contributions, disbursements or expenditures in connection with any federal or nonfederal election.

Determining nationality of contributor

The Commission stated, in AO 1998-14, that the use of any surname on a contribution check (or similar instrument) would not, by itself, give any reason to inquire as to the person’s nationality. Nonetheless, the Commission advised the committee to take the following minimally intrusive steps to ensure that the contributions it received did not come from foreign nationals:

  • Ensure that public political ads and solicitations directed to audiences outside the U.S. contain a summary of the foreign national prohibition of 52 U.S.C. § 30121.
  • Make further inquiry into the nationality of the contributor if the committee receives a contribution postmarked from any non U.S. territory.
  • Make further inquiry into the nationality of the contributor if the committee receives a contribution indicating that either the bank or the account owner has a foreign address.

In all of the these instances, if the contribution is submitted along with credible evidence (for example, a copy of a valid U.S. passport) that the contributor is a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national or a permanent resident alien, no further inquiry need be made. However, if the committee has actual knowledge that the contributor is in fact a foreign national, it may not rely on these documents as a defense.

A note regarding foreign nationals and US elections:

Despite the regulations in place to prevent foreign influence in American government, it is well known that vast amounts of money is spent each election cycle by foreign nationals. Data compiled by International Business Times and MapLight show that foreign influence is hardly confined to the shadows. It’s a big, open, bipartisan business, with foreign government lobbyists delivering millions of dollars of campaign cash to elected officials in Washington.

  • What a is largely not the center of conversation among the  media and DC elite is that there are many firms in DC that offer lobbying services specifically to foreign countries [which is one way around the foreign national rule regarding campaign contributions].
  • Under federal law, foreign nationals are prohibited from donating to any federal, state, or local campaigns, or political parties. But foreign governments frequently hire U.S. citizens to represent their interests, and those people face no such contribution ban (IBT).
  • These lobbyist firms gave more than $4.5 million to federal lawmakers and candidates on behalf of their foreign cliental in the last election cycle.
  • Foreign lobbyists and their firms’ political action committees were also responsible for packaging a total of $5.9 million in donations for candidates and party committees, through an influence-enhancing tactic known as “bundling.”
  • So in all, that is over 10 million dollars that was contributed either directly or on behalf of foreign entities in the last election.
  • Larry Noble, general counsel at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, told IBT/MapLight:

that donations by foreign lobbyists don’t often come from the lobbying firms or their PACs, but from individual members of the firm.

“When that happens, how do you know whether any of that money is being directed by lobbyists of the foreign national, or if it’s coming out of money they got from the foreign national for that purpose? There are lots of ways for people to get illegal money to campaigns,” Noble said. “It’s not an easy thing to prove.”

An example of the murky waters of foreign involvement is the recent presidential election. It has been shown that on both sides of the isle there was most likely foreign donations in the hopes of favorable treatment in return.

  • For instance: Mercury Public Affairs, a bipartisan lobbying firm, was subpoenaed about its work with one-time Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on behalf of a Ukrainian political party allied with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
  • Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta — who is the brother of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta — resigned from his lobbying firm after Mueller’s indictment of Manafort alluded to the firm’s work for the same Ukrainian interests. Lobbying records show Podesta’s firm was also hired to represent Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank.

[NOTE: it truly is both sides of the isle. Everyone’s pockets are getting lined…usually by the same people]

Podesta — whose firm represented at least a dozen foreign clients during the 2016 cycle — was a major fundraiser for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, the top 2016 recipient of money from foreign government lobbyists. Podesta said in an email that he has never been instructed by a foreign lobbying client to make donations to a U.S. campaign, and that he saw no ethical problem with foreign agents making political contributions.

The foreign involvement is not just at the presidential level. There are many members of the House and Senate who gladly accept foreign money every election cycle.

Top recipients of foreign lobbyist money [ in 2016 Election cycle]

FARA:

  • Passed by Congress in 1938, FARA imposes registration requirements on “foreign principals,” which are defined as a foreign government or political party, any foreign national, and any “partnership, association, corporation, organization, or other combination of persons organized under the laws of or having its principal place of business in a foreign country.”
  • The Justice Department’s inspector general found last year that 62 percent of foreign lobbyists fail to register on time, and reported that the agency “lacks a comprehensive FARA enforcement strategy.”

Who Is Paying to Play and Who is Getting Paid :

FARA filings available via FOIA requests show that foreign money is pouring into the hands of the DC lobbyist industry.

  • The list of politicians who have turned to a lucrative career of lobbying for foreign governments and international interest groups is long, and gets longer every day. Some  of the well known names on the list include:
    • 1996 Republican presidential candidate and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan.; former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Mo.; former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss.; and former Mississippi Republican Gov. Haley Barbour — as well as an army of former Capitol Hill staffers from both parties[ Maplight.com].

In addition to the individuals who lobby, there is a long list of well known lobbyist firms for hire to the many foreign entities looking for a direct connection to Capital Hill.

Top sources of foreign lobbyist money

Lobbying firms Amount
Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP 390,896
Podesta Group, Inc. 328,988
Roberti + White, LLC 143,300
Imaad Zuberi 137,700
Alpine Group, Inc. 126,200
Peck, Madigan, Jones & Stewart, Inc. 125,304
Cornerstone Government Affairs, LLC 124,016
S-3 Group 113,999
Prime Policy Group 109,690
Alignment Government Strategies 106,054
BGR Government Affairs, LLC 105,146
Williams & Jensen, PLLC 104,577
theGroup DC, LLC 90,700
Capitol Counsel, LLC 90,250
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP 88,966
  • As Maplight observed: Contracts reviewed by IBT/MapLight show that  these politically connected lobbyists can make huge sums from foreign government clients — no matter how small, repressive, or impoverished the countries may be.
  • Illustrations of the connections between foreign countries and the US legislative process include:
  •  
    • The Sri Lankan government gave Democratic fundraiser Imaad Zuberi a four-month contract worth $8.5 million to do little more than provide “strategic advice related to commercial and public policy.” The contract with Zuberi — who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for former President Barack Obama and Clinton — ended in 2014, but he did not file foreign agent registration forms until 2015, amid a Justice Department probe first reported by Foreign Policy.
    • Cassidy and Associates, once described as “the most lucrative lobbying firm in Washington,” inked a $50,000-a-month contract in January with Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, which has been accused of manipulating elections and assisting in crackdowns on dissenters. The contract said the firm would “identify stakeholders who are supportive of the foreign principal’s objectives” in the U.S. Foreign lobbyists at the firm delivered almost $60,000 to candidates in 2016.
    • Nicaragua’s government inked a deal with legal powerhouse firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld that promised a $350,000 payday if it could secure an extension of trade preferences that would help the country’s textile industry. The firm’s registered agents were the top source of political cash among all registered foreign lobbyists in the 2016 cycle, sending more than $390,000 to federal candidates. Akin Gump promised Nicaragua that its services would include “meeting and aggressive lobbying with key Members of Congress and officials of the Obama Administration.” One Akin Gump lobbyist who advised the Nicaraguan government previously served as an international trade counsel for the Senate Finance Committee. The firm’s lobbying efforts appear to have failed, as the tariff preferences expired and have not been renewed.
    • The Podesta Group secured a $120,000-per-quarter contract to represent 7-year-old South Sudan, where the United Nations says 80 percent of the people earn less than $1 per day. The lobbyists have advised the young republic and represented them to the press, attempting to paint the government in a positive light, particularly around the anniversaries of the bloody civil war that has seen both government and opposition forces target specific ethnic groups.
    • A firm called the GROUP was awarded a $20,000-a-month contract from Bermuda to  push the government’s interests before Congress and the U.S. financial services industry. The deal was cemented in the same week that news organizations began publishing the Paradise Papers, a series on leaked documents detailing how the island nation has become a tax haven for politicians, celebrities and moguls across the globe. The company’s foreign agents, one of whom chairs the Congressional Black Caucus Institute’s policy think tank, gave more than $90,000 to lawmakers during the 2016 election.
    • According to the Center for Responsive Politics records: Marco Rubio has received almost half a million dollars from PACS that self identify as Pro-Israel [ and keep in mind that many other PACS might have pro- Israel ideology, but might not identify as such] in the 2019 calendar year, and the following are direct examples of the pro-Israel legislation that Senator Rubio has sponsored in return:

[All of the following have been introduced in the calendar year of 2019]

  1. S.2621 A bill to provide for the restoration of legal rights for claimants under holocaust-era insurance policies.
    1. S.238 Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act of 2019
    1. S.893 Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2019 [ This directly benefits Israel as there are Israeli based technology companies involved in the distribution of 5G]
    1. S.2179 Trauma-Informed Modernization of Eldercare for Holocaust Survivors Act
    1. S.2114 ISA Student Protection Act of 2019 [ This is the Israeli Students of America Protection Act- in an attempt to  make “anti-semitic speech on campus” which is any critical speech of Israel- a crime]
    1. S.2085 Never Again Education Act[ which legislates holocaust education and makes it mandatory]
    1. SR. 189 A resolution condemning all forms of antisemitism.
    1. S.8592 Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2019
    1. S.567 A bill clarifying that it is United States policy to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
    1. SR.143 A resolution recognizing Israeli-American culture and heritage and the contributions of the Israeli-American community to the United States.
    1. SR.227 :
A resolution remembering the 25th Anniversary of the bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and recommitting to efforts to uphold justice for the 85 victims of the attacks  

Senator Rubio has also sponsored and co-sponsored numerous bills that benefit Israel indirectly through the sanctions and legislation directed at Iran and other entities that Israel sees as oppositional to their own well-being. After calculating the number of bills that Senator Rubio has sponsored and co-sponsored and the amount of legislation that directly benefits Israel, it can be determined that almost 13% of Senators Rubio’s bills are written to benefit a foreign nation and it’s citizens…not the US and Americans.

Contributions in the name of another

A contribution made by one person in the name of another is prohibited. For example, an individual who has already contributed up to the limit to the campaign may not give money to another person to make a contribution to the same candidate. Similarly, a corporation is prohibited from using bonuses or other methods of reimbursing employees for their contributions

Campaign Limits 2019-2020 Election Cycle:

Recipient
Candidate committee PAC† (SSF and nonconnected) Party committee: state/district/local Party committee: national Additional national party committee accounts‡
Donor Individual $2,800* per election $5,000 per year $10,000 per year (combined) $35,500* per year $106,500* per account, per year
Candidate committee $2,000 per election $5,000 per year Unlimited transfers Unlimited transfers
PAC: multicandidate $5,000 per election $5,000 per year $5,000 per year (combined) $15,000 per year $45,000 per account, per year
PAC: nonmulticandidate $2,800* per election $5,000 per year $10,000 per year (combined) $35,500* per year $106,500* per account, per year
Party committee: state/district/local $5,000 per election (combined) $5,000 per year (combined) Unlimited transfers Unlimited transfers
Party committee: national $5,000 per election** $5,000 per year Unlimited transfers Unlimited transfers

*Indexed for inflation in odd-numbered years.

†“PAC” here refers to a committee that makes contributions to other federal political committees. Independent-expenditure-only political committees (sometimes called “Super PACs”) may accept unlimited contributions, including from corporations and labor organizations.

‡The limits in this column apply to a national party committee’s accounts for: (i) the presidential nominating convention; (ii) election recounts and contests and other legal proceedings; and (iii) national party headquarters buildings. A party’s national committee, Senate campaign committee and House campaign committee are each considered separate national party committees with separate limits. Only a national party committee, not the parties’ national congressional campaign committees, may have an account for the presidential nominating convention.

**Additionally, a national party committee and its Senatorial campaign committee may contribute up to $49,600 combined per campaign to each Senate candidate.

$100 limit on cash contributions
A campaign may not accept more than $100 in cash from a particular source with respect to any campaign for nomination for election, or election to federal office.

$50 limit on anonymous contributions:
An anonymous contribution of cash is limited to $50. Any amount in excess of $50 must be promptly disposed of and may be used for any lawful purpose unrelated to any federal election, campaign or candidate.

In-kind contributions
The value of an in-kind contribution—the usual and normal charge—counts against the contribution limit as a gift of money does. Additionally, like any other contribution, in-kind contributions count against the contributor’s limit for the next election, unless they are otherwise designated.

Recent Study of Congressional Favors Tied Directly to Donors:

https://www.openthebooks.com/assets/1/7/The_Congressional_Favor_Factory_Report_FINAL2.pdf

  • Another very relevant example of pay for play that was not examined in this report is the example of Representative Zoe Lofgren, and the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act.
  • This act was created specifically to remove caps on the amount of HB1 visas that can be handed out to foreigners with tech skills desiring to come to America.
  • Not only does the legislation remove the caps, it also allows tech companies tax breaks and loop holes for the requirements of offering healthcare to foreign workers, making it very financially lucrative for these companies to hire foreign workers and effectively penalizing them for hiring native born Americans.
  • This would virtually insure that the young Americans who currently graduating college with basic computer programming degrees would be delivering pizza as they struggle to pay off their student loans….as all those positions will be filled with the thousands of workers big tech will import from India and China.

The Congressional favor connection for this bill:

The 10 largest U.S. tech companies have given more than $6.6 million in campaign contributions to House members since 2017 in support of this bill, including $5 million to cosponsors of the measure. Google, the Mountain View–based advertising colossus, accounted for almost $2.2 million; Seattle-based Amazon gave almost $1.1 million; and Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, donated more than $1 million. Other major H-1B employers who donated to House lawmakers included Adobe ($26,700), Apple ($277,300), Cisco Systems ($330,000), Facebook ($649,400), IBM ($97,300), Intel ($596,300), and Oracle ($398,100)

[ information cited from Center for Responsive Politics]

  • Lofgren, whose district includes southeast San Jose, is a former immigration lawyer and “an established champion of top-to-bottom immigration reform.” She’s received almost $168,000 from the 10 largest tech companies since 2017.
  • Among the bill’s cosponsors, Representative Kim Schrier, a Washington Democrat elected in 2018, received the most money from tech companies. Schrier, a pediatrician, reported almost $245,000 in contributions from the 10 companies. More than two-thirds of her total campaign contributions came from Microsoft and Amazon
  •     The measure passed the house, but was fortunately blocked in the Senate by David Purdue
  •  

Its not just individual members that are directly connected to favors for funding….Congressional Committees offer even more potential for pay to play connections. Through committees members have direct access to legislation and connections to powerful people world wide. This creates even more opportunities for money to exchange hands and line pockets.

Congressional Committees:

How Members of Congress who sit on committees “Work for the World” …allowing them to sideline the needs of their constituents for the more powerful and wealthy donors of national and international corporations.

A congressional committee is a legislative sub-organization in the United States Congress that handles a specific duty (rather than the general duties of Congress). Committee membership enables members to develop specialized knowledge of the matters under their jurisdiction

  •  it is important to note that it is not just their knowledge that is expanding. Members who sit on committees have considerably more power, and with that expanded power comes significantly more financial donations, as the committee members have significant reach on a national and even international level.

Within assigned areas, these functional subunits gather information; compare and evaluate legislative alternatives; identify policy problems and propose solutions; select, determine, and report measures for full chamber consideration; monitor executive branch performance (oversight); and investigate allegations of wrongdoing.[3]

  • procedures such as the House discharge petition process (the process of bringing a bill onto the floor without a committee report or mandatory consent from its leadership) are so difficult to implement that committee jurisdiction over particular subject matter of bills has expanded into semi-autonomous power.
  •  Of the 73 discharge petitions submitted to the full House from 1995 through 2007, only one was successful in securing a definitive yea-or-nay vote for a bill.[4]  (In other words, in order to bring a proposed legislation to a vote it almost has to originate from a committee)

There are 20 committees under the House of Representative’s and 21 under the Senate, and it can be argued that the true power of Congress is found in the committees.

As Woodrow Wilson once wrote, “it is not far from the truth to say that Congress in session is Congress on public exhibition, whilst Congress in its committee rooms is Congress at work.”

Under the 20 House Committees there are 200 subcommittees that operate to form legislation and policies that impact not only the US, but the world.

The Committee on Foreign Affairs:

This is arguably one of the most powerful committees  in congress. Those who sit on this committee have the power to send our men and women off to war and to declare war on other nations, they can wield the power of sanctions or bestow financial aid (funded by taxpayer dollars).

The following information was garnered from The Center for Responsive Politics :

116th Congress (2018 cycle)

The full committee will be responsible for oversight and legislation relating to:

  • Foreign assistance (including development assistance, Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Millennium Challenge Account, HIV/AIDS in foreign countries, security assistance, and Public Law 480 programs abroad);

a) https://www.mcc.gov/our-impact Millenium Challenge Corp.

MCC is was created under the Bush Administration and its website claims that it is committed to delivering sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction throughout the entire lifecycle of its investments. MCC’s evidence-based approach is rooted in that mission, and its comprehensive results framework seeks to measure, collect and report on the outputs, outcomes, and impacts of MCC investments.

[ the following is from the official government website, it can be seen that when President Bush created this program he did so with the mindset of calling for a “ new compact for global development” ….this is just one very transparent view of how the  US middle class tax dollars are being spent on the global community]

  • One might ask what a “government corp. actually means”? … Does this classification  allow facets like the “MCC”to exist funded by Congress ( because it is technically a government entity)…but yet also allow it to maintain utter  silence and offer no transparent accountability regarding how its finances are allocated?…
  • https://www.owler.com/company/millenniumchallengecorporation
  • claims that MCC is worth 8.7 million dollars- but has no reported funding sources- is this because it is only and directly funded by US tax dollars?
  • This is why it is critical that people understand what Congress is actually doing with your tax dollars

2) The Peace Corps;

(3) National security developments affecting foreign policy;

(4) Strategic planning and agreements;

(5) War powers, treaties, executive agreements, and the deployment and use of United States Armed Forces;

(6) Peacekeeping, peace enforcement, and enforcement of United Nations or other international sanctions;

(7) Arms control and disarmament issues;

(8) The United States Agency for International Development;

(9) Activities and policies of the State, Commerce and Defense Departments and other agencies related to the Arms Export Control Act, and the Foreign Assistance Act including export and licensing policy for munitions items and technology and dual-use equipment and technology;

(10) International law;

(11) Promotion of democracy; international law enforcement issues, including narcotics control programs and activities;

(12) Broadcasting Board of Governors;

(13) Embassy security;

(14) International broadcasting;

(15) Public diplomacy, including international communication, information policy, international education, and cultural programs;

(16) All other matters not specifically assigned to a subcommittee.

The Committee will have jurisdiction over legislation with respect to the administration of the Export Administration Act, including the export and licensing of dual-use equipment and technology and other matters related to international economic policy and trade not otherwise assigned to a subcommittee and with respect to the United Nations, its affiliated agencies and other international organizations, including assessed and voluntary contributions to such organizations. The Committee may conduct oversight with respect to any matter within the jurisdiction of the Committee as defined in the Rules of the House of Representatives.

Feel free to distribute or cite this material, but please credit the Center for Responsive Politics. For permission to reprint for commercial uses, such as textbooks, contact the Center: info@crp.org

When the list of legislative powers and spending that this committee oversees  is examined it becomes apparent that this is a very powerful Congressional Committee.

  • These are the individuals that have the power to send our young men and women into war.
  • Those who sit on this committee oversee the allocation of millions of dollars for “foreign aid, promotion of democracy and cultural programs”

It should come as no surprise that there is a long list of donors who desire to offer contributions to the members who sit on this this committee in the desire that there might be legislation passed that is favorable to the organizations/corporations that they run.

  • This is where contributions to Congressional Members becomes murky, because the decisions and legislation made by this committee impact large corporations and powerful individuals all over the world  many of the donations received by the members on this committee (and other committees as well) are not from the members constituents. Instead they are from these powerful individuals and corporations.
  • An example of this might be a member on the Foreign Affairs Committee receiving vast amounts of funding from the oil and gas industry in hopes the member might support sanctions or other actions that will keep oil and gas the most profitable that it can be for the industry…while the members constituents living in rural West Virginia would benefit from policies and legislation that would keep oil and gas prices ( and therefore profits) lower
  • It becomes very easy to understand why many people feel that their member of congress does not “represent them.” The honest answer is: no they don’t, and in many cases they aren’t trying to . The majority of their donations don’t come from their constituents, therefore it is to be expected that the majority of their votes are not cast with their constituents in mind.

The following is a list of the industries that donated to the members who sit on the Foreign Affairs Committee in the 2018 Cycle: [from the Center for Responsive Politics]

116th Congress (2018 cycle)

Top Industries

Rank Industry Total Percent to Democrats Percent to Republicans
1 Retired $6,110,448    62.7% 37.3%
2 Securities & Investment $5,268,017    69.8% 30.2%
3 Lawyers/Law Firms $5,044,287    78.2% 21.8%
4 Real Estate $4,250,212    59.1% 40.9%
5 Leadership PACs $3,263,500    41.6% 58.4%
6 Health Professionals $2,713,528    64.0% 36.0%
7 Education $2,160,745    89.7% 10.3%
8 Insurance $2,028,798    44.2% 55.8%
9 Democratic/Liberal $1,794,380    100.0% 0.0%
10 Business Services $1,362,021    78.0% 22.0%
11 Pro-Israel $1,237,170    55.9% 44.1%
12 Misc Finance $1,208,239    67.8% 32.2%
13 Republican/Conservative $1,187,859    0.0% 100.0%
14 Building Trade Unions $1,119,326    73.1% 26.9%
15 Misc Manufacturing & Distributing $1,095,498    42.9% 57.1%
16 Commercial Banks $1,074,155    42.2% 57.8%
17 Oil & Gas $1,067,783    23.8% 76.2%
18 Pharmaceuticals/Health Products $1,037,454    57.3% 42.7%
19 Candidate Committees $1,031,252    58.8% 41.2%
20 Lobbyists $987,863    49.9% 50.1%

NOTE: All the numbers on this page are for the 2017-2018 election cycle. Based on Federal Election Commission data available electronically on 06/10/2019.

\

  • When reading this list keep in the FEC guidelines on who is permitted to donate to campaigns( and who is not) ….very interesting the line drawn between “national banks” and “commercial banks” [One might argue that in  the spirit of honesty and fairness  there should not be any banks allowed to donate to political campaigns ]

Individuals Donor Corps .to the Foreign Affairs Committee [cite- Center for Responsive Politics]

16th Congress (2018 cycle)

Top Contributors

Contributor Total From Individuals From PACs
AT&T Inc $370,350 $94,350 $276,000
National Assn of Realtors $304,300 $800 $303,500
Honeywell International $268,231 $16,907 $251,324
Democracy Engine $260,291 $260,291 $0
Operating Engineers Union $259,400 $5,000 $254,400
Laborers Union $255,600 $5,100 $250,500
Comcast Corp $255,505 $45,505 $210,000
National Air Traffic Controllers Assn $249,500 $0 $249,500
National Beer Wholesalers Assn $247,400 $400 $247,000
Sheet Metal, Air, Rail & Transportation Union $246,000 $0 $246,000
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers $241,991 $791 $241,200
American Bankers Assn $231,250 $1,750 $229,500
Alphabet Inc $230,045 $143,545 $86,500
Swing Left $225,843 $225,303 $540
Lockheed Martin $222,275 $2,275 $220,000
Credit Union National Assn $220,050 $6,550 $213,500
Emily’s List $219,643 $179,643 $40,000
J Street $212,412 $193,990 $18,422
Deloitte LLP $202,224 $36,224 $166,000
National Auto Dealers Assn $201,000 $0 $201,000

EXAMINING THE DETAILS OF THE DONORS:

  • It is notable that while there are very partisan donors on this list ( Emily’s List, Democracy engine are two large  donors with very obvious political/ party related agenda’)….
  • However the top three donors to this committee are large corporations with multi-national ties and investments, but no immediate party alignment.
  • [as a side note I think this pertinent to point out, as many think that politics is fueled by party and personal attributes and issues- the said truth is DC is not run on emotive passions for issues- it is run on the crony capitalist agenda that continues to line the pockets of those at the top and take from the middle class]

Number one:

The largest corporate donor in 2018 to the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee was AT&T- with over 370,000 dollars in donations.

  • Lets explore a little deeper why that might be-

After being broken up in the mid-1980s in a landmark antitrust case, this telecommunications corporation re-formed in 2005 and became the most-used phone company in the United States. AT&T has the nation’s largest 4G network, covering close to 300 million people, and is also the largest Wi-Fi provider in the country.

Regarded as one of the top corporate political donors, AT&T operates a PAC that regularly donates millions of dollars to candidates, most of whom are members of the Republican Party. The organization lobbies extensively in Washington, primarily on matters involving telecommunications, copyright, patents and trademarks, radio and TV broadcasting and taxes.

  • It might come as a surprise that AT&T spent over 18 million dollars in lobbying expenses in the 2018 election cycle- and they are set to  top that amount in 2020 as they have already spent over 10 million and they are still a year away from the elections. [center for Responsive Politics]

Noted: while the CFRP claims that AT&T primarily donates to republicans the records suggest that it is Democrats who top their list- however, they certainly do have their hands in everyone’s pockets( you can see they have donated over 100,000 to Kamala Harris, but yet they have also contributed over 20,000 to Donald Trump)

Who AT&T  has donated to in 2019:

 Harris, Kamala $100,997 $100,997 $0
 Buttigieg, Pete $83,368 $83,368 $0
 Democratic Congressional Campaign Cmte $79,950 $64,950 $15,000
 Sanders, Bernie $75,915 $75,915 $0
 National Republican Senatorial Cmte $61,405 $1,405 $60,000
 Republican National Cmte $49,132 $4,132 $45,000
 Warren, Elizabeth $45,309 $45,309 $0
 Biden, Joe $27,983 $27,983 $0
 Booker, Cory $23,630 $23,630 $0
 Democratic Senatorial Campaign Cmte $22,664 $7,664 $15,000
 National Republican Congressional Cmte $21,885 $6,885 $15,000
 O’Rourke, Beto $21,387 $21,387 $0
 O’Rourke, Beto $21,387 $21,387 $0
 DNC Services Corp $19,722 $19,722 $0
 Kelly, Mark $18,167 $18,167 $0
 Trump, Donald $15,514 $15,514 $0
 Lujan, Ben Ray $13,751 $8,751 $5,000
 McGrath, Amy $11,450 $11,450 $0
 Hill, Katie $11,422 $11,422 $0
 American Bridge 21st Century $10,000 $10,000 $0
 Yang, Andrew $9,227 $9,227 $0
 Brady, Kevin $7,800 $2,800 $5,000
 Shore PAC $7,500 $2,500 $5,000
 Roby, Martha $7,500 $0 $7,500
 Cornyn, John $7,450 $1,450 $6,000
 Aguilar, Pete $7,300 $2,800 $4,500
 Jones, Doug $7,176 $5,176 $2,000

Why are they donating? No one gives anything away for free in DC…with that in mind what does AT&T hope to  achieve with their donations?

They are primarily lobbying for legislation that pertains to broadband taxes, communication and employment issues and at first glance those might seem as bland issues that are not really concerning to the middle class tax payer….

However, pulling back the layers of the legislation AT&T is lobbying for is very eye opening indeed:

S.J.RES.34 115 A joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to “Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services”. 17
H.R.1393 115 Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act of 2017 16
S.19 115 Wireless Telecommunications Tax and Fee Collection Fairness Act 16
H.R.2520 115 BROWSER Act of 2017 14
H.R.387 115 Email Privacy Act 13
H.R.423 115 Anti-Spoofing Act of 2017 10
H.R.588 115 Securing Access to Networks in Disasters Act 10
S.123 115 Kari’s Law Act of 2017 10
S.96 115 Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act of 2017 10
S.102 115 Securing Access to Networks in Disasters Act of 2017 10
S.134 115 Spoofing Prevention Act of 2017 10
S.1405 115 Transparency Improvements and Compensation to Keep Every Ticketholder Safe Act of 2017 9
H.R.290 115 Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2017 9
S.540 115 Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act of 2017 8
H.R.1139 115 PSC Oversight Act of 2017 8
H.R.288 115 Small Business Broadband Deployment Act 8
H.R.2997 115 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act 8
H.J.RES.86 115 Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to “Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services”. 8
H.R.1224 115 NIST Cybersecurity Framework, Assessment, and Auditing Act of 2017 8
H.R.1374 115 Arbitration Fairness Act of 2017 8
H.R.184 115 Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2018 8
S.88 115 DIGIT Act 8
H.R.599 115 Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act of 2017 8
S.277 115 Rural Telecommunications and Broadband Service Act of 2017 8
S.742 115 Community Broadband Act of 2017 8

Showing 1 to 25 of 105 entries

[cited Center for Responsive Politics]

  • When the above are bills are explored in detail it becomes apparent that just like so many other large corporations, AT&T is willing to pay millions of dollars to gain the  congressionally sanctioned ability to the following:
    •  capitalize on replacing their American workforce with foreign replacements- they want to  “mobilize their workforce”
    • they want tax breaks for bringing in foreign workers, and at the same time they want the rights to charge premium taxes and fees to those who partake of their services
    • They want to own as much of a monopoly as possible on offering their services to the the rural areas of America so that they have the ability to name their price without any competition.
    •  they want to lobby the Consumer Protection Agency to garner their good graces for instances when they are at odds with consumers….

The list goes on and on. Like so many others they are making the best of the pay to play system and they know that when it comes to asking Congress to choose between them and the middle class tax payer consumer….the odds are in their favor.

The millions AT&T spends annually is not only filling the pockets of your members of Congress and Senate, they are also providing a pretty penny for the pockets of the lobbying firms they employ:

In 2019 the  company and its subsidiary Time Warner have hired more than 20 lobbying firms to whine, dine and gift members of the congress and senate in an attempt to reach their goals:

Itemized Lobbying Expenses for AT&T Inc

Hired Firms Total Reported by Filer Reported Contract Expenses (included in Total Reported by Filer)
AT&T Inc $9,130,000
Mayer Brown LLP $340,000
Ogilvy Government Relations $240,000
Roberti Global $240,000
Wiley Rein LLP $240,000
Akin, Gump et al $240,000
Jones Group International $202,500
Fidelis Government Relations $180,000
Polaris Government Relations $180,000
Navigators Global $180,000
Capitol Counsel $170,000
Crossroads Strategies $150,000
Husch Blackwell Strategies $150,000
Mattoon & Assoc $150,000
Nickles Group $150,000
Law Offices of Bernard Wunder $135,000
Farragut Partners $100,000
Mercury Strategies $100,000
Sextons Creek $90,000
TCH Group $90,000
Gibson Group $90,000
Kevin Kayes LLC $90,000
Dunkel Government Relations $90,000
Carpenter Strategic Consulting $90,000
Clyburn Consulting $90,000
Crane Group $90,000
Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer $90,000
Capstone National Partners $60,000
Owen Evans Ingols $20,000
$4,037,500

Itemized Lobbying Expenses for Warner Media Group

Hired Firms Total Reported
by Filer
Reported Contract Expenses
(included in Total Reported by Filer)
WarnerMedia Group $1,190,000
Gonring, Spahn & Assoc $20,000
Gonring, Spahn & Assoc $20,000

The bottom line is this:  The millions of dollars that AT&T  spends to gain the upper hand is only a drop in the bucket. They are one of many, and really irrelevant in the big picture. What is critical to understand is the way the system truly works.

It is imperative that people understand the dichotomy between Republican and Democrat is largely a fake distraction used to create chaos and division, but the desire of the powers that be to continue to strip the American people of their sovereignty and ability of self determination is very real.  This can only be stopped by helping people gain the tools to see the situation clearly and to help those around them to do  the same.