Saturday, June 01, 2013

Corporate welfare is not social welfare

It seems some diligent (and one assumes large) shareholder of the cigarette megacorporation Reynolds American, forced them to disclose their contributions to various 501(c)(4) “social welfare” nonprofits. They threw slush money into Grover's Americans for Tax Reform, the Koch boys' Americans for Prosperity and a couple of smaller fake "social welfare" groups. Considering these groups were part of a 501(c)(4) scam that spent about "$250 million to promote or attack federal political candidates" we can guess that Reynolds wasn't the only megacorp doing so. In fact, research suggests these 501(c)(4)s have become the preferred method for political donations over PACs precisely because they afford anonymity.

A lot of people are asking how they qualify as social welfare groups when they spend most of their money on political activity but I'm wondering how they can be defined as non-profits. Surely the corporations don't directly profit from them, but all the conservative ones are pushing policies and candidates that directly benefit the corporate bottom line. Nothing they do promotes the general welfare of the majority of the public.

Granted they technically qualify for the designation, but considering the effect of their work benefits only corporate interests, it seems to me they would be more properly defined as vehicles for legalized political bribery.

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