Political Donors Seek Return On Investment Through Tax "Reform"

Posted by Dale Eisman on November 10, 2017


Sometimes the truth emerges from the most unlikely places.

Two senior Republican lawmakers acknowledged this week that campaign donors are a critical force behind their party’s drive to lower corporate and individual tax rates while eliminating or limiting several popular tax deductions.

If the tax “reform” effort fails, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, told NBC, “the party fractures, most incumbents in 2018 will get a severe primary challenge, a lot of them will probably lose, the base will fracture, the financial contributions will stop. Other than that, I’ll be fine.”

In the House, Rep. Chris Collins, R-NY, offered this admission: "My donors are basically saying, 'Get it done or don't ever call me again.'

Graham and Collins, like many members of Congress in both political parties, rely heavily on executives and corporate-connected political action groups to finance their political campaigns. Graham’s top five contributors since 2013 are tied to, in order, Lockheed Martin, General Electric, Morgan Stanley, Rdl Inc., and Elliott Management. Collins’ most generous donors include Charter Communications, the Credit Union National Association, and General Electric.

The comments from Graham and Collins echo a Politico report last month that chronicled unrest among GOP donors over the lack of progress toward passage of a new tax bill.

“The GOP leaders should know, no movement on remaining agenda: tax reform, infrastructure, deregulation, etc. means no funding from supporters like me,” one prominent donor who asked to remain anonymous wrote in an email to Politico. “No meetings, calls, contributions until we see progress.”

The website’s story described a tense GOP dinner this fall at the home of Los Angeles billionaire Robert Day. “In full view of around two dozen guests, Thomas Wachtell, a retired oil and gas investor and party contributor, delivered an urgent message to the night’s headliner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: Just do something.”

“Anybody who was there knew that I was not happy,” Wachtell said. “And I don’t think anybody was happy. How could you be? You’re never going to get a more sympathetic Republican than I am. But I’m sick and tired of nothing happening.”

Another major donor, Houston-based energy executive Dan Eberhart, told Politico he’s looking for a return in the tax bill on the support he’s provided to GOP candidates over the years.  

"When you’re in a business and you tell your stakeholders you’re going to build a building or something, you have to follow through," Eberhart said. "I can’t borrow money to build a building and then not follow through, which is what these guys are doing.”

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Office: Common Cause National

Issues: Money in Politics

Tags: Fighting Big Money

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