A recent decision from the Federal Elections Commission could overturn 70 years of precedent and defang a long-standing law that bars companies from buying favorable election results to gain federal contracts. Goodbye anti-pay-to-play laws, hello corporate America profiting off lucrative government deals based on campaign donations.
The trouble all stems from a single contribution made during the 2012 election. On October 7, 2012, oil giant Chevron donated $2.5 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), a super PAC tied to John Boehner and House Republicans that spent almost $10 million in 2012, largely on ads attacking Democratic House candidates.
That raised the ire of Public Citizen, a liberal consumer advocate group. In a complaint sent to the FEC last year, Public Citizen and a handful of other groups claimed that Chevron and CLF violated a federal law (referred to as pay-to-play) that bans any corporation that holds a contract with the federal government from contributing to a political campaign. The complaint was sent after Public Citizen checked a public database of federal contractors and noticed that Chevron was listed as working with the government. Last week the FEC dismissed those complaints with an argument that could create a loophole a million dollars wide for other companies to exploit.
The FEC bought the company's argument, which is that Chevron Corporation (the organization that donated to CLF) and Chevron U.S.A. (the organization with...
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