Some Corporations Signing Up to Give to TN Politicians

More than a year in advance of the 2012 Tennessee general election, some corporations have begun filing the necessary paperwork to make direct contributions to state political candidates as authorized by a law enacted earlier this year by the Legislature.
Also, the Registry of Election Finance has issued a memo, posted on its website, in response to “numerous questions” about the law, which says that corporations wanting to make a donation of more than $250 must register as a political action committee and file reports on the contributions they make.
Companies donating that amount or less to individual candidates need not register, according to Drew Rawlins, executive director of the Registry.
There’s another, larger exemption from registration for corporations that only want to give money to other PACs, including those operated by legislative leaders and the Democratic and Republican parties.
The contribution limits that apply to PACs also apply to corporations in the case of donations to candidates. For state Senate candidates, for example, the limit is $10,700 per election or $21,400 for the primary and general election combined.
But, as the memo says, “The amount of contributions the corporation may make to a PAC(s) is unlimited.” In theory, then, a corporation could donate millions of dollars to the state Republican or Democratic party if it wished and the party could then spend the money making contributions to legislative candidates.
The candidate, PAC or party receiving the money would have to report taking the donations from corporations. Any such contributions since the law took effect, however, will not have to be reported until January of next year.
The handful of corporations registering so far include Daiichi Sankyo Inc., the U.S. affiliate of a Tokyo-based pharmaceutical company; gasoline-producer ConocoPhillips; California-based Allergen Inc., a health care company focused on pharmaceuticals; Comcast Corp., a cable TV company; and Swisher International, a Florida-based cigar producer.
A reporter’s inquiries to some of the companies last week were generally ignored. An exception was Joe Augustus, senior vice president of Swisher, who sent this email response:
“Swisher does not have state PACs so corporate contributions are our only way to support business-minded legislators who share our companies business philosophy in TN. This is not uncommon in other states where we do business.”
Comcast already has an active PAC in Tennessee. Curtis Person III, who represents the company as a lobbyist, said he could not speak for the company on why it would want both, but would relay the request for comment to corporate officials. There was no response from them.

One thought on “Some Corporations Signing Up to Give to TN Politicians

  1. Tony Gottlieb

    I can tell Curtis Person III why Comcast would want to both register a PAC and give direct corporate contribution to political campaigns.
    With the virtual monopoly Comcast continues to enjoy in the State, only cold cash could convince anyone, including an elected lawmaker or state regulator, that their customer service and product in general isn’t as flawed as it is.

Leave a Reply