Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.

Donate
Topics

PAC gifts: Sometimes they clash with stated corporate values

A nice analysis by Dave Leonhardt shows money flowing through corporate PACs of companies that claim to support LGBTQ rights as a matter of corporate philosophy — to candidates who oppose LGBTQ rights.

Corporations are made-up things. They do not occur in nature. A corporation is, to a substantial degree, a legal fiction that allows a private company to get some of the benefits of human individuals, and some of the benefits of a non-human business. Over history, the benefits of being a “corporation” have grown and grown, while the disadvantages have all but gone away.

One of the disadvantages used to be that corporations couldn’t participate directly in politics. But that “disadvantage” has gone substantially away in the age of Political Action Committees (PACs), which enable the leaders and executives of a corporation to band together, put huge sums together, and contribute it to aid political parties and campaigns. You’d have to squint pretty hard to see that as something other than a loophole by which corporations can participate in politics.

Corporations like to claim to have “values” other than maximizing profits. Many big American companies have values statements endorsing various kinds of diversity, including support for LGBTQ rights.

All this is leading up to passing along a nice analysis by Dave Leonhardt of the New York Times of money flowing through corporate PACs of companies that claim to support LGBTQ rights as a matter of corporate philosophy — to candidates who oppose LGBTQ rights in every meaningful way as a matter of government policy.

Article continues after advertisement

There’s an old saying that money talks while something else walks. The something else is a rude term for the excrement of bulls.

It would be reasonable to ask whoever is in charge running those corporate PACs, and deciding which candidates should get the very significant benefit of corporate PAC donations, whether the corporation is putting its efforts behind its claimed values or its profits. Leonhardt tried asking that question and got something that loops back to the bull excrement.

Here’s Leonhardt’s piece. (You’ll see it’s not an actual column but a few paragraphs he writes introducing links to various offerings from that day’s Times columnists.

In case you don’t click through, here are the first few paragraphs:

Virginia Foxx, a member of Congress from North Carolina, has a long record of opposing gay rights. She has gone so far as to claim that Matthew Shepard — a college student murdered in a hate crime — was not killed because he was gay. At one point, she used the word “hoax.”

Nonetheless, the executives of Comcast, the media company, have decided that Foxx deserves the company’s support: It recently donated money to Foxx’s political action committee.

Doug Collins, a House member from Georgia, is also an opponent of gay rights. He has argued, bizarrely, that a ban on workplace discrimination would somehow hurt “women, lesbians, and families.” Still, Home Depot has decided to support Collins financially.

Senator Marsha Blackburn, from Tennessee, opposes marriage equality and supports President Trump’s efforts to keep transgender Americans out of the military. AT&T recently gave her thousands of dollars.

Article continues after advertisement

This list could go on. FedEx, General Electric, Pfizer, UBS, UPS and Verizon have all given significant financial backing to members of Congress who oppose L.G.B.T. rights.

Yet every one of these companies also claims to support L.G.B.T. equality.