How Big Donors Drove Tax Reform

There was big news this week on the money in politics front. Recent Federal Election Commission filings show that less than two weeks after the House passed the tax bill, Charles and Elizabeth Koch each donated $247,700 to Paul Ryan’s super PAC, Team Ryan. The same day, they lavished another $406,800 on the National Republican Congressional Committee. Major donors Marlene Ricketts, Vernon Hill, and Jeff Hildebrand also piled on $100,000 each.

During the debate over the contentious proposal, a few members of Congress lifted the veil by admitting that donors played a big role in driving support for the unpopular bill. Congressman Chris Collins from New York didn’t mince words: “My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.” Senator Lindsey Graham explained that if they didn’t pass the bill “the financial contributions will stop,” and Josh Holmes, former chief of staff for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “The donor class has concluded . . . that the inaction of this administration and congress is totally unacceptable.” One major donor declared the “Dallas piggy bank” is closed until either Obamacare repeal or tax reform got done.

Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident. The influence of big donors has been rising steadily since the Supreme Court issued its ruling in the Citizens United case, and the issue of money in politics affects candidates on both sides of the aisle. Big donors often hedge their bets by donating to both parties. For example, Facebook donated massive amounts to the committees that hosted both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in 2016, and the American Petroleum Institute, big oil’s trade association, did the same. The average voter just can’t compete with these mega-donors when it comes to campaign contributions and spending.

To find out more, check out our latest video on money in politics.

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