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Firms hush on political campaign giving

Stacey Vanek Smith Sep 8, 2010
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Giving money iStockPhoto

Firms hush on political campaign giving

Stacey Vanek Smith Sep 8, 2010
Giving money iStockPhoto
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TEXT OF STORY

JEREMY HOBSON: As the recession drags on, people are still cutting back on purchases. But that isn’t the case when it comes to political spending. Candidates are setting fundraising records this year. And while Corporate America is certainly giving its share, it’s not doing so in a very straightforward way.

Marketplace’s Stacey Vanek-Smith explains.


STACEY VANEK-SMITH: Companies are giving more to political campaigns, but they’re being quiet about it. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court lifted restrictions on how much money companies could pour into political ads.

But don’t expect to see ads knocking your local senator brought to you by Wal-Mart says Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at University of Virgina. He says companies don’t want to be seen politicking.

LARRY SABATO: The last thing a company wants to do is alienate shareholders or customers.

Sabato points to the customer backlash Target saw after contributing money to ads supporting a Republican candidate for governor. But the Supreme Court’s decision also lifted content and timing restrictions on political ads for trade associations and union groups.

Campaign finance lawyer Michael Toner says that has companies donating a lot more money to those groups.

MICHAEL TONER: That really opened up optimal advertising opportunities for trade associations and social welfare groups.

Toner says we’ll see the effect of that money in the next eight weeks.

I’m Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.

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