PACs and Lobbyists versus Individual Donations

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Cleverboy, Apr 14, 2008.

  1. Cleverboy macrumors 65816

    Cleverboy

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    #1
    Okay, recently FACTCHECK.ORG posted an article that tries to call Obama to the mat for saying that he doesn't take money from oil companies. Here's the article:
    http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/obamas_oil_spill.html
    They note that:
    Now... I'm scratching my head, because as much as I've read this article, and as many places love to repeat these talking points, it doesn't come across as "balanced" reporting. I find myself waiting for the other "shoe" to drop in clearing the statement up. They say that "corporations" can't donate many to campaigns... so they form PACs, which are comprised of individual donors to that special interest. The PACs are limited in what they can donate to a candidate, but can spend however much they like on ads in support of them.

    FactCheck.org asserts that there is virtually NO difference between accepting money from a lobbyist or PAC and accepting money from a collection of individual donors... except that with individuals, they can give MORE. Is that right? Because, I'm left wondering WHY PACs and lobbyists even donate at all, if they can donate money without being restricted to $5,000 by simply appearing as a collection of individuals.

    Does this make any sense to anyone?
    A tighter, though less flatteringly named version of the issue appears here:
    http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/oily_words.html

    Here they note:
    Does it even make sense to count individuals as "the oil industry", simply because they "work for", are "married to an employee of", or "work in same building as an oil lobbyist"? That type of logic seems entirely screwed up.

    Conceptually speaking, they're not saying Obama should NOT take these donations, but that if he doesn't block donations from anyone connected with the oil industry, then he can't say he doesn't take the money OF the industry.

    Personally, my impression is that PACs and lobbyists exist specifically to INFLUENCE candidates, but that individual donations, regardless of the employer provide no such clear cut distinction regarding the nature of a candidates' support.

    I've tried to Google FactCheck.org for any extended opinion on how they view PACs and lobbyists, but I couldn't find anything more. I did however find some nice Wikipedia articles on PACs and lobbyists however.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_action_committee
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lobbying

    I've heard a number of critics note that Obama's distinctions about lobbyists are misguided, but they've never amounted to anything substantive, and when both he and Edwards were saying it, it came across far more substantially. I like FactCheck.org, but this one issue has come across as very very odd to me.

    ~ CB
     
  2. stevento macrumors 6502

    stevento

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    #2
    barack obama is absolutely full of plop on this issue
    he doesn't take money from pacs/lobbyists but he has taken millions from spouses, children, parents and secrateries of lobbyists.
     
  3. SMM macrumors 65816

    SMM

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    #3
    Do you make political contributions? I do, for many candidates. There is a section where you must confirm the monies are yours, and have not been provided to you for that purpose. You must also give your employers name. Now, when a candidate raises funds from individuals, they will probably represent a vast cross-section of businesses and industries. Obama has received (according to the article) $213,000 in contributions from individuals who work in the oil industry. He has raised ~$250,000,000 total. Do the math and it is an infinitesimal amount.

    There is no story here.
     
  4. elcid macrumors 6502

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    #4
    I totally see a difference in individual vs pac funding. As long as someone is donating within the limits of the law then peoples titles shouldn't come into play.

    I think he can say that he doesn't accept it from oil companies as long as they are individuals and not politically affiliated. If a guy that owns a BP station donates should it be made news? Where do you draw the line. VP and higher? Manager and higher?
     
  5. stevento macrumors 6502

    stevento

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    #5
    i dont mean corporations, i mean pacs and lobbyists. he draws completely artificial distinctions and says i dont take their money.
    hillary doesn't lie about the money she takes
    and yes i gave her $10 last month, and i checked off the boxes saying it was legal but i could've easily lied on that.
     
  6. Cleverboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Cleverboy

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    #6
    Well, there's actually a point to my post. I'm asking YOU or anyone else to answer a serious question. IS there a distinction? The idea that someone is getting money from PACs and lobbyists is something Hillary Clinton has said is inconsequential. I've seen at least one interview with a lobbyist who, not surprisingly agreed with her. However John Edwards AND Barack Obama made a point of saying that lobbyists and PACs have really put the screws to Washington, and that influencing candidates to go against what's BEST for America, and to do what's BEST for their financial interests... is something that's a very important reason why the system is broken. --Now, Steve... you're saying that BOTH John Edwards AND Barack Obama are full of crap on this issue. Why? I'd really like to know.

    The implication of late, has been that the COMPANIES that people work for, is JUST as important (if not moreso), than whether they are registered as a Federal Lobbyist. I don't quite buy that.

    I mean, aren't these rules, listed on Barack Obama's "donation" page more than ample enough to disqualify contributions not given under the auspices and political intent of a business or industry interest... at least as much as is feasible in the real world? As much as I scratch my head, I can't quite envision how pointing out how lawyers that work for lobbyists or children of lobbyists or anyone else can't donate to a candidate... without having someone impune that candidate simply by a quick game of 6 degrees of separation. I think that's just stupid.

    For the record, here's Clinton's donate form agreement:
    If it doesn't matter, why's it markedly different? Are Obama's extra details just superficial? Or are they just for appearances? It strikes me that the extra's on Obama's form may have no real binding obligation... so, who's to say in the end, except that he tried to dissuade such contributions made on behalf of such entities?

    I don't think the system is perfect, but I think it DOES mean something that someone (a candidate) at least TRIES to push out "influence pedalling" a little more. The only thing I'd completely CRUCIFY my candidate of choice on... regarding this issue, is if there was ample cause or evidence that they were involved in suggesting lobbyists or corporate interest should actively ochestrate employees to donate toward their interests... so as to AVOID regulations that prevent this... OTHERWISE, these are just individuals. I could work for Walmart, and still vote for someone who says they'll make sure Walmart pays living wages or that Walmart is a good corporate citizen. Why not? ALSO, theoretically, repealing oil company tax cuts doesn't sound like its going to immediately make them lay me off. --A lobbyist might care however.

    I'm a little more interested in accusations that at least two corporate executives from the oil industry have held fund raisers for Obama.

    I'd like to hear more about this. I don't think its a foregone conclusion that oil industry executives wouldn't want to get on the "right side" of an issue, but it would certainly depend on the executive and their OWN track record and accountability to their company. I know for a fact that oil companies aren't entirely one dimensional in their pursuit of new revenue sources (alternative energy leverage). I'm hoping their recent purchases of some of the latest technologies in bio-energy don't simply get put on shelves like the battery technology detailed in "Who Killed the Electric Car". More information is needed though.

    I don't believe in listing vague facts and forcing people to draw conclusions about said vague facts without additional pointers. You'd think FactCheck.org's articles would be footnoted so that we'd know which page on Obama's site listed the donors, or what their names were so anyone could find out more details about these people. Unless details are bad.

    ~ CB
     
  7. NAG macrumors 68030

    NAG

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    #7
    I agree with you. Using donations given under those rules as evidence that the rules were broken is circular reasoning. Until evidence can be shown that the money had some sort of influence on his policy you just have to live with him getting money from people connected in some way to an oil company. It's like a twisted game of six degrees of Kevin Bacon.
     

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