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They BuyPartisan: ExxonMobil Donates $260,000 to Obama Inauguration

Steve Horn
DeSmogBlog / News Report
Published: Monday 21 January 2013
With a fundraising goal of $50 million in its sights, the Obama Administration has “opened floodgates” itself for corporate influence-peddling at the 57th Inaugural Ceremony.
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President Barack Obama will be publicly sworn in today—on Martin Luther King Jr. Day—to serve his second term as the 44th President of the United States.

Today is also the three-year anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that - in a 5-4 decision - deemed that corporations are "people" under the law. Former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) - who now runs Progressives United (a rhetorical spin-off of Citizens United) - said in Feb. 2012 that the decision "opened floodgates of corruption" in the U.S. political system. 

Unlike for his first Inauguration, Obama has chosen to allow unlimited corporate contributions to fill the fund-raising coffers of the entity legally known as the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Last time around the block, Obama refused corporate contributions for the Inauguration Ceremony as “a commitment to change business as usual in Washington.”

But not this time. With a fundraising goal of $50 million in its sights, the Obama Administration has "opened floodgates" itself for corporate influence-peddling at the 57th Inaugural Ceremony. 

A case in point: the Obama Administration's corporate backers for the Inaurguation have spent over $283 million on lobbying since 2009, the Center for Public Integrity explained in a recent report

This has perturbed some.  

“It’s a deeply disturbing move, and a reversal from the positive steps they took in 2009,” Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen told Roll Call. “Corporations make donations to events like the inaugural festivities because they get something back in return."

One of the biggest givers so far is none other than what Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Steve Coll calls a "Private Empire"—ExxonMobil.

ExxonMobil: Over $260,000 to Obama's Inauguration Committee

According to a scoop by The HillExxonMobil contributed $250,000 to the Inaugural Committee. Additionally, ExxonMobil attorney Judith Batty has given the Committee $10,750, according to the Center for Responsive PoliticsOpenSecrets.org. Thus, ExxonMobil has given the Committee a grand total of over $260,000.  

ExxonMobil earned a profit of $41.1 billion in 2011 and in the first three quarters of 2012 earned a profit of $34.92 billion, well on pace to surpass its 2011 profit margin.

Some mathematical context is warranted. This means ExxonMobil earned $9,935 per minute in the first three quarters of 2012, $596,107 per hour and $14.3 million per day in profits.

Despite these oligarchic-type bottom lines, ExxonMobil doesn't even pay its fair share in taxes, as ThinkProgress explained in a March 2012 article:

Citizens for Tax Justice reported Exxon paid only 17.6 percent taxes in 2010, lower than the average American, and a Reuters analysis using the same criteria estimates that Exxon will pay only 13 percent in effective taxes for 2011. Exxon paid zero taxes to the federal government in 2009.

In practice, this means that ExxonMobil actually pays less in taxes by percentage than an average Middle Class American family

For a corporation with financial wealth of this magitude and one that, to boot, evades paying taxes, $260,000 is truly a "drop in the bucket." And yet in a political system favoring those who can "pay to play," it's a true game-changer in terms of gaining direct access to the Administration. 

Obama Administration Responds...Sort Of

Critics say it's more of the same out of an Obama Administration that in the first term had a cozy relatiionship with corporate patrons. 

“It fits into a pattern of not treating this campaign-finance issue with concern when in fact it is of great concern to the integrity of the political process and our democratic system,” Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, told The Hill

The Obama team's response? According to them, they are champions of campaign-finance reform and anti-corruption measures. 

“This president has done more to reduce the influence of special interests in Washington than any administration in history,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz told The Hill



ABOUT Steve Horn

 

Steve Horn is a Madison, WI-based Research Fellow at DeSmogBlog. He is also a freelance investigative journalist whose work has appeared in Al Jazeera America, The Guardian, The Progressive Magazine, CounterPunch Magazine, TruthOut and others. Follow him on Twitter at @SteveAHorn.

The oligarchs were surely

The oligarchs were surely pleased with Obama's masterful lip service to the peasant masses attending his re-coronation. "Yes, let the peasants eat hope. It is cheaper than cake."

I remember that Wall Street funded Obama's 2008 campaign. I remember that when in 2009 the bankster CEOs used bail-out money to pay bonuses totalling billions to themselves and other bankster execs -- after millions lost their homes, jobs, savings and futures -- Obama went on TV to pay his respects to these "savvy businessmen" he said he knew. He even said he did not begrudge them their wealth. I remember that it was Obama who in 2009 and again in 2010 and 2012 put Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid on the table.

I remember that the toothless post-2008-catastrophe "banking reform" bill was crafted by a Dem-majority senate banking committee and championed by the Obama Dem administration.

I remember that the Obama-orchestrated repeal of the Bush tax cuts on incomes over $400K PRESERVES TWO THIRDS of the huge cut the wealthy got with Reagan in 1980, and explains a large portion of the present and future deficit as well as the ongoing transfer of income and wealth from the many to the few.

I remember that Obama rejected single-payor (public option) health insurance, championing instead a Republican plan giving the corporate health insurance cartel a profitable monopoly on our lives.

I remember that Obama spent hundreds of billions and thousands of lives and limbs continuing an unwinnable war in Afghanistan, which war he vows to continue at least through 2014.

ExxonMobil made monstrous profits and yet paid little in tax during Obama's first term. When I read of ExxonMobil's monstrous profits and low taxes during Obama's second term, I will remember this elitist bribe contribution to Obama's re-coronation gala.

Yes, I resent the costly three days devoted to the re-coronation of elites, knowing that in the coming weeks we will see the same elites engaged in further deceptive betrayal of the peasants, in continuation of their herding to socio-economic slaughter.

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