The Intercept: These House Democrats Pledged Not to Take Corporate Cash — But They’re Using a Loophole to Do It Anyway
The Intercept: These House Democrats Pledged Not to Take Corporate Cash — But They're Using a Loophole to Do It Anyway
JASON CROW WAS one of the victorious Democrats who ran in last year’s midterm election on a promise to reject campaign cash controlled by business interests. In one of his first television commercials in the campaign, Crow, now a member of Congress from Colorado, touted his pledge not “to take a dime of corporate PAC money.” Recent campaign finance filings reveal that, about two weeks after being sworn into office, Crow accepted $5,000 from the American Hospital Association PAC, which represents public and private hospital companies across the country.
The Colorado Democrat is one of several newly elected House Democrats to have run on a pledge to eschew corporate money, but have found a broad loophole to begin collecting funds from political action committees affiliated with big business.
Democrats harnessed the pledge to take no corporate money as part of a commitment to reduce the influence of special interests in Washington. The candidates — some now elected officials — are part of a wave of progressive Democrats harnessing grassroots energy and discontent with politics as usual. …
Some Democrats who pledged not to take corporate PAC money are leveraging the different FEC designations to stay true to the letter of their promises while violating their spirit.
Paul S. Ryan, the vice president of Common Cause, which opposes corporate money in politics, noted that the differences between corporate trade association and corporate are minor at best.
“Importantly, a corporate PAC can solicit contributions from its stockholders and executive or administrative personnel,” said Ryan. “Likewise, a trade association PAC can solicit contributions from the stockholders and executive or administrative personnel of the member corporations of such trade association.”
“If a candidate has pledged not to take corporate PAC funds, I would expect that candidate to likewise forego trade association PAC funds because the money’s coming from the same place: corporate stockholders, executives and administrative personnel,” added Ryan. “A candidate can cite a technical distinction between corporate and trade association PACs in an effort to wiggle out of the pledge, but there’s no principled distinction between the two.”