‘Fixed Fortunes’ companies investing heavily on both sides of the aisle


With appropriations season looming, many of the powerful corporations on Sunlight’s Fixed Fortunes 200 list are paying their dues to lawmakers on either side of the partisan divide.

In a few months, congressional committees will be drawing up federal agencies’ budgets for the next fiscal year. For many companies that do business with the government, the drafting of those bills could have a direct impact on their bottom line.

A preliminary review of political action committees’ January reports, detailing the money raised and spent, finds that 21 of the companies on our list made donations to party committees on both sides of the aisle. Use the sortable table below to explore the data.

Both parties are already furiously stockpiling funds for the 2016 election cycle, a contest whose presidential race alone could top the $5 billion barrier, according to top fundraisers recently interviewed by The Hill magazine.

Though a corporation may not make direct contributions to politicians or parties from their treasury, it can have a political action committee that pools contributions from its executives and contributes to candidates and committees of the company’s choice.

Unlike money given to a super PAC, which can not coordinate their ads with candidates, these so-called “hard money” contributions can be used directly in conjunction with campaigns, or donated to those committees.

This corporate largesse is a boon to both parties.

Democratic party committees raised $873,500 in January from PACs associated with Fixed Fortune 200 companies, compared to $1,263,000 pulled in by their Republican counterparts. The Republican edge is not surprising given that the GOP now controls both chambers of Congress. This analysis does not include money donated to individual campaigns.

Five political heavyweights dished out $75,000 to party committees in January:

  • Aflac Insurance
  • Boeing Company
  • CSX Corporation
  • Exelon Corporation
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers

Each of those generous givers divvied their contributions up in the same way: $15,000 a piece to both parties’ congressional and senatorial arms and another $15,000 donation to the Republican National Committee. The RNC’s counterpart, the Democratic National Committee, does not accept PAC contributions.

Aflac’s corporate giving is outlined in yearly reports to investors. According to the company’s website, the bipartisan PAC steers donations to candidates based on several criteria, including the “candidate’s understanding of and support for the free enterprise system” and “the candidate’s involvement with and position on issues important to Aflac and/or the insurance industry.”

Sunlight’s Fixed Fortunes study found the company had spent more than $30 million on campaign contributions and lobbying from 2007 to 2012.

Each of the other four corporations are major government contractors. Boeing, which builds everything from missiles to satellites for the Department of Defense, won more than $187 billion in government contracts from 2007 to 2013. The corporation spent a combined $103.7 million on campaign contributions and lobbying during that time period.

CSX, the transportation giant, has been stuck in a public relations rut of late after company rail cars carrying crude oil derailed in West Virginia, causing fires and sending cars into the Kanawha River. The company recently agreed to pay a $316,000 fine levied by Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality, stemming from another train derailment that occurred last year near Lynchburg, Va., that spilled crude into the James River.

From 2007 to 2012, CSX spent $30.8 million on federal campaign contributions and lobbying. Among the top issues its lobbyists disclosed were the environment and clean air and water.