Why Are Bailed Out Firms Donating Political Money?

WASHINGTON - JUNE 22: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner holds his papers during a Congressional Oversight Panel hearing about the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) June 22, 2010 in Washington, DC. Geithner told Congress that taxpayers are recovering investments from the bailouts of financial institutions, but would likely lose money in the AIG rescue.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The Atlantic has an article up detailing a shift in political giving among bailed-out companies from Democrats to Republicans. The article does a bit of proverbial head-scratching as to why the shift in allegiance may be taking place. That much is obvious.

The nation’s political power is shifting from Democrats to Republicans again, and it doesn’t do a lot of good to pay off the people who aren’t in charge.

But the larger question is…why are these politicians accepting contributions from banks who still owe bailout money to the taxpayers?

Companies that received federal bailout money, including some that still owe money to the government, are giving to political candidates with vigor. Among companies with PACs, the 23 that received $1 billion or more in federal money through the Troubled Assets Relief Program gave a total of $1.4 million to candidates in September, up from $466,000 the month before.

Most of those donations are going to Republican candidates, although the TARP program was approved primarily with Democratic support. President Obama expanded it to cover GM and other automakers.

The politicians accepting this money should be shamed into giving it back. But they won’t. Because they have no shame.


Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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