CEOs Ask Congress to Stop Begging for Money
Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision freeing up corporate spending on politics will have, as Kevin Drum has noted, quite a few unintended consequences, including driving up the cost of television advertising. But there will be negative consequences, too, for the very corporations who are the presumed beneficiaries of the ruling. And some of them are already fighting back:
Dozens of current and former corporate executives have a message for Congress: Quit hitting us up for campaign cash.
Roughly 40 executives from companies including Playboy Enterprises, ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s, the Seagram’s liquor company, toymaker Hasbro, Delta Airlines and Men’s Wearhouse sent a letter to congressional leaders Friday urging them to approve public financing for House and Senate campaigns. They say they are tired of getting fundraising calls from lawmakers — and fear it will only get worse after Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling.
The court ruled that corporations and unions can spend unlimited money on ads urging people to vote for or against candidates. The decision was sought by interest groups including one that represents American businesses, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They argued that restrictions on ads they could finance close to elections violated their free-speech rights, and the court agreed.
Congressional candidates who find themselves attacked by a flood of special-interest TV ads in the 2010 elections will likely reach out to their party’s biggest donors for money to help them counter the blitz.
My strong guess is that this call will go unheeded. And, indeed, that many of these signatories will reluctantly pick up the phone and write the checks.
The fact of the matter is that campaign spending works both ways. Yes, the corporations and unions and other organized groups have outsized influence in the process. But they’re also under enormous pressure to play ball, as Congress has the ability to make their lives unhappy through the regulatory process.