By Dustin Hurst | Watchdog.org
The senator himself, however, is a different story. Ever wonder how much a senator might go for on Craiglist? Tester may have the answer to that.
See, Tester’s ad speaks to a sharply divisive issue — the 2010 Citizens United ruling issued by the U.S. Supreme Court. That decision, wildly unpopular with the country’s liberal faction, allows corporations and unions to spend endlessly on election-related independent expenditures.
The first-term incumbent has taken an aggressive stance on the ruling, arguing that the bottomless pit of money will only corrupt the election process.
Yet, Tester focuses solely on corporations, a sticky position for the senate for at least two reasons. As an entrenched Washington, D.C., insider, Tester’s taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from corporate interests while simultaneously making no mention of his top campaign contributors — cash-flush public sector labor unions.
OpenSecrets.org , an online campaign cash tracking tool facilitated by the Center for Responsive Politics, exposes an troublesome Tester fact — he’s a top recipient of corporate cash in this election cycle.
Of course, federal law bans corporations from contributing directly to candidates — that would be far too easy. Instead, business interests funnel money through political action committees.
Tester, like any other senator or congressman, holds a fine list of the who’s who in campaign finance. According to OpenSecrets.org, Visa USA PAC, the front group for the credit behemoth, has given Tester $10,000 this election cycle.
VISA, of course, is a massive corporate interest that raked in $3.65 billion last year.
The senator’s corporate admirers don’t end there.
JP Morgan Chase, another of the nation’s largest banks, also supports Tester’s re-election. The company’s PAC pitched in $10,000 to the senator, and its employees gave $37,000.
In fact, as OpenSecrets.org points out, Tester is the No. 2 recipient for commercial bank and credit union cash in the 2012 election cycle. Through the more recent reporting period, Tester raked in more than $1.9 million from PACs, 66 percent of that amount from business-related groups.
So, who’s not for sale?
Yet, Tester approved this line in the television spot: “The big corporations are back to elect Congressman Dennis Rehberg.”
Sure, Rehberg, Tester’s Nov. 6 foe and Montana’s Republican congressman since 2001, has taken plenty of corporate cash, too, and business interest fund super PACs attacking Tester. But the GOP congressman is not the politico touting his anti-corporate credentials.
Not surprisingly, Tester’s stance gives nary a mention to the out-of-state union interests hoping to spend the senator to another term in the upper chamber.
Patriot Majority is a major player in electoral politics these days. The political spending group dedicated millions aiding Nevada U.S. Sen. Harry Reid’s 2010 re-election and looks for a replay for Tester this year.
Though holding an apple pie and baseball-themed moniker, the group is only a front for a select number of American labor groups, namely the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Patriot Majority has spent more than $800,000 opposing Rehberg this year and will likely put out more cash in the next six weeks as the election winds down.
The League of Conservation Voters also is stepping up to support Tester’s re-election bid. The group, headquartered inside the D.C. Beltway, is spending heavily on Tester’s behalf. According to federal filings, LCV members have donated more than $80,000 to the Montana senator, but that’s not where the power money lies.
Instead, it’s in the ground and independent ad game. According to the Sunlight Foundation, LCV has spent at least $1.1 million supporting Tester and opposing Rehberg. The bulk of the money funded door-to-door operations, literature and television ads denigrating the Republican congressman.
Voters wouldn’t hear this from Tester, but OpenSecrets.org shows he’s the No. 1 recipient for public-sector union cash.
Yet, Tester tells voters Rehberg is the lawmaker up for bid on eBay.
Tester’s campaign did not reply to an email request for comment.
Contact Dustin Hurst at firstname.lastname@example.org