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Some Facts about Money and Politics

(Lehtikuva/Antti Aimo-Koivisto/Reuters)

Jane Fonda (really) writes in the New York Times:

Let’s be clear: Over decades the fossil fuel industry has hijacked our political system, and we have failed to elect enough leaders who are not beholden to the industry’s interests. The Center for Responsive Politics has documented that the oil and gas industry alone has spent some $218 million on lobbying in 2018 and 2019. In addition, oil and gas interests have contributed about $27 million to Senate and House candidates and party committees in the 2020 election cycle. Fossil fuel interests are subverting our democracy.

About $100 million a year in lobbying is a lot of money, but it hardly puts the oil-and-gas guys at the top. There are other industries that are much bigger spenders — for example, Jane Fonda’s industry, which so far this year has spent about 40 percent more on lobbying than the entire energy sector combined and about 350 percent of what the oil-and-gas industry has spent. Does that mean that “entertainment interests are subverting our democracy?”

It is, of course, difficult to put a price on the political value of the entertainment industry’s most valuable asset: celebrity itself. Half-literate boobs who are not famous have a considerably harder time getting this kind of undigested piffle into the New York Times. It’s not like she has a Nobel Prize!

The top spenders on lobbying for 2019 can be found here. You will not see a lot of oil and gas on that list, which begins with: 1. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce; 2. The National Association of Realtors; 3. The Open Society Policy Center (cue spooky Theremin music); 4. The pharmaceuticals lobby; 5. The American Hospital Association; 6. Blue Cross Blue Shield; 7. The American Medical Association; 8. Amazon; 9. Facebook; 10. The Business Roundtable.

Here are the top overall contributors for the 2020 cycle. Also not exactly dominated by oil-and-gas interests. In fact, of the groups in the top ten, five heavily favored Democrats and five heavily favored Republicans, and none was an oil-and-gas group: They were Fahr LLC, Paloma Partners, Uline Inc., Soros Fund Management, Freedom Partners, the Laborers’ Union, the Bernard Marcus Family Foundation, Renaissance Technologies, Elliott Management, and American Action Network.

Koch Industries is way down on the list at No. 23, with less than half the spending of the Laborers’ Union.

These are easily discoverable facts. The New York Times has done a public disservice by publishing this intellectually dishonest work.

Big money isn’t subverting our democracy. Bulls*** is.

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