Business owners give large monetary donations to a politician’s campaign and in turn, they get legislative bills passed in their companies favour. This is often made possible by the same politicians to whom the large campaign contributions were made out too. No need to believe me now, let us now examine the inner workings of the Political favour factory.
For the purpose of this piece, we will cover two different U.S. politicians and the funds they received from federal contractors that lobbied them on various bills. We would have focused on Canadian politics however, under the Trudeau administration Canada’s auditor general is lacking the funds to do the basic audits required to hold the governments financial decisions to account.
It equally angering when you discover Canada’s auditor general currently has to operate on a DOS operating system, which was deemed obsolete in the mid 1990’s. This is not only a security risk, but a downright assault on the accountability of Canada’s politicians and their financial decisions.
First, let us start with representative Jim Larson (D) who serves on the House Ways and Means committee. The Ways and Means committee is the oldest committee of the United States Congress and is the chief tax writing in the House Of Representatives. Larson is also the former chairman of the House Democratic caucus.
A total of eight presidents, eight vice presidents, and 21 House Speakers, as well as four Supreme Court Justices have served on the Ways and Means committee. Larson, being in a position of great influence was lobbied by the Fortune 100 company, United Technologies Corporation. In total Mr. Larson received $377,050 over four years from United Technologies Corporation (UTX), but what did UTX get in return for all their campaign contributions to Mr. Larson?
Don’t you worry, the return on investment was far greater than any cash used to lobby Mr. Larson! From 2014 to 2018, $83.8 million dollars in federal subsidies (grants) were given to UTX, in addition to the 16.1 billion UTX secured in federal contracts during this time.
So how involved was Mr. Larson in helping UTX? Since 2010, Larson personally co-sponsored 19 bills for which UTX registered lobbying activity. One of these bills, H.R 880 allowed for increased tax credits for large corporations that engage in research, a core component of the UTX mission.
It appears that United Technologies spent $377,050 in donations on Mr. Larson’s campaign over four years in order to have access to a politician that would sponsor bills to their companies benefit. The most egregious part of this — none of it’s illegal!
Open The Books once reached out to representative Larson and received no response.
This is just one example of a conflict of interest. Now let us look at Mr. Larson’s wife who was hired in lieu of 198 other candidates for an administrative position at Connecticut Innovations.
At Connecticut Innovations, many executives, board members, and the state agency itself benefit from federal payments. As the local congressman Mr. Larson was elected to oversee all federal activity in his district, meaning Connecticut Innovations would be under his purview. From 2012 to 2018 Ms. Larson has earned more than $600,000 in cash compensation during her employment with Connecticut Innovations.
Now let’s move on to another politician, U.S representative Jim Cooper (D). Mr. Cooper’s number one campaign donor is Vanderbilt University. Vanderbilt University even distributed and published Rep. Jim Cooper’s “A College Students Guide To Voting In Nashville” on the college website ahead of his midterm elections.
A pretty big favour from Vanderbilt to Mr. Cooper don’t you think? One thing is certain, nothing is free in this world. So, what did Vanderbilt University receive for their contributions to Rep. Cooper’s campaign? Between 2014 to 2018, Vanderbilt received 2.2 billion in federal grants and subsidies. To make matters worse, Rep. Cooper has gone above and beyond for his number one campaign contributor, going as far to deliver a talk at Vanderbilt University titled “Key To Federal Support” in 2013.
Later in 2017, Vanderbilt admitted that their congressional delegation including Rep. Cooper had played a big role in securing the federal funding for the university.
Just like representative Larson, Rep. Cooper works hard for his number one campaign donor. Mr. Cooper has personally sponsored one bill, and co-sponsored nine bills that Vanderbilt lobbied for between 2010 to 2018.
Other potential conflicts of interest for Rep. Cooper include a 33 per cent stake in Cooper Bros Land Company. Cooper Bros Land Company received $108,000 in Federal agricultural subsidies from fiscal year (FY) 2009 to FY 2015, which included payments from conservative reserve programs. Rep. Cooper and Vanderbilt University both gave no response to openthebooks.com when reached for comment.
Information is power, so why do so few in the world know about the inner workings of their countries political systems? We can’t fix a problem if we don’t know it exists. So, now the challenge lye’s with you the reader, if you don’t agree with the rich and privileged being able to lobby politicians in their favour, like and share this article.
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