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Bailed Out Companies Give Donations to Republicans

We know that all the money sloshing around on TV will culminate in a last-week push to flood the airwaves with anti-Democratic messages. Basically, a series of outside groups are coordinating their spending together, apart from the party infrastructure and outside of any meaningful campaign finance constraints. They’ve gone completely around the RNC, seen as ineffectual under Michael Steele, as well as the campaign committees, eliminating the middle man in an attempt to purchase the midterm elections directly. This has allowed poor candidates with no fundraising capacity the chance to win without firing a shot:

A vivid picture of how outside groups are helping Republicans across the country can be found here in central Florida. The incumbent Democrat, Representative Suzanne M. Kosmas, had a nearly four-to-one fund-raising advantage over her Republican challenger, State Representative Sandy Adams, at the end of September.

Ms. Adams, low on cash, has not run a single campaign commercial. But a host of outside groups have swept in to swamp Ms. Kosmas with attack ads, helping establish Ms. Adams as the favorite without her having to spend on television.

I’ve said before and will say again that I question exactly how effective all the ad money will end up being. I can count the states where advertising has actually turned around races so far this cycle on one hand – mainly, Joe Sestak’s advertising in Pennsylvania, which is home to the second-highest concentration of older Americans than any other state. I don’t get the sense that others have the same television viewing habits or that they get the bulk of their candidate information from such sources. I think the national mood contributes a lot more to what will happen on Election Day, something that gestated much longer than at the last minute in an orgy of campaign spending. The outside groups may take credit for a Republican takeover, when reality is actually quite different.

What we can all agree on is the obscenity of watching bailed-out companies, coddled and protected by a Democratic Administration after delivered the laissez-faire regulation to speculate wildly by a Republican one, spend big on campaigns. And not surprisingly, most of that money is flowing to the party of big business.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) was a fierce critic of the federal bailout of General Motors and Chrysler last year, saying he could not “ask the American taxpayer to subsidize failure.”

But GM doesn’t seem to hold a grudge.

The political action committee formed by the company, which is now largely owned by taxpayers, cut McConnell a $5,000 campaign check in September, a small piece of the $190,000 it donated to campaigns in the past month […]

It is not alone: Companies that received federal bailout money, including some that still owe money to the government, are giving to political candidates with vigor. Among companies with PACs, the 23 that received $1 billion or more in federal money through the Troubled Assets Relief Program gave a total of $1.4 million to candidates in September, up from $466,000 the month before.

Most of those donations are going to Republican candidates, although the TARP program was approved primarily with Democratic support. President Obama expanded it to cover GM and other automakers.

This would have been expressly forbidden by the DISCLOSE Act, by the way, a provision that was wildly popular. In case you needed another reason to determine why Republicans blocked that law.

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David Dayen

David Dayen