presents The Angry Liberal
Enron, Part III: Enron Supported Both Sides (Except the Democrats)
February 5, 2002
Wanna hear my favorite elephant joke? It goes like this:
Q: What do an elephant and a grape have in common?
A: They're both purple, except for the elephant.
This seems to sum up what Republicans and Democrats have in common concerning Enron campaign contributions. We've all heard the news stories on the Enron Corporation's obsession with campaign contributions. We've also heard from our right-wing moron brothers-in-law that Enron donated money to both sides, so the Democrats can't claim they were morally superior. What do you say we look at some real numbers? It's now time to discuss the Enron Corporation's campaign contributions.
As with the previous piece on Enron, I'm limiting my examination to campaign 2000. I had to draw a line somewhere because this is too big a mess for my tireless assistant and me to research any further back. You're welcome to do your own analysis at the Federal Election Commission web site, but keep some Advil handy. Remember as a child, the time your kite came down all at once and the entire string was tangled and it took you the rest of the afternoon to get it straightened out? That experience may help prepare you for the twisted contribution trail awaiting you at the FEC web site, but I doubt it.
So here are the numbers on Election 2000: The Enron Corp Political Action Committee (so-named because nobody would accept money from the "Rich Bastards Looking to Rent Politicians willing to Introduce Our Consumer-Screwing Legislation" Political Action Committee) donated money in the following fashion:
Republican organizations: $57,500
Democratic organizations: $66,000
Gee, that's even-handed, right? But wait:
Republican Congressional Candidates: $195,798
Democratic Congressional Candidates: $86,700
Okay, so Enron likes Republicans more than Democrats. They still contribute to both sides, right?
Actually, this is where it gets interesting. There were a total of 469 congressional seats involved in the 2000 election. These were split pretty evenly between the parties: Republicans held 243, Democrats 224 (and two independents). Of the elections in which Enron chose to contribute, Enron gave to Republicans at a rate of nearly two to one: Of the 172 individual candidates who received Enron money, 152 were incumbents, and about two-thirds of those (96) were Republican. If you really want to see which political party Enron likes, look at the 20 seats in which they supported non-incumbents. Of these, 14 of Enron's recipients were Republican and only six were Democrat. Here's the hilarious part: Of those six Democrats, Enron didn't contribute to five of them until AFTER they had already won the election. The Republican opponents of three of these five had received Enron money during the election.
In short, Enron gave money to Republicans at a rate of nearly two-to-one over Democrats. The money that was given to Democrats was given almost entirely to incumbents, who are almost never defeated. As such, the contribution did not likely serve to influence a Democratic victory. In the races in which neither candidate was an incumbent, Enron donated to exactly one non-incumbent Democrat before the election. Yeah, these guys are really even-handed in their contributions.
Here are the Enron totals:
Republicans: $253,298 (62%)
Democrats: $152,700 (38%)
Now, let's add Ken Lay's contributions in:
Republicans: $550,598 (78%)
Democrats: $155,700 (22%)
And just for fun, let's add Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling's cash into the mix:
Republicans: $611,598 (79%)
Democrats: $158,200 (21%)
Anybody see a pattern here?
With Kenneth Lay hiding behind the Fifth Amendment today (Relax, George. It's not that kind of fifth), we can be sure about a couple of things: The Enron Corporation recently collapsed under the weight of its own sleaze. At best, Enron preferred Republicans nearly two to one. Knowing this, Democrats can at the very least claim that Republicans are twice as dirty as Democrats in this matter. At worst, Enron's contributions were made to appear bipartisan without doing anything to help elect Democratic candidates. And this doesn't count the tanker full of cash the Enron players gave to Dubya. Republicans are clearly Enron's choice to run its Washington Subsidiaries: The White House and Congress.
Finally, we Democrats should be proud that nearly all of our representatives in Washington favor campaign finance reform. We Democrats want corporations like Enron out of the political influence business. Republicans see nothing wrong with allowing corporations to run the government. My advice to these guys is as follows: Go to Houston sometime, stand next to Enron Field (the House that Graft Built), and take a deep breath. That chunky-style air filling your lungs is a sample of what America gets when it allows corporations to run the government.
Okay, you can exhale. And you'll probably want to get your teeth cleaned. . .
(Again, special thanks to my tireless research assistant, BLHamrick@aol.com.)
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© 2002, The Angry Liberal
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