With the National Governors Association in town, our colleague Reid Wilson takes a look at how fundraising by governors' associations shows that, despite a recent focus on the impact of Super PACs, "there's really nothing new about corporate dollars flooding the system."
Federal campaign finance law does not allow corporations to contribute directly to a candidate or a political party. But each state regulates campaign finance rules for non-federal candidates differently. That means the three major committees focused on governors -- the Democratic Governors Association, the Republican Governors Association and the bipartisan National Governors Association -- must organize themselves under section 527 of the IRS code.
Those 527 groups, the fore-runners of today's super PAC, are legally allowed to solicit and accept contributions from corporations in any amount they wish. While President Obama and good-government groups fret over new rules that allow corporate money into federal politics, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, head of the DGA, and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who heads the RGA, are actively seeking contributions from corporations across the country. ...
One need only take a brief peek at both groups' filings with the IRS to demonstrate how successful each side's solicitations have been. The first few pages of the DGA's report reveal $350,000 from insurance giant Aetna and $50,000 from AFLAC; $85,000 from tobacco company Altria; and six-figure gifts from the American Beverage Association, AT&T and Amgen. The RGA has been combing through a very similar Rolodex; they reported similar gifts from almost all the same companies (and another $1 million from Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate funding Newt Gingrich's super PAC).