Is There Such a Thing as a Partisan Corporation?

Two pro-Democratic sites — and — think so, and they’re discouraging fellow partisans from patronizing stores whose campaign contributions tilt primarily toward the opposition:

Some Put Money Where Their Politics Are (WaPo)

Raven Brooks is making his Christmas list, but he is less concerned with what to buy than where to shop.

Brooks is one of a small group of frustrated Democrats who met while commiserating online after President Bush defeated Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.). Disenchanted and desperate for a voice, they started The two-week-old Web site lists the political contributions of major companies to encourage people to shop at stores and buy products from businesses that supported Democratic candidates.

“If you are a progressive or a liberal, you won’t be represented adequately by this administration, or this Congress,” Martha Ture, a co-founder of, said. As for what Democrats do have, she said, “We have our wallets.”

Ann Duvall and her husband, Bill, had the same idea. The semi-retired Silicon Valley couple started The bare-bones Web site lists companies and urges people to vote with their pocketbooks when they buy gifts, shop for groceries or fill up at the gas station.

“We wanted to have our voices heard, and felt that one way of doing that was to direct our spending towards companies who support . . . the candidates and issues in which we believe,” Ann Duvall writes on the Web site.

Though they’re all well-intentioned, their logic has problems, according to experts:

Alex Knott, political editor at the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group in Washington, warned that the information “may not be as telling as they think it is.” Knott said corporate America’s political spending is foremost a business decision. “Donations are not actually given on a partisan level,” he said. “Most of the time, it’s incumbent versus non-incumbent.”

Often, major corporate donors give to both parties to hedge their bets. The Center for Public Integrity found that four of the top 10 contributors to Bush and Kerry were the same.

“A lot of corporate givers are very pragmatic,” said Lawrence M. Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. “They want to make sure they can get access.”

The Center for Responsive Politics runs, the primary source of data for both and, but it does not endorse the message of either Web site.

Noble said, “It’s an interesting use of the data.”

As a former analyst in the lobbying division of a major Fortune 500 company, I can personally attest to these assessments. Nothing frightens a corporation like the thought of having their interests on dangerous political ground. As such, they take every precaution to ensure that they have influence, which means that their loyalties either easily switch or remain balanced. That particular corporations are donating more to the Republican Party than to the Democratic Party right now says more about GOP dominance in national politics than about their partisan preferences.

Sure, there are certain corporations like Coors that, by virtue of their history and recognizable leadership, probably have more leanings than their counterparts. But, on average, corporations don’t really care who they give to — so long as their interests are protected or advanced. Indeed, on many occasions, they’re quite happy to donate to both parties as a way of hedging their bets. They start tilting one way when it becomes counterproductive to distribute equally, since you can normally get a pretty good idea of who’s favored to win, especially when incumbents are involved.

FILED UNDER: General, Politics 101
Robert Garcia Tagorda
About Robert Garcia Tagorda
Robert blogged prolifically at OTB from November 2004 to August 2005, when career demands took him in a different direction. He graduated summa cum laude from Claremont McKenna College with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and earned his Master in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.


  1. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Microsoft learned to their sorrow that you can not sit out the dance. They know now, after having their worth trimmed a few billion bucks, that you can’t snub City Hall.

  2. Absolutely, Walter.

  3. Bithead says:

    Perhaps the poeple involved have not considered the backlash.

    I’ve already urged my readers to heed the list, and not support whom they suggest should be supported.

  4. ken says:

    Hooter’s contributions go 97% to the republicans while Barnes & Noble’s go 98% to the democrats. This tells you all you need to know about bithead, his readers, and the republican party.

  5. McGehee says:

    So, Ken, what you’re saying is that Republicans are a bunch of raving heterosexuals?

    Are we supposed to be insulted by this?

  6. Attila Girl says:

    I just don’t think the people behind this have really thought it through: there are a lot of very popular “blue state” retailers, too, and if there is a purchasing war, they are going to be hurt just as badly.

    It isn’t a good idea.

  7. anjin-san says:

    This Democrat has nothing against Hooters…