Study: Del. companies cut big checks to both Dems and Republicans

By Amy Cherry 5:14pm, April 30, 2013 - Updated 5:28pm, April 30, 2013
A new study by a nonpartisan watchdog group finds some of Delaware's largest companies are cutting big checks to both Democrats and Republicans at the same time.

James Browning of Common Cause Delaware says the results reveal the vulnerability within Delaware's lobbying laws, despite recent legislative action to strengthen those laws.

"When you see someone cutting a big check both to Democrats and Republicans on the same day on the same month, it's clear this is about building access and influence in Dover and has really nothing to do with winning elections," says Browning.

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Among those companies that don't care who win, the Delaware Racing Association and tobacco giant Altria. The unprecedented study, spanning a six-year period from 2007 to 2012, found both companies hedging their bets and donating to both parties.

"So it almost seems like they don't care who wins. They just want to get their phone calls returned; they just want to get their amendments introduced, and a lot of this money really is just for access. It's about what happens after Election Day," Browning says.

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But another key finding: not all companies are doing this.

"Political donors have been abandoning the Republican Party since 2008, being foremost among them, AstraZeneca," says Browning.

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Browning says the study proves we need some sunlight regarding just how much lobbyists are making.

"The real money is in the salaries that are used to have these sort of 24j-hour a day army of lobbyists that are out there, and the average citizen is not a professional lobbyist. It's really hard to compete with that, and people have a right to know what they're up against. If they go to testify against a bill and they see the room is full of corporate lobbyists, they have a right to know: is this a fair fight that I've gotten myself into or has there been $100,000 spent on these lobbyists?" he asks.

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