Energy company Chevron has found a loophole in campaign finance law that allows the company, which is also a government contractor, donate to political candidates, reported Craig Holman of The Hill.
According to what’s known as the “pay-to-play” law, “It shall be unlawful for any person . . . who enters into any contract with the United States . . . to make any such contribution to any political party, committee, or candidate for public office or to any person for any political purpose or use . . . . “ (2 USC 441c).
Pay-to-play entails a contractor giving money to a candidate, PAC, or any other political group in hopes of getting big government contracts. The process doesn’t mean outright bribery per se, but it increases the chances for a company to get a contract for government work. The more one company gives will create a greater chance of landing a government contract.
In 2012, Chevron contributed $2.5 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC for House Republicans. Campaign watchdog group Public Citizen filed a complaint against Chevron. The Federal Elections Committee overruled the complaint citing “that as long as Chevron creates separate legal entities within the same corporate family – even if only on paper – a Chevron entity that does not itself receive a government contract may tap into the corporate treasury for making campaign contributions on behalf of the company.”
In short, Chevron can create any entity it wants to donate money to political causes, provided that that entity itself isn’t seeking government contracts. To break it down even more, the contract-seeking portion of a company allows the non-contract-seeking portion access to funds that are to be used for contributions. Nothing changes except the hand that actually signs the check.
More specifically, as The Hill noted, the Chevron Policy, Government & Public Affairs division gave one millions dollars to campaigns, and Chevron U.S.A. obtains the actual contracts worth billions of dollars in taxpayer money.
The FEC needs to recognize this loophole and close it, quickly. Should knowledge of the loophole become more widespread, the monster created by the Citizens United decision will become bigger and hairier. Unless the FEC does something, as Holman puts it, “the integrity of the government contracting process is in dire risk – and so, too, will be our taxpayer dollars.”
Money doesn’t facilitate the freedom of speech but rather stifles it. The more money that is allowed in politics, the more the voices of the People get muffled.