Gronstal is a Hypocrite on Corporate Contributions

gronstalDemocrats around the country are up in arms over last week’s Supreme Court ruling that struck down a major component of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the government cannot ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.

The Court’s ruling does not allow corporations to the ability to make contributions to candidates, political parties, or political action committees. What it does is allow corporations to do is directly advocate for or against specific legislation or candidates. Corporations are still prohibited from coordinating their spending with candidates and political parties.

Democrats in all levels of elected office have voiced their opposition to the ruling. Iowa Congressman Leonard Boswell quickly introduced legislation amending the U.S. Constitution to restrict corporations and labor unions from running political ads. Senator Tom Harkin said that the ruling would funnel corporate money to Republicans.

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal told Des Moines Register columnist Kathie Obradovich that he feared for the survival of democracy following the Supreme Court’s ruling on corporate contributions. Gronstal’s comments are ironic considering that Gronstal is the largest corporate fundraiser in the state. He has solicited corporate contributions for the Des Moines based Midwest Enterprise Group, a 527 group that is run by a former Gronstal aide, which focuses exclusively helping Democrats in the Iowa Senate.

Since its inception before the 2008 general election, the Midwest Enterprise Group has received $431,000 in corporate contributions. Almost every casino operation in the state has made large contributions to the Midwest Enterprise Group. Harrahs, Ameristar, Isle of Capri, Riverside Casino, and Penn National Gaming have all made corporate contributions of $5000 or more to Gronstal’s group. Gary Kirke, who operates Wilde Rose Casinos, has made personal contributions to the Midwest Enterprise Group. Other highly regulated businesses have also made large contributions, including ethanol companies, hospitals, phone companies, payday loan businesses, and energy companies.

If Gronstal really believes that corporate contributions will destroy our form of government, why does he ask for them and use them to help further his political agenda? Gronstal isn’t the only Democrat soliciting corporate contributions either. Speaker Pat Murphy does the same thing. House Democrats funnel money through a 527 group called Responsibility and Integrity Now Fund.

For better or worse, Republican leaders in the House and Senate don’t have front groups that allow them to take corporate contributions. Current gubernatorial candidate Chris Rants used corporate funds in his 527 group called the Iowa Leadership Council, but he is no longer in a leadership position that would allow him to solicit corporate funds.

The Supreme Court’s decision now allows individual businesses the ability to engage politically in a direct manner rather than making them route their money through groups like Gronstal’s Midwest Enterprise Group or Murphy’s Responsibility and Integrity Now Fund. That’s a good thing for the people of the United States and of Iowa. If a business like Iowa Health Systems, which operates Iowa Methodist Medical Center, Iowa Lutheran Hospital, Blank Children’s Hospital, and Methodist West Hospital wants to get involved politically involved, they should do so openly.

If Iowa Health Systems, who gave Gronstal’s 527 group $50,000, wants to advocate for the election of particular Democrat state senate candidates they should do so. They also should face the consequences of their political involvement. Forcing corporations to funnel money to ambiguous groups not only lets them hide their political agenda, but protects them from any fallout their political activity could bring.

The Supreme Court’s ruling could also open the door for additional challenges to campaign finance laws. Now that the Court has granted corporations political free speech rights by allowing them to advocate for or against legislation or particular candidates, it is only a matter of time before a corporation will challenge the part of the law that says that they cannot contribute directly to candidates.

0 thoughts on “Gronstal is a Hypocrite on Corporate Contributions

  1. Craig,

    Another great story…once again proving that the lamestream media isn’t up to the task of doing actual journalism.

    Did Kathie Obradovich or any other state media actually bother to challenge Gronstal on his histronics last week? Of course not…

    Anything that doesn’t give Democrats an advantage “threatens democracy”

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  2. No kidding. If it weren’t for Robinson, we wouldn’t know about this particular example of hypocrisy on the part of a Democrat but of course, we’re not surprised. It’s par for the course.

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  3. I imagine that the insurance industry will produce some classy commercials. Hopefully the ChiComs and banana republic dictators will produce crappy ones good for a laff or two. The NRA’s and Teamsters’ commercials’ll probably be so amateurishly harsh that they’ll be embarrassing.

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  4. Ok..at least people will now see that its coming DIRECTLY from groups like the Teamsters or the NRA or whomever. Instead of having to funnel their money directly to a 527 with a slick name that makes it sound like they have nothing to do with each other…..corporations, unions, etc…now have to abide by the same disclosure rules that candidates have to.

    Its leveled the playing field…heck..isnt that what liberalism is all about CD? Leveling the playing field???

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  5. Would someone please explain to me why it is that Corporations that exist solely on paper have any rights to petition the Government? I realize the answer to this is simple, that since we choose to impose taxes upon them, that they should be allowed a voice. I would ask though, where does the voice of the common citizen go when dwarfed by the massive amounts of money a corporation can put into the system? I propose that we quit taxing these entities and then remove rights that should never have been granted to them in the first place.

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  6. ConThink…

    You’re missing a salient point here. Corporations don’t get to vote…people do. That’s the most powerful voice in all of this–the one that’s exercised at the ballot box.

    We are still the ones that have to go into the polling place and make the choice as to who to vote for. You can see all the political advertising in the world….but the power to choose is still left up to the person.

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  7. Hawk,

    You’re point is well taken. I do understand that the true power lies with the People, but I think it nieve in the least to think that political advertising has little effect on political races. I ask again, where does the voice of the poeple go when drowned in the absolute ocean of corporate money?

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  8. Hey Conservative Thinker, is that really you? Or did you loan your computer to your distant cousin “Populist Thinker”?

    I think that more speech is better than less speech, no matter who is doing the speaking. Corporations are nothing more than groups of people, like unions or Tea Party Central Committees. They’ve just organized their business affairs into a third party corporation for tax and liability purposes.

    Don’t be afraid of corporations who want to get a message out. Be afraid of corporations who want to limit your freedom to get YOUR message out.

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  9. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I actually agree with Vast here. I simply don’t think we should be taxing and conversly giving a voice to corporations. If people wish to band together to form PACs, I really don’t see any harm in that, but allowing to Corporations to have unlimited influence in a Representative Democracy of the People, is wrong. At least in my opinion.

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  10. I’d rather see PAID FOR BY THE NRA or PAID FOR BY THE STATE EMPLOYEES UNION, than see PAID FOR BY SOME PRETTY NICE ANONYMOUS PEOPLE YOU CAN TRUST COMPLETELY COMMITTEE.

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  11. The NRA and Employees union are good examples, but what about Coke, Pepsi, GE, Intel, Viacomm, and on and on that will utterly saturate a market until there is simply no room for dissenting opinions. And when the court rules that there is no reason a corporation cannot donate directly to a candidate and/or campaign, they will simply purchase whole sale candidates and races.

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  12. Additionally, when the court does make this ruling, how do you stop foreign entities from influencing american elections? When you decide that you really can’t stop them from having influence, then why then cannot owners of a coporation be allowed to cast votes in american elections. Because if we get down to it, in-kind, not in-kind are all contributions. So, if one can contribute in one form, then why not another. And if on can contribute to an election or candidate to gain influence in an outcome, then how can you deny that corporate part owner voting rights as well. Finally, once we’ve gone down this road as far as we can, why not then just disolve all borders and let the coporations run things?

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  13. I don’t think I’d like the idea of a political ad paid for by say Suntech Power which is a Chinese owned company with business operations in the US, or an ad paid for by Citgo which is incorporated here in the US but is almost entirely owned by Venezuela.

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  14. Hawk,

    I wonder if you’re right about more freedom being better than more onerous government. Under that theory there should be no such thing as illegal immigration, there should be no such thing as illegal drug use. There should be no smoking ban, minor should be able to drink, and I should be able to walk across the street and take things from my neighbors home because there shouldn’t be a law against it, because who needs more onerous government, right? I mean more freedom is always better right?

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  15. MiE, I think the government (in most states but Iowa) already DOES stay out of the issue of gay unions. Gay activists keep complaining that the government needs to acknowledge their commitments to each other, and the government infuriates them by staying out of the issue. Pretty much like the founders envisioned. Gay couples have the freedom of speech to proclaim their love for their current partners, but non-gays have the right to not have acceptance of gay unions forced down their throat.

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  16. Russ: How are gay unions being forced down your throats? I suspect that gay unions have not affected your life one bit. Why deprive them of the liberty to form a civil union? I find it odd that many on this site, including you proudly proclaim the right to be free from government interference until a group you dislike seeks the same freedom.

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  17. HAH! Watch your TV when the gays and lesbians figure out that SCOTUS just gave them the right to run political advocacy commercials.

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  18. People !! (meaning you hang wringing liberals) You act like this is a CHANGE? McCain Fiengold was the change. This only UNDOES the very unconstitutional law that a recent Congress Passed. A Congress that was TOSSED out of Power right after they did it. Remember this?

    You think Pepsi or ANYONE ELSE doesn’t already DONATE as much as they are able? You think this really? Once upon a time, I worked for one of the largest most powerful banks in the world. And they had a PAC that donated to Tom Harkin and other liberals like him and Democrats ALL over America. And as a corporate officer and vice president, I got many different bonuses and incentives. To have a meeting, to hear about some new goal and to get a few grand in stock or a bonus, a few times a year, at random, was very common.

    One day, we had two “voluntary” meetings we were invited to attend. One of them was scheduled for 11:30 the other immediately following at noon. A free lunch was provided. Now, being an officer and vice president, I am sure you can understand that “voluntary” means, show up if you want to NOT be reorganized and displaced in the organization… aka Fired.

    So, every officer, senior manager attended of course. At the first meeting we were told that certain goals set had been met and we were thanked for all we did to help make this happen. We were also given notice that our next check due THAT next Friday, in about 2 days, would contain a special one time bonus for $5,000.00 for each officer. Naturally everyone was pleased.

    The meeting adjourned and ALL of us walked across the hall to the OTHER room for the 2nd voluntary meeting. In this meeting we were shown slides about how banking regulations were haring our company goals and how if we wanted to keep doing better and grow as a company, we needed to lobby hard. Cards were then passed out which contained a suggested donation of $2500 to the PAC. Of course, all voluntary.

    Guess how many officers DECLINED to take half of the money we just got and voluntarily donate it to the PAC?

    Of course. NO ONE refused.

    And I can tell you with ABSOLUTE SURETY, that no matter what form of law was passed, Corporations WILL find a way to fund their political goals.

    THIS RULING now applies the same honest and open disclosures to which candidates have been subject for years. And I for one am glad that the companies will just PAY and DISCLOSE their politics without any of the monkey business which has been going on previously.

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  19. Nothing the government has done prevents gay individuals from living with their significant others, designating the other with power of attorney, or listing them in their will. Unfortunately, this is not sufficient, because some activists will not rest until all of us are forced by the government to acknowledge the equality of gay relationships and heterosexual marriage.

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  20. Con Dem makes an excellent point: Freedom of speech for one means freedom of speech for all. I for one consider having to sit through a commercial featuring Rosie O’Donnell and Bruce Villanche for “gay rights” to be a small price to pay when you compare it to expanded free speech for EVERYONE.

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  21. Rus, you hit the nail on the head there, it’s not sufficient because it’s not equal as is guaranteed by the constitution. No amount of legal paperwork other than a marriage license gives a gay couple the exact same benefits, protections, and responsibilities as marriage does.

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  22. Rus, is gay bashing the price that gay people have to pay? Mathew Shepard paid that price. When was the last time a straight person was murdered for the simple fact that they were straight?

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  23. Wayward, You mention, “… And I for one am glad that the companies will just PAY and DISCLOSE their politics without any of the monkey business which has been going on previously

    Allow me to ask, what will stop the practice of ‘voluntary’ donations to PAC’s alongside political ads. And what exactly makes you think that any of these political ads will be honest in any way. I for one can imagine a time when sympathetic politicians will just be campaigned for and unsympathetic politicians will be buried by negative ads. The people may not even know why one candidate is being pushed over another.

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  24. This is America. We were told growing up that one can do almost anything they want as long as you don’t hurt anyone else. What happened to that America? It’s my money and I can do anything with it I want. If I want to give my entire vast fortune to Obama, I should be able to do it. (That will be the day) 🙂

    Obama should be required to report it and immediately.

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  25. And I don’t think that anyone here would really argue against the idea that you as an individual shouldn’t be allowed to spend your money however you want to but then your not a corporation. Your a living, breathing, thinking, human being.

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  26. That last comment should read… “And I don’t think that anyone here would really argue against the idea that you as an individual should be allowed to spend your money however you want to but then your not a corporation. Your a living, breathing, thinking, human being.”

    What I wouldn’t give for an edit button in this here comment thingy.

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  27. VV: I really don’t care. I think the reason I don’t care is that I know that all the money in the world cannot get me to vote Democrat.

    Just as long as it is reported immediately.

    I do not like the idea of public unions being able to use taxpayers’ money to lobby the taxpayers for more money.

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  28. If an organization like the National Organization for Marriage can use the courts to block disclosure laws do you really think that Corporations aren’t going to get around it as well?

    I frankly find it highly disturbing that Hugo Chavez will be able to dump millions of dollars into US political campaigns simply by funneling through the US Incorporated Citgo that Venezuela runs. Some of you think Obama is a socialist, just wait until we have our first President bought and Paid for by Citgo.

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  29. Hey, Hugo was pretty cool when he donated heating oil to poor residents of the Eastern Seaboard and pissed-off the “Poor-people-ought-to-be-jailed” wing of conservatism.

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  30. to all the conservatives, where is the outrage over this judicial activism, overturning 100 years of establish law, ignoring stare decisis? Do overlook when it is done by the five conservative judges on the court??? When we approve of the outcome??? Is it only activism when conservatives don’t like the ruling??? Seriously, I would think that conservatives and liberals could agree on this, having unions and corps, foreign and domestic funnelling unlimited funds and influence into our political comapaigns is not a good thing, as craig said, it is only a matter of time before the ban on direct contributions is challanged too. Is this not a bad thing??? Do we want chinese companies putting BS adds on TV to influence our elections?? god knows there are too many voters who are more than willing to believe anything put in front of them.

    Silence

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