Inquiry Looks Into a Shield for Donors in Elections

The attorney general of New York is investigating contributions to tax-exempt groups that are heavily involved in political campaigns, focusing on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Comments: 113

  1. Thank you, AG Schneiderman. We need legal transparency in this post Citizens United nation. We need to overturn this decision in order to restore democracy to our nation.

  2. what a joke. transparent as a brick wall, just like fast and furious, GAO bath parties and OH yes, the obamacare bill passed on Christmas Eve.

  3. Joe, do you guys ever get out of attack mode? Ever, just once?

  4. Why are these obviously political organizations tax-exempt? Just like the supposedly non-political Catholic Church - they are 100% engaged in the overthrow of democracy.

  5. Every year since I filed my first income tax return 48 years ago, the IRS instructions have listed political contributions as non-deductible. And now this.... is there truth in ANYTHING our Government tells us?

  6. And why is the AG not also investigating Media Matters? A display of partisanship maybe?

  7. For what would investigate? Are they donating to campaigns in a shadowy way? Not sure what you mean by your comment.

  8. Any place we can get hold of the vicious beast unleashed by the Supreme Court in Citizens United (and confirmed yesterday) is a place we should tenaciously grasp.

    We're being played for fools by this activist Court and New York's attorneys general are about the only parties willing to do so.

    Go Schneiderman

  9. I see that you are so opposed to corporations using their money to influence our elections that you came voluntarily to this corporate web site to immerse yourself in this corporation's political bias of all things liberal, including endorsing specific candidates for office, using **unlimited** corporate money to do so.

  10. Wouldn't it be nice if the Koch brothers used their money to create a web site where all could freely express their opinions, like Jerry Muskin and Steve B do. The problem is that they don't. Theirs is a one sided view and the power behind that expression is enormous.

  11. Why can corporations deduct PAC donations from their income tax?

    How could the Supreme Court jokers, actually, have given "person" status to corporations?

    Since unions must now get approval from their members for political contributions, why aren't corporations required to get approval from their shareholders for political contributions?

    I have been told that there have been past Supreme Courts that have been as divisive and political as this one, but I abhor having a contemporary Supreme Court functioning as a wing of the Republican Party.

    Are these misanthropes going to take healthcare away from 39 million people?

    Scalia! Alito! I am embarrassed that we share the same heritage.

  12. My maternal Grandfather who came from Southern Italy as an orphan in 1885 and worked in the coal mines of Scranton at age 14, 13 days on one day off, 12 hours a day for $5 dollars a week always said his life was saved when the unions formed and changed the working conditions in the mines dramatically. Locked in a room with either Scalito or Alito, traitors of the working class, he would have ground out his stubby parodi on the their face.

  13. Can corporations deduct PAC donations from their federal tax? I don't know, but I doubt it, because the PACs are not organized under the federal or state tax-exempt organization laws. (I am, by the way, vehemently opposed to the Citizens United ruling, but let's stick to facts, please.

  14. About time. Keep up the good work.

  15. Time for a constitutional amendment. The Supremes have gone too far. Corporations are people? Really? Money is free speech. Really?

    If we want to move toward a democracy, we had better amend the constitution or better yet, have a constitutional convention. Continue down the same path we are headed, we are doomed.

    And the worse thing is...we only have ourselves to blame. Our voter turn out is pathetic and we are voting against our own self interest because of the media, lack of good education, too busy working too many jobs etc.

    It doesn't look good for our future. The rich have figured out that the global economy is where it's at and they can make all the money they want off shore so they really don't need the American people any more. Therefore, they have outsourced the work and are laughing all the way to the bank. And we, the middle class, get left holding the bag which of course we no longer can because unemployment is high, wages are trending down, cost of living is trending up and something has to give. Oh, and the rich and the corporations don't pay their fair share and so that saved money is used to finance all these conservative politicians to keep things that way or make it worse for the average person in this country. And we help them do all this by electing Republicans.

    OH, my.

  16. People cannot claim political contributions as tax deductible. If corporations are people, how can they claim tax exemptions??

  17. Individuals (people) who conduct business as a sole proprietor can claim deductions for reasonable business expenses which may include lobbying for their interests.

  18. how can they claim tax exemptions??

    Pretty much the same way unions do.

  19. Both Steve and q2q3 are operating from the premise that donations to PACs are tax deductible. I doubt that very much. q2q3, lobbying expenses are a business expense, but a contribution to a PAC is not lobbying. and, q2qa3, do unions claim tax exemptions? I think unions are probably already tax-exempt, not being profit-making organizations, so they would not need a tax exemption.

  20. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is for business only. They have no obligation as a group or the individuals that work for it to behave in a moral or ethical way. Money is their g-d. Only you and I are expected to be honest, moral, caring and all that other good stuff. Somehow that strikes me as unfair.

  21. And many americans actually believe we have a democracy. No Andy, believe absolutely nothing the government states. *The people are so stupid, just keep telling them the same slogans (propaganda) and they will believe it.* , Adolf Hitler. None so stupid as americans it seems. As recent article in Pravda/ru , americans are so soaked in evil hatred they can no longer think, or even use common sense.

  22. Andy Hain, Why are we so eager to blame the Gov. ? The gov. can't cover all the bases with special interest groups and cheaters lawyers finding loopholes in the law. The cheater talked about in the article is chamber of the GOP (commerce, or lack of commerce). They worked the law by claiming the donation was a loan which they claimed the paid interest on. The IRS should have denied it. The issue should be their tax exempt status. You should be able to raise $ for any cause ie heart association etc. but direct solicitation should be illegal. people should donate because they believe in the cause not because they received a call @ 9:00pm selling their . organization.

  23. I also would like to say that writing these comments is just a way of getting things off our chest. The persons or organizations don't read this stuff. If they did, they would be jumping off bridges. But it doesn't affect them as they have no shame!

  24. After all the liberal media hysterics over the Arizona immigration law, I can only wonder why there is no mention here that enforcing federal election laws can not be entrusted to a "patchwork" of state laws. Or why states should be allowed any enforcement activity in an area of law that is clearly the responsibility of the federal government.

  25. @Steve B: it's because of this:

    "Under New York law, tax-exempt groups — including foundations, trade associations and social welfare organizations — that do business or raise money from donors in New York must file auditors’ reports and their federal tax returns with the attorney general’s office."

    This falls under the heading of states' rights, correct?

  26. Rafe, you didn't explain why a "patchwork" of state laws is OK for states to meddle in federal elections, but not for immigration. Isn't that one of the major complaints liberals offer for why individual states should not attempt to control the illegal population in their states? I know that's Obama's view. Not yours?

  27. Read the article, please. The NY AG is investigating possible violations of NY law, not federal law. The IRS would investigate a violation of federal tax laws, which is what be involved. Most states have laws governing whether certain kinds of organizations are exempt from state and local taxes, and they vary from state to state because it is state and local taxes that are involved, not federal taxes.

  28. so this is how its is done. If they don't like the courts decision, unleash the AG's in each state to issue subpoena's to intimadate and investigate. Where are the investigations by the AG's to union labor groups tha have fed local and regional political campaigns for generations ? The bottom line is, as Obama is showing the way, if you can't beat the enemy in the courts, reload and use whatever means necessary no matter how. Ask Arizona about revenge. This style of politics is the worst we have ever seen in our lifetime, supported by the like of this publication and the ratings ruined CNN and the Washin Post.

  29. c'mon Joe. . . you have got to be kidding me. . . i take it that you are completely comfortable letting Maurice Greenburg and a small group of oligarchs play the system and you like Willie Foo Foo! While you may disagree with Union Labor Groups please note the following: 1) they represent a working class group of people and not the wishes of the uber rich, 2) labor unions are way more transparent organizations than any of these super pacs and 3) if you think that there is any parity between Labor Union influence and the power of big business, then you are really quite delusional! Just look at the numbers and where we stand as a country. . . the average working stiff has had ZERO growth in the wealth over the last 40 years while the top 1% has taken it all. And you still believe that labor unions are too powerful? Get real!

  30. Joe, Beginning in the 1960's, anti-rackateering laws were used to bring down mafia-influenced unions and their heads. How do you feel about the same tactics to be used again now that the Supreme Court has gifted corporations person status just like those union and mafia bosses? What could be more intimidating than a real person against a corporation in a court of law? David against Goliath? Fair is fair. Let the games begin!

  31. Impeach the 5 conservatives on the Supreme Court for the Citizens United abomination. Probably one of the five most dangerously decided cases in the history of our country.

  32. I agree with the 'crank' but we could get by with just removing the Chief Justice and Justice Thomas (he's asleep) and by imposing term limits on both The Supreme Court and Congress (they are asleep as well).

    Citizens United should be over-ruled tomorrow. This ruling has destroyed democracy. My vote is a joke.

    We, the electorate, are the bottom-line problem for our ignorance and tolerance.

  33. Mr. Columbus:
    We need only impeach Clarence Thomas, who has given us ample reason by, among other things, failing for years to disclose the income that his wife Virginia receives from right-wing organizations, or to recuse himself from cases on issues upon which she has consulted.

  34. I’d like to create a new charity called, “Hey dude… where’s my vote?” A nonprofit from the get-go, it would expose PAC’s that use shifty, quasi-legal loopholes to keep people from voting in swing states. And of course there’d be penalties… lots of penalties. Violators would be required to stand on street corners wearing sandwich signs that said, “Dirty Rotten Cheater” and “I’m Sorry, Mom!” The Koch brothers could work Columbus Circle.

    Most importantly, transgressors would have to forfeit all their money to real charities like homeless shelters and food pantries.

    This country’s wealthy have always bent the rules in their favor, that’s why they’re wealthy. But maybe it’s time their financial juggernauts started paying taxes for the privilege. And maybe the Attorneys General of this land should also turn their gazes toward churches that proselytize politics. That’s already against the law.

  35. And Soros could work CPW and UES while you're at it.

  36. It goes way beyond the wealthy bending the rules in their favor. The wealthy and corporations are now writing the rules that favor them! How else to explain the tax favored status of investment income and scores of other inexplicable tax advantages ie carried interest? The only people paying taxes these days are working stiffs. I am tired of of subsidizing the lifestyles of those that rake it in without lifting a finger, control a vast amount of the wealth in our country and feel entitled to every cent, and scream "class warfare" if you have the temerity to point it out. The first step to turn this around begins at the voting booth where we need to retire every traitorous, treasonous republican whose single-minded purpose has been to defeat Obama in November regardless of the damage to the country in the interim. Elect solid democratic majorities that will work for the good of the people of this country once again.

  37. This sort of thing - secret donors influencing free elections - was unlikely to happen when Republicans were, well, Republicans. But that was more than 100 years ago in a bygone era, Theodore Roosevelt's time.

    "He (TR) mistrusted the tendencies of the wealthy to form tight, self-protective social cliques, which, in business, spilled over to combinations in restraint of trade. The tighter each grouping, the more obsessed it became with its own cohesion, and the more resentful of outside monitoring."

    Read more on Theodore Roosevelt and Noblesse Oblige at

    http://lifeamongtheordinary.blogspot.com/2012/06/tr-and-noblesse-oblige-...

  38. Kudos to AG Schneiderman. The US Chamber has become a lobbying arm of the Republican party and increasingly a right wing partisan organization with radical positions. There is no way they should be tax exempt. They are no longer a "business" organization--they are GOP lobbyists.

    I cannot deduct my political contributions. Neither should they.

  39. Welfare Queens for Capitalism!

    How interesting that AIG, the nation's largest business failure and welfare queen, propped up by the taxpayers, can help fund a $1.3 billion propaganda wing to tout the greatness of "free market" capitalism. We truly live in Orwellian times.

  40. A brilliant point, Mr. Alexander. And recall that there was no federal legislation to authorize the bailout of AIG since it was not then a regulated bank entitled to Federal Reserve lending. So AIG was not only bankrupt but saved extra-legally with taxpayer dollars.
    (I do understand the risk of counter-party failure in the AIG case, but apparently AIG and all its counter-parties all received 100 cents on the dollar. The same cannot be said of the people who bought the houses that caused the bubble.)

  41. "In a complaint filed last year with the attorney general, watchdog groups asserted that the loan had been used to finance lobbying for “tort reform” legislation in Congress and to run issue advertising in the 2004 presidential and Congressional campaigns, most of it against Democrats."

    I suspect the last clause of this sentence is what is really driving the investigation. Had they been militating for legislation with aims similarly to those being pushed by unions or any of the grievance constituencies of Democratic Party, none of this would be looked at.

  42. @Kurt: I disagree - the Republicans would be all over it, and rightfully so. These financial shenanigans are corrupt and corrupting regards of which side of the aisle the perpetrators are on.

  43. When political groups pool hundreds of millions of dollars together for Republican political campaign donations, one can only rationalize how much money each contributor expects to gain from an elected Republican leadership. These corporate donors ‘have’ some of the 3 trillion dollars in tax revenue that all American’s have collectively paid in recent years past, to donate, thanks to the GOP funneling the nations tax revenue to them through tax breaks.

    It might be safe to say that, Democratic campaign donations are largely meant, by any size donors, to hang on to peoples income and benefits with the hope of gaining more, while Republican campaign donations are seen by the largest contributors as a guarantee of more money for them.

    Most American’s with average incomes, of both political party’s, are paying the same amount of taxes, and will pay the same amount of taxes regardless of Republican leadership possibly winning the election. For instance, under the Ryan plan Medicare voucher system, that Romney has endorsed, people will pay in the same amount of taxes for Social Security and Medicare, while vouchers from the Social Security Fund will be vulnerable to cuts down the road, and the public will be vulnerable to added costs by the health industry.

  44. The Attorney General of NY needs to be awarded the medal of honor for this bold move against the robber-baron Republicans. The working class taxpayer is fully subsidizing this obscene business by providing tax shelters for the Karl Roves of the world, and the Koch brothers. This is NOT a legal use of the tax code. Quadruple this program across the nation and put a screeching halt to this highway robbery foisted on the nation by the Republican richies.

  45. And George Soros is a poor democratic liberal I suppose?

  46. When you are ruled by a plutocracy that invests only in your ignorance, collapse is inevitable.

  47. The fiction is that PAC's deal with issues instead of politics. The fact is that issues are politics. We are for one party or another because they are for or against particular issues: gun control, gay rights, clear air, energy, etc. There is absolutely no distinction between politics (matters pertaining to needs of the community) and issues. It's ironic that these supposed 9 wise people with their years of education and study, are not able to make this connection. They have adopted the very narrow definition of politics as getting Joe Smith or Joe Blow elected. So if you send money to Joe Smith, you are in politics and your money is not deductible. If you send the money to a PAC that supports the position of Joe Smith, your money is deductible.
    The other and more telling point is that money has always (since the election of officials in the Roman Republican, that I am aware of) been the corrupting element in democracy. It does not take deep learning to realize this, and to maintain as Justice Kennedy, I think, that there is no necessary connection between the two is going in the face of reality and human behavior.
    However, if a 5-4 decision can put us into this mess, there is only need for one vote to alter what is a deeply flawed judgement.

  48. And 99% of the advertising is 100% about opposing a specific candidate in an upcoming election. The non-profit status is fraud, pure and simple, on the American taxpayer, who's ponying up money to help fill the airwaves with this horse puckey. Likewise, the fiction that these groups are unconnected to candidates of their political persuasion is horse puckey. It's all fraud and falsehood, all the time, with all SUPERPACs.

    It couldn't be more appropriate that there's a "Starr-Chamber" connection.

    Go Schneiderman! At least somebody in public life understands that it's all a criminal enterprise. Just don't fall for any prostitutes the Koch troops offer up.

  49. I understand that churches are tax exempt because they are defined as non-profit charities. How is that status established? If corporations and other organizations are people, they should pay taxes based on the same principles that govern my payment of taxes as an individual person. To say that corporations and organizations have the same legal standing as individual "people" but treat them significantly differently under the law is to create fundamental inequity. Like most individuals, I can't afford to retain a law firm or maintain a stable of lawyers; if I go to court with a corporation or organization as my opponent, I am seriously disadvantaged. I can't take advantage of tax loopholes designed for and exploited by corporations in the tax code. I will never have a subsidy devoted to me. I can't deduct contributions to political campaigns from my taxes. If a church is spending money to support political activity, which is not tax deductible for me, that money should be subject to taxation on their books as well. If an organization exists primarily to conduct political lobbying and engage in political discourse on behalf of for profit corporations, that organization should be subject to taxation. Alternatively, the law should be changed to allow me to take those contributions as a "charitable" deduction on my individual taxes. Fair's fair. If political contributions were tax deductible, you can bet many more Americans would donate more.

  50. As they say - I'll believe that corporations are people when Texas executes one.

  51. The SC hasn't yet said that corporations, which are created by the individual states pursuant to their state statutes, are citizens, only that they are persons for purposes of the First Amendment. So are aliens. But we don't really want non-citizens, who cannot vote, to meddle in (let alone control) the civic affairs of real citizens, do we? So why can't we legislate in each state that only those citizens who can vote can attempt to influence an election or any kind of legislation? Non-citizens may have the right to speak but they do not have the right to vote, so why are we letting them end-run the process of government and buy what they cannot vote for?

  52. 1. The GOP successfully "bought" control of the SC during the last Bush administration.
    2. Rove, et al., have succeeded in crafting clever;ly titled groups designed to consolidate power in the hands of the very wealthy and Citizens United is a prime example. This week's SC decision denying the Montana case strengthens the false personhood of corporations.
    3. Maybe the US Chamber really meant "capitol" campaign - they are, after all, intent on buying the Capitols of every state.

    Repeat a lie, especially a big lie, often enough and it becomes indistinguishable from the truth. This is sadly evident in the many Romney and other GOP candidate signs on small houses and rusty cars of people lulled into believing the rich will create jobs. Major corporations are sitting on bags of cash, and holding back on hiring, to intentionally manipulate the economy until after the election.

  53. George Soros admitted he tried--literally--to buy the 2004 presidential election for Democrats. I don't recall all the liberal whining and gnashing of teeth by people like you back then. Why now but not then?

  54. A small correction- during the last so-called administration (mis-administration is a better description) the GOP didn't buy the SC, just Roberts and Alito.

  55. And they GOP's supports supports are cultish in their belief that BIG money will help them. It will only help to ensalve them through outsourcing, lower wages, and a reduced safety net.

  56. Give them hell, Eric!
    Chamber of Commerce needs to go down!

  57. Tax exempt groups? Sally (below) says that the C.of C. does not need to behave in a moral or ethical manner. Granted. However, just a few days ago I read in the TIMES that folks in the CONGRESS manipulated their assets in the "market" based on reports to their committees.... over 50 of them. Then the story dies. If the TIMES knows the # they too must be able to give us names of those in CONGRESS who are absent moral or ethical behaviors. Oh, I see, the list would be too long and like most other items reported in the TIMES, "Here today, gone tomorrow." No wonder the Liberty Bell is cracked. HUH???

  58. Let's face it anonymous money buys anonymous lies. If you stood behind the me message you were paying to spread, you wouldn't need to be anonymous. And you certainly should not get a tax deduction for any anonymous "issue add"

    The fiction perpetrated by the "Citizens United" ruling that these issue adds paid by corporations and rich individuals could ever be protected free speech and "not coordinated" with campaigns is truly naive. Mitt Romney issue ad pac is run by a former partner at Bain Capital. And to top that the candidates themselves personally raise funds for these pacs that they are supposedly "not coordinating with"

    The Citizens United ruling has debased the tenor and substance of political campaigns in this country. Campaigns and voters are being swamped by vicious character assassination and misleading half truths paid for by anonymous tax deductible contributions.

    We must put a stop to the Citizen's United disaster. Whatever it takes, legislation, a Constitutional amendment or citizen action.

  59. Actually, Citizens United's fiction was worse than you depict: Its first conceit was that money equates with speech; then it piled on the notion that a corporation, in funding things with its money is engaging in "free speech." The ads aren't the "free speech" now protected by the CU decision; it's the funding of those ads by obscured, anonymous entities that are now protected. Not only is this perpetrating a fiction; it's cultivating deceit.

  60. Obviously, the wealthy invest in the super PAC that will give them the best financial return. But perhaps the best investment is in the influence on vulnerable voters, appealing to their ignorance, prejudice and fears to the extent that great numbers of them will vote against their own self-interests.

  61. About time . While you're at it Mr, Schneiderman check out The Tides Foundation and The American Trial Lawyers Political Action Fund.

  62. I would agree with Mr. Schneiderman if he did just what you suggest. However it looks like he wants to discourage people who give to Republicans while turning a blind eye to groups that give to Democrats. Why am I not surprised!.

  63. Hats off to the NY Attorney General!

  64. We claim that Democracy is at the core of our country, and democratic elections are an essential part of it. Democratic elections are based on the principle of one-person-one-vote. Yet, we casually trample this principle by facilitating a financially based and driven lobby to be directed at profitable legislation and the right candidates to execute it. The impact of that lobby on our Supreme Court is but one consequence of equating citizens with dollars.

  65. Somehow I don't see the framers of the Constitution, or the men who risked everything in opposing the British Empire during The American Revolution doing it all so some rich mini minority could buy all the politicians to corrupt our lives, and steal whatever they want. But then they could never envision TV and the Electronic hold that money alone can buy in political campaigns. America was nice while it lasted, but obviously the Bush-Cheney administration signaled that it's just over. Too bad we didn't hold a wake for it, it deserved at least that. Corporations are people now, and money runs everything, business is government, and government not making corporations more money has perished from the Earth.

  66. 200+years old US Democracy looks fatigued with its own age old weight & having entered in state of AMNESIA in which events happening @ such stage can't be remembered! Super PACs supporting GOPTPERS taking big advantage of voters & are bent to buy out aging democracy so that they can reorganize it the way they want making it best suitable to their infinity of GREED. The out come will be DEMOCRACY turning into OLIGACHCRACY,PLUTOCRACY-ending into AUTOCRACY. When people are @ sleep while driving,accident do happens,sometime fatal ones,in this case-end of DEMOCRACY.

  67. Sir: You're saying that Schneiderman "suggests that he" is using the inquiry to "vault himself" onto the national stage, comparing him with Spitzer and our present governor.

    Firstly, no one was more sincere than Spitzer in trying to hold Wall Street to account for its more than alleged lawbreaking. As both AG and govermor, he fought for investors and the public; it was hubris in personal matters that brought him down.

    Andrew Cuomo talks a good game. Yeah, he was rah-rah about this and that during his term as AG and in his run for the governorship, but the whole Genting affair has shown him to be just another politican with his hand out.

    Shneiderman made a lot of noise - we'll see if it comes to fruition - regarding letting the banks off easy in the mortgage debacle. He, like Kamala Harris in California and Beau Biden - among other states' AG's - refused to cave in to the demands of the Obama administration and we'll hopefully see some results.

    Now, he's investigating what he - and many others - see as a network of tax-exempt fraud. Maybe, just maybe, he's in it for all the right reasons and not national recognition. He might be one of a handful who actually gives a damn.

  68. Thank you AG Schneiderman!!!

    There is still someone to believe in...

    Godspeed

  69. On..and that part that "suggests" that these moves are calculated to foist Schneiderman to the national stage ain't news. That's just one person's opinion with nothing to back it up.

  70. Take a look at churches, as well. The blatant political tone of some "sermons" ought to prove they have a political agenda, and not just a religious one.

  71. As well as environmental groups should be examined. They are the religion of the left.... with an unthinking blind eye to job impacts as they support the left solely.

  72. Good point, Dee. I think churches should preach what they want but if they preach politics they should not be tax exempt organization. I certainly don't feel I should help subsidize them with my tax dollars.

  73. Actually many environmental groups are just as critical of Obama as they are of Republican. There's more than 2 ways to think John

  74. In the words of Lebron James, "Its about time!"

  75. I can't count the times that I've heard ordinary, middle class patriotic Americans talk about the fact that if things continue the way they have been with the rich getting richer and buying elections and the middle class being destroyed, that "THERE WILL BE BLOOD IN THE STREETS."
    We now live in a full blown plutocracy and anyone who denies this is a fool or doesn't know what a plutocracy is.
    The situation is not sustainable and either we return to a democracy or..... well I hate to say it so I won't.

  76. Every way you face you are bombarded with deceit, greed driven manipulation and bickering. We are sinking in this muck and yet it continues. When we so badly need our government to rally they appear to be contemplating their navels. Do they not understand that they need us?
    Obama needs to seriously WAKE UP !!

  77. Corporations want to be treated like people, well, people get to choose with whom they interact. Get us the names of the corporations and subsidiaries supporting these political campaigns so that we can vote with our dollar. As investors we should be able to see such contributions in their 10-b report. The associations and organizations claiming non-profit or educational status should be shut off from tax free status. This effluent has got to stop.

  78. The former state assemblyman representing the upper west side of New York City sure seems to be overcoming the apportionment bias that tends to make New York irrelevant in national politics, eh?

  79. "The Starr Foundation is one of the country’s largest philanthropies, with total assets of about $1.3 billion. Named after Cornelius Vander Starr, the founder of American International Group..."

    AIG, that paragon of corporate virtue? I'm certainly glad that the money stolen from honest folks is being used for a good cause...

    Wake up, people, vote the right-wing crooks out of office!

  80. Better yet, vote all of the crooks out of office, regardless of political persuassion!.

  81. Like many others, I'm in favor of disclosure, enforcing rules already on the books (hello FEC, IRS? anyone home?), and campaign finance reform that would make this system more accountable without loopholes. But at the root, there are two fundamental problems that face us, both rooted in human nature.

    The first problem is with us, the voters. Voters respond to this advertising nonsense. We vote for politicians the way we root for sports teams. That has to end. We need to start talking with each other again. We need to understand that just because someone holds a priority or a viewpoint that we don't agree with doesn't make them evil, untrustworthy, or even a bad leader. We need to learn to stop digging in, being disrespectful, and surrounding ourselves with media and others who reenforce our own point of view.

    The second problem is the system seriously needs some reform when it comes to conflict of interest for our representatives. Any action that creates the _appearance_ of conflict of interest _is_ a conflict of interest. For instance, if a representative spends nearly all of their time listening to a small faction of interest groups who have a record of raising large sums of campaign contributions, that's a conflict of interest. This is why personal information about representatives needs to be public. It's part of the sacrifice for serving the public. The relationship between our representatives and interest groups needs daylight.

  82. New York has taken the place of the federal government in yet another matter where one would expect, but does not see, government action for the benefit of the people. Wall Street excess? No SEC action, but NY tries. Executive compensation? Check. And now this.
    I wish my state would take bold action to protect its citizens, but since our Republican State Attorney General is under a lifetime ban by the SEC, I doubt that's going to happen.

  83. Hypocritcal democrat politician at work again, abusing its position to harass his opponent party.

    Yeah, just like most of the hypocritical posters here.

  84. The motives might be political, but setting precedent that will be applicable all-round will be useful regardless of leanings.

  85. If the Health Care law is overturned, I would be very surprised were President Obama to do anything other than acknowledge that the highest court in the land has spoken and that discussions relative to an implementation this tactic are now moot.

    I would also be very surprised were he to do anything other than move ever more aggressively toward where he should have stood his ground at the inception of these discussions, to wit: a national, all-encompassing, single-payer, government-administered plan for universal health care coverage this country so GRIEVOUSLY needs....AND DESERVES!

    One last thing that would surprise me were it not to happen: were the republicans who have made President Obama's road on this issue so rough for so long not ultimately NOT come to rue their not having bought into the program long ago.

    This issue is NOT going away, nor are the sails taught with a republican wind.

  86. Thank you Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman for caring and fighting for America's democracy.

  87. I just e-mailed this article to MT's Attorney-General (who is running for gov. to replace Brian Schweitzer who is term-limited. Perhaps he can find a way to do something like Schneiderman is now doing for NY!

  88. Even if it's established that the US Chamber of Commerce is involved as the prime tax exempt outside group financing the Republican campaign, what concrete purpose is going to be achieved, except making public what's already known to the public at large? For, given the free hand allowed by the Supreme Court to the corporates at funding the campaigns, it's difficult to tear off the legal shield affording full protection to such dubious entities, involved in political financing through circuitry route.

  89. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try.

  90. We can at least refrain from offering them subsidies in the form of tax exemptions. More might occur if a case can be made against officials for attempting to deceive the IRS.

  91. Will Schneiderman be investigating non-profits that donate to Democrats? Al Sharpton's and Jesse Jackson's foundations would be prime suspects. How about the non-profits that fund "marriage equality" campaigns? How about the labor union foundations? He could also spend a little time investigating the corruption in Albany but then that may ensare a few of his Democratic cronies.

  92. Such investigations and inquiries are long overdue. I have long felt that any organization which is tax-exempt should have NO, repeat NO, political activities or aims, and that includes funneling of money, overtly or covertly. Of course, we all know that election reform is also long overdue at all government levels. We also know that such reform will not happen. The politicians like the situation as it is now.

  93. Part correct, part wrong. Not politicians, but the corporations and ulta wealthy. In fact, both are working at election reforms that would greatly benefit them.

  94. If Mr. Schneiderman rally wants to be ambitious he should add the US Conference of Bishop's and their current leader, New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan, to his list of tax exempt, charitable enterprises engaging in partisan politics.

    He is the story on Dolan.....

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Dolan

  95. US Chamber is a glaring example but LDS charities, stuffed with tax-exempt Romney money, sponsor and promoter of Proposition 8 hate legislation and other anti-civil rights initiatives, should lose their "church" status and their tax exemption.

  96. When elites are held in check, typically by effective legal mechanisms, everyone else in society does much better and sustained economic growth becomes possible. But powerful people - kings, barons, industrialists, bankers - work long and hard to relax the constraints on their actions. And when they succeed, the effects are not just redistribution toward themselves but also an undermining of economic growth and often a tearing at the fabric of society.

    Please sign the petition to the U.S. Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committee asking for improved oversight of federal banking and market regulators to keep elites in check.

    To read more about what we’re trying to do and to sign the petition, click here:
    http://www.change.org/petitions/u-s-senate-banking-and-u-s-house-financi...

    It'll just take a minute!

  97. How about requiring photo IDs to vote? The vote is never in until the dead are counted.

  98. sure ... why not ... but make no mistake about the difference between voter ID's and unlimited funds used by the rich to buy politicians, state and national elections ... the great mojority of US citizens want Citizens united struck down because it goes against the very notion of government by, for and of the people. AG Schneidermann is right to investigate ... Citizens United is Un-American and criminal ... follow the money

  99. The big contributors have a great deal of influence over which candidates even make it to the ballot and over which candidates win. The winners pay extra attention to the donors and their concerns. I would like to know about the flows of political money.

  100. As a result of the terrible Citizens United 2010 Supreme Court decision,, millionaires and billionaires are now permitted to spend as much money as they want on elections. And that’s what they are doing. With their unlimited resources they are now buying politicians and elections. In fact, in the same way that they buy coal mines and gambling casinos, they are about to buy the U.S. government.

    The Koch brothers, a right-wing Republican family who are worth more than $50 billion, have announced their intention to spend at least $400 million to defeat President Obama and elect Senate and House candidates sympathetic to the needs of the very rich. Sheldon Adelson, worth over $20 billion, is prepared to spend as much as it takes to achieve the same ends. Other billionaires are also lining up. These people are not content to control the economic life of the nation; they want to control our politics as well.

    These are incredibly dangerous times. The billionaires are on the war path. They want it all.

    I for one am sure glad that New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has begun investigating contributions to tax-exempt groups that are heavily involved in political campaigns.

    Get them Eric!

  101. This is really important stuff, shame most people either don't know or don't know to care.

  102. there is only one reason a corporation will donate huge sums of money to a candidate.......to bribe them. sometimes the same corporation bribes both candidates to be sure they win.

  103. I would be delighted to contribute to a project with the goal of cloning a supply of Attorney General Eric Schneidermans for the Federal, states and major city governments.

    And if he is short of funds in his office or if more money would expand or accelerate his work, where do we send our checks?

  104. It is about time that someone started to focus on the activites of these tax exempt, charitable groups that use their money for political lobbying. Mr. Schneiderman is to be congratulated for his efforts.

  105. Bravo, Schneiderman. I hope he'll inspire others to follow his lead. The Bribery Society has gone on for too long.

  106. Many small businesses despise their local CofC's. The CofC's tend to be heavy handed, greedy, and marching to the demands the national order. I'm sure some members of the SCOTUS drink the CofC cool-aide.

  107. Justice has good reasons and reasoning. But free tax organizations are inspired in social demands. Do this demands cope with reality of nowadays? Lawmakers invent or create reasons which are irrelevant with social progress. Is this one of those cases were reasoning will drop off privileges and law?

  108. This is the sweetest news in many months of terrible political developments. Would that more attorney's general had the gumption to challenge these shadowy forces

  109. New York is fortunate to have AG Schneiderman investigating not only likely, but highly probable money laundering by one or more NY state charitable concerns.

    It would appear that this is another one of the many methods the greed-driven 1 percenters' will use to amass ever more control over the economic and political life of this nation.

    Scams, rip offs and literal non-stop rigging of every aspect of this republic looks to be their entire reason for existing. With more wealth than anyone could ever use (and probably even imagine), that crooked, conniving bunch of reprobates quests for more. Control, control and ever more control is their unending mantra.

    Mr Schneidermann, while you're at it, how about considering bringing criminal charges against anyone found to have illegally or fraudulently funneled charitable funds to promote right wing political agendas. "Low interest" or "no interest loans" to a notorious right wing lobbying organization in furtherance of a political agenda, hardly seems to be proper use of tax free charitable dollars.

    Money laundering is illegal in Texas and you can ask Tom Delay if you have any doubts about that. It's time these crooks and scoundrels enjoyed some of that "hard time" that they so freely dispense to all but themselves.

    Godspeed and good hunting!

  110. eric, keep up the great work... you are truly a breath of fresh air... these rascals got to learn that not everybody is afraid of them... they are not used to anybody challenging them...

  111. Non-profits like the Chamber are MUCH more dangerous to democracy than the SuperPACs that Citizens United let loose because the non-profits don't have to identify their donors. The Chamber (and other non-profits) were major funders of Tea Partiers in the 2010 elections.

    The Supreme Court's cavalier dismissal of Montana's case Monday really DID represent the conservatives' doubling down on their irrational belief that multi-million dollar contributions from the 1% and corporations do not present a possibility of "corruption or the appearance of corruption." I know Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy have spent much of their lives studying "the law," but I'm appalled that they seem never to have devoted even a moment to studying the history of corruption in American politics!

  112. Admirable move Mr. Schneiderman. While most of us already know this, it is nice to have it highlighted.