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2004-01-09

The Buying of the President 2004: Who’s Really Bankrolling Bush & His Democratic Challengers And What They Expect In Return

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President Bush has raised a record $130 million for his 2004 campaign. Charles Lewis of the Center of the Public Integrity talks about how the process of choosing a president has moved from the voting booth to the auction block. [includes transcript]

This from today’s New York Times: A new study released Thursday shows that employees and political action committees of brokerages, banks and credit companies make up 6 of President Bush’s top 10 career contributors, a clear indicator of his increasing support from the financial sector.

In a similar study during the 2000 election, no major financial services firms were among the top 10.

The study was conducted by the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity and published as a book, "The Buying of the President 2004."

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re now joined by the author of the book and the head of the Center for Public Integrity, Charles Lewis. Welcome to Democracy Now!

CHARLES LEWIS: Nice to be here, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. Has the democratic candidate for president been chosen at this point?

CHARLES LEWIS: Well, no. Well, it’s starting to coalesce a bit, although it’s getting complicated. There is a dirty little secret in American politics. The presidential candidate who raises the most money the year before the election gets the nomination every time since 1996. Based on that, the coalescing of funds have gone around Dean who raised $40 million, compared to the $130 million that Bush raised doubling his own record shattering 1999 total. So, you know, but now Clark is surging apparently, and I guess we can get into all of that, but the money is circling, and whenever you get up in those stratospheres, you’re going to be taking money not from backyard barbecues and those kind of places, you are taking money from people that want something. So, that person theoretically, has been chosen. We’ll see if it holds in the next several months.

AMY GOODMAN: Today we’re going to look at questions like which candidate was paid by a pharmaceutical firm to give speeches while running for the senate. Who turned the homeland security act into a bonanza for the biotech industry. Who is the go-to guy for the insurance industry. But I want to start going back one election: McCain versus Bush. You talk extensively about this and particularly interesting since McCain is also known as being one-half of the McCain-Feingold Bill, that deals with campaign finance. But talk about President Bush’s rise to power, and his contributors.

CHARLES LEWIS: Well, you know, this is a story just in another stratosphere. We have never seen anything like this. This is a fellow who runs for president in ’99, had been an elected official for five or six years in the United States, and he raises three times, almost three times more than any presidential candidate in U.S. history. Why? How? He had an extensive bundling network involving hundreds and even thousands of people who not only would give checks–the Pioneer system–the Pioneers would have to raise at least $100,000, but the insidious part of the Pioneer thing is that every check would be numbered so every industry would get credit for the cash. And new documents that have come out show letters where they want to make sure they get credit. Now, why do they want credit? Gosh, I wonder. But anyway, so he gets the money. He starts to rise. But then a stunning thing happens. McCain beats him in New Hampshire. No one saw that one coming, including Karl Rove, by the way. McCain wins by 19 points. It was not even close. They go into South Carolina as the next primary in 2000, and the entire Republican establishment and moneyed interest all coalesce into South Carolina. The head of the Team 100 said, if you want to see soft money continue in American politics, you better get off your duff and get out there. So, the reason I focused heavily on South Carolina is the unaccountability of what happened. McCain was mugged. Through emails and leaflet drops and phone banking and all kinds of slightly under the radar, for the media, stuff. McCain was outspent by five to one at least by Bush and another millions and millions of dollars spent by a half a dozen to a dozen, quote, unquote, "independent groups", all of whom seemed to like George Bush, and basically smeared him. I mean, said that his wife was a drug addict and that they had a black baby and just the most spurious stuff that you can imagine to try to upset South Carolina voters. At the end of the day, Bush wins, and they think "the reformer", he had a phrase, "the reformer with results", they felt that the reformer was actually Bush, because they had seen all of these ads about being a "reformer with results". Bush had never reformed anything regarding politics in Texas, and was in fact against campaign finance reform. The facts and the truth were rendered irrelevant.

AMY GOODMAN: In fact, he made campaign finance reform a major issue when he was in South Carolina. An issue that he, I believe you said, had never raised?

CHARLES LEWIS: Right. He had political laryngitis in his career until that moment. And his proposal, it was a five-page proposal like a day before the debate, was a non-existent proposal.

AMY GOODMAN: But you also talk there, and when talking about the Pioneers (the name of the Bush campaign for the highest contributors) about the significance of Enron and when it came to South Carolina, the allegation that–and this is all too common in politics–the companies making hidden contributions by putting campaign campaigners on their payroll for a particular candidate. Can you talk about Ralph Reed?

CHARLES LEWIS: Sure, Ralph Reed, who lives in Georgia and has a company called Century Strategies contacted hundreds of thousands of voters. This was reported at the time, I’m not suggesting that I did this. Rick Burke of the New York Times did a story that Enron had Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition, on their payroll and they did not want the public or the media to know that this right-wing conservative, who is inflammatory in some circles in the U.S., was on the Bush payroll, so they put him on the Enron payroll as a lobbyist. Now of course Rove and Reed hotly denied it, but it was on page one of the New York Times a few years ago. So Reed, and what’s particularly frustrating, is what happened with this under the radar spurious stuff that happened against McCain happens two years later with Max Cleland, a guy, who as McCain put it, left three limbs on the battlefield. They had ads comparing him with, picturing him with Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, and questioning his patriotism. This was all done by Ralph Reed and others, outside groups that were not part of the party officially, and not part of the campaign against Cleland in that case. So, I mean what I’m interested in is what’s happening to American politics? We don’t know who’s out there doing anything. It’s very hard to track these people.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, you say that there was a very systematic approach to raising money with the Pioneers. Everything, the marking of the checks, the credit going to the industry. So, where are those records?

CHARLES LEWIS: Well, that’s the other part. You know, strangely, they can’t account for $60 million that they raised. They can’t quite produce those records. I made a joke in the book and said it’s like "the dog ate my homework". The excuse they have given in depositions. There’s litigation that ensued because of the Supreme Court case that was decided, the McCain Feingold case. Under oath, the head of the Pioneers and all of these people said, "well, gosh, we cannot find these records." It doesn’t sound terrifically credible, obviously.

AMY GOODMAN: They don’t legally have to hand over the information about who was contributing money?

CHARLES LEWIS: They have to hand over–the contributors themselves are disclosed but how you got there, and what you did, in this instance, this is a discovery thing, in a legal case. And now that the case has been decided by the Supreme Court, I’m sure all of these things will be rendered moot, so we’ll probably never know, at least any time soon that I can see. They’re essentially stonewalling or saying they don’t have it. However you want to interpret it.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s interesting, a lot of people will remember the Lincoln bedroom and President Clinton and the Lincoln bedroom for sale or rent, for reservation overnight to the highest donors. You talk about governor Bush in Texas. Before he was president and his own little White House there. And who got to sleep over.

CHARLES LEWIS: Well, that’s right. He had about 60 big funders sleep over. There’s something that the national media and the public don’t fully appreciate. Bush was planning to run for two or three years. Was flying people in to Texas to tutor him. Was bringing in funders to gear up the campaign and planning the Pioneer system. The funders were sleeping overnight in the governor’s mansion. What’s deceptive about that is when he announces his candidacy in March of 1999, he bursts out and within three months raises $37 million. Which at that point had never happened in American politics. So, all of the other republicans and the media all gushed over, my God, he’s so popular, everyone is swarming to him. He clearly, as far as I can tell, had been laying the groundwork for two years. When did you start announcing your campaign and when did it officially begin? Is it the day that you file your papers or the day you start collecting checks? There was clearly a lot of orchestration going on here that’s not been fully ever laid out, and it’s pretty interesting, I think.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Charles Lewis. He is author of, along with his staff at the Center for Public Integrity, "The Buying of the President, 2004: Who’s Really Bankrolling Bush and his Democratic Challengers and What They Expect in Return." Now the biggest money for Bush. Where is it coming from?

CHARLES LEWIS: It’s coming from the financial sector, as just noted, from the Times this morning. Six out of ten of his top career patrons are from the financial district. But the issue with Bush is, he is an incumbent president. He’s obviously friendly to the business community. And that is, you know, that means just that people are going crazy. I mean, he’s gone from $67 million that he raised in 1999 as a challenger, to $130 million you know, four years later. So, he’s expanding his financial base, and clearly, there are companies and industries all over America that are very happy with Mr. Bush and his policies. And so it’s not just the financial sector, obviously. It’s from the mining companies, the pharmaceutical industry. Back in 1992, the pharmaceutical companies, the richest and most profitable industry in America gave evenly to both parties. Now they give between 80% and 90% to the Republicans because for the first time in a half century, the Republicans control the entire, with a capital 'E', Federal Government. So, what’s happening is money is following power, which frequently happens when you track money in a substantial, huge way. The fact that it’s not just Bush in the White House it’s across the board, and these companies now see this is a spectacular moment for them, a bonanza. They’re not only giving them money and they’re writing the Bills and look out! And that’s what’s happening.

AMY GOODMAN: Not in their wildest dreams did the mining industry imagine that a kindred soul, hell, one of their own lobbyists would become chair of the Republican Party.

CHARLES LEWIS: That’s right. Mark Roscoe was a mining lobbyist. He is now by the way, a lobbyist helping companies get Homeland Security contracts after he has left and a new lobbyist, Mr. Gillespie, is now. So, the corporate community has embraced, you know, this administration. Maybe that’s probably not news to anyone, but what we do is show how they have embraced it, how much money each sector has provided. We get into a lot of detail about who got what, what policies have changed. Obviously, the environment and a lot of things have changed. So, yeah. My favorite part about the Bush chapter is the Cheney letter. I don’t know if you saw that, but the fact that...

AMY GOODMAN: Hold it for one minute. Stations are going to break to identify themselves and we’ll be back with Charles Lewis, author of "The Buying of the President, 2004" in a minute.

AMY GOODMAN: "Money, money," here on Democracy Now! We’re talking about "Buying the President, 2004." Who is really bankrolling the president and his Democratic challengers, and what they expect. We are talking to Charles Lewis, a longtime reporter who decided to do a non-profit to really do the investigations that the mainstream media rarely does. The Cheney letter?

CHARLES LEWIS: Well, we did 200 Freedom of Information Act requests, which is a record for us at the Center. We do them occasionally, but never like that. We found a letter that Dick Cheney, as C.E.O. of Halliburton sent to Vice President Al Gore. So, right off the bat, that’s an unusual letter to find. And we, you know, nothing gets by us, we instantly realized, this is intriguing. The letter urged basically the Vice President to relax–or eliminate–there was a current proposed policy to increase environmental regulation, essentially, regarding clean air and other matters. He complained about the impact that this legislative initiative or regulatory initiative would have on his industry or his company. He closed the letter saying, whatever you do, it should be in a clear and open debate in the public. This obviously is fascinating for several reasons. From an environmental standpoint looking at what happened under Bush-Cheney in the first three years with the environment. It shows what everyone has suspected. You have two people from the oil industry with basic hostility towards most of the environmental standards in this country. And, of course, they’re getting huge amounts of money from all of the industries. The polluters and the mining industries and all of those people. So, that letter kind of confirms if you had any doubt where he’s coming from, it’s in black and white on his own stationery. The real delicious irony, of course, is that he wants a clear and open debate, given that he didn’t want any of the meetings by the energy executives in America who have been secretly meeting with them to plan their policies. He has gone to court to prevent any access to information about just who was in the meetings. That’s all that the litigation is about. It’s not really about much more than that. People want to know it’s government property, public policies, wouldn’t it be nice to know who the people are who are meeting. Of course, no environmental groups were invited or included in any substantive way. The letter is a snapshot in many ways, a metaphor, to me, at least, for all of the things that I have been hearing and reading and noticing the last three years. That’s on our site. We actually have the letter up somewhere.

AMY GOODMAN: Okay. Well, Charles Lewis, a quick test, which candidate was paid by the pharmaceutical firm to give speeches while running for the senate?

CHARLES LEWIS: That was Carol Moseley-Braun.

AMY GOODMAN: Who turned the Homeland Security Act into a bonanza for the biotech industry?

CHARLES LEWIS: That, I guess, that’s Lieberman. There are several people who are friendly to the industry.

AMY GOODMAN: Which candidate proposed 32 separate tax breaks for big business that support his campaign

CHARLES LEWIS: That’s got to be Bush.

AMY GOODMAN: And who is the go-to guy for the insurance industry?

CHARLES LEWIS: That would be Senator Lieberman.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s take on the democrats right now. And look at who is funding them. Let’s begin with Howard Dean.

CHARLES LEWIS: Sure.

AMY GOODMAN: Why don’t we go in alphabetical order. Wesley Clark.

CHARLES LEWIS: Wesley lark, we didn’t have any career patrons, he announced September 17th and we turned in the manuscript. He has since raised $13 million. We are watching it, but we have to wait a few weeks to figure that out. The most interesting thing about Clark that we found is that he was a registered lobbyist at the time he announced his candidacy for a company called Axiom trying to get government contracts. While he was an analyst on CNN, and during the Iraq war, he was trying to get Homeland Security and airport security and all kinds of other government contracts, and including reportedly met with Dick Cheney in 2001 and 2002 on behalf of that company. On one hand he is creating a leadership committee to run for president basically to begin the process of that, and simultaneously, he is on the air as an expert retired general. The other part of it is he is doing what many generals do, cashing in and helping a company get contracts. It’s a part that’s not in the resume ads right now in Iowa.

AMY GOODMAN: Howard Dean.

CHARLES LEWIS: Howard Dean, Vermont is a funny state because they have limits on contributions of $400. All the Democratic numbers are approximately, well, a tenth of Bush’s numbers, but particularly so in Vermont. Even after 11 years as governor, his highest contractor is, you know, $60,000 or something like that. He’s got money from some of the telecom companies and things. The most interesting thing we found about him was he had helped–there was a utility deregulation in Vermont–and he basically assisted the utility industry in a way that infuriated many, many rate payers and may saddle them with hundreds of millions of dollars in higher rates. And one of his chief of staff, went to work as a lobbyist and a top person for the leading utility. That’s not something that you see in the ads, either. It’s just interesting. He also was–we all know that he has had an issue about his gubernatorial papers being opened up–but he also in 11 years did not open up any, did not have disclosure for himself and his own assets which are nearly $4 million or any state legislator himself and his lieutenant governor. Vermont has the worst disclosure in America. Vermont and two others have no disclosure for personal assets of their senior folks. Not only did Dean try to improve or reform it or change it, he did not endorse legislative initiatives to try to reform it.

AMY GOODMAN: What does it mean, the governor’s papers? What’s in these papers?

CHARLES LEWIS: That, I don’t know. I would dearly love to read the papers. In a way, it’s unclear. Is it correspondence from supporters? Is it memos from a staff about I’d like to run for president? I don’t think anyone really knows what’s in those documents. We know that Dean has portrayed it as a proprietary people for their personal privacy who contacted him, but it has certainly given the Republicans and the Republican National Committee an issue to portray themselves as more open than Howard Dean which has amusing ironies, to say the least.

AMY GOODMAN: Certainly the campaign changes as someone becomes as successful as Dean has become, starting on the internet, getting the small amounts of money and then when the establishment sees that he is surging ahead, a whole new group starts to give money. What has been the transformation of that campaign? How is the nature of where the money comes from changed?

CHARLES LEWIS: Well, the nature is that a lot of big companies that maybe have never even visited Vermont are giving tons of money, and there are telecom companies, there’s AOL Time-Warner. Anyway, a lot of them are embracing Dean now in the flooding of the zone, so to speak, with their cash. The part that we have to watch now, I have to tell that you because we have tracked his numbers in the first six months of the year, we now have the third quarter numbers up on the site. But we are going to see more of this. You look at his donors. You have Howard Dean’s campaign staff was the third highest donor. Patron for his career. That shows how anemic his numbers are. The third highest patron through June was $15,000. From all of those folks. AOL Time-Warner is the top donor and Microsoft is coming in, and Goldman Sachs and IBM and you have union support, united food and commercial workers. But what you will see now is more. Now that he’s up to $40 million, the numbers are going to get more corporate over time. It’s just inevitable, because they’re worried that he might actually be the nominee and some, in their way of thinking, some fluke may happen and he might actually become president. They better make sure they have an in with the next president. So you’re going to see money flow more and more to him. Obviously, everyone is waiting to see what happens to him in Iowa and New Hampshire. It does relate directly to what happens in those states, what the money flow will be in the next few weeks. AMY GOODMAM: John Edwards?

CHARLES LEWIS: John Edwards. Nothing earthshaking to report, except that 22 of the top 25 career patrons are law firms. He has already been perceived as almost entirely having funding from the trial lawyers. The question for him all along was, could he expand his base beyond trial lawyers? There’s not substantial evidence that he has done that, to be honest.

AMY GOODMAN: People just talk about trial lawyers like Bush Senior talked about the ACLU.

CHARLES LEWIS: Right, fair.

AMY GOODMAN: What trial lawyers mean? What interest does that represent?

CHARLES LEWIS: Well, no, well trial lawyers are the plaintiffs bar that brings litigation against, frequently, product liability litigation, or, you know, powerful folks when there’s no other recourse. That’s one way at looking at trial lawyers. That’s not the way many people look at trial lawyers. That is what they do–they bring lawsuits. Some people feel there’s too many lawsuits. You could do five shows on it. But that has a different thing to different people. What Edwards has done which is really interesting is he has unabashedly a trial lawyer. He doesn’t shy away from being one. In fact, he is proud that he is one. He uses the populist David and Goliath image of going into the courtroom against the suits as part of his message. And the question is if it didn’t resonate fully with Democratic voters, which is unclear, will it resonate with the rest of the nation? And no-one has ever done that. This is new territory, politically.

AMY GOODMAN: Richard Gephardt.

CHARLES LEWIS: Most interesting about Gephardt, maybe not surprising to some, but to the nation, that’s it’s just getting acquainted with him, it is relevant information. His top donor is Anheuser-Busch which gave over a half million dollar. They are based in St. Louis. On five occasions, Gephardt tried to and successfully helped the alcohol industry avoid being taxed, including a fairly famous instance in the 1990’s on Air Force One with Bill Clinton during the health care situation. The reform legislation, he wanted to make sure that you can tax tobacco, but don’t do it for alcohol and Clinton essentially agreed with him and backed off.

AMY GOODMAN: In the New York Times today in their piece on your book, they end with a spokesperson for Gephardt saying that the congressman was representing the needs of a larger employer–of a large employer in his district. It makes sense that a hometown company would have a good relationship with their member of congress. Eric Smith said about Anheuser-Busch.

CHARLES LEWIS: Well, you know, I agree with him. That’s fair. A member of congress is supposed to represent their constituents, and a big employer and company in their district, they do have to pay attention to that. However, if I’m a voter watching someone run for president, I want to know who their patrons are. I want to know who is behind them. I want to know who their friends are and who they’re going to reward when they get into power. It’s that simple. Unfortunately, we have a commercial democracy, a pay to play process, where everyone has alliances with vested interests. Whether it’s business or labor or whatever the groups are. And one of the ways to find out–we have a motto at the center "watch what they do, not what they say". Ignore the ads and the speeches. See who is behind these guys and you will learn a lot real fast. I think that’s relevant data. It’s not illegal, taking money from an Anheuser-Busch. But don’t the voters all over America, not just in St. Louis, have the right to know that’s not his best friend in the whole wide world.

AMY GOODMAN: Senator John Kerry.

CHARLES LEWIS: Kerry is an interesting guy with three terms in the Senate. What we found that I was interested in, the top patron is a law firm in Boston where his brother works. And they have given something like $222,000 over his senate career. That is one of the leading telecommunication firms in America. Kerry sits on a committee that has oversight over the telecom industry, but also the Federal Communication Commission that regulates the telecom industry. On a number of occasions, he has sort of done the bidding of certain companies that are represented by that firm, and we actually did a report separate–a breakout type report on our website in the spring, and we elaborate further in the book about this relationship. It’s not the only other relationship. He has other patrons, but that was his top patron and that was something that sort of jumped out.

AMY GOODMAN: And Dennis Kucinich, the Ohio congressman.

CHARLES LEWIS: Kucinich is the most quintessential Democratic candidate if you look at his donors and the perceptions we have as Americans of their donor base. I believe nine out of his top ten patrons are unions, and the other one is the trial lawyers association. The numbers are anemic. There’s hardly–there’s not much money there. But, you know, he has done things, obviously, to help labor and big surprise, because when you have that much concentration from nine of the top ten, you clearly, if there’s one labor candidate, pure labor candidate at the highest levels of your patron list, it’s Mr. Kucinich.

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Joseph Lieberman.

CHARLES LEWIS: Senator Lieberman is a complex case because he’s sort of a new way Democrat. He has reached out aggressively throughout his career to basically the business community. So, he has funding mechanisms, a fund raising network outside his campaign committee, by the way, which we talk about in the book. Listen to his top donors, Citigroup, Hartford Financial, Chase Enterprises, Goldman Sachs Merrill Lynch, Liebman Brothers, Credit Suisse. Heavy, heavy financial folks from the New York-Connecticut area, and insurance interests which are important in Connecticut. He has helped a number of these companies. Remember, it was Lieberman who helped the accountants change their standards, and helped–we had an Enron scandal because partly no one was watching the store in terms of auditing. When Enron broke, Lieberman was shocked that we could have this scandal and how could this happen? Lieberman has been very helpful to these accounting companies to insurance companies. We have a specific instance also with biotech companies that he is close to, and again all of these relationships are very elaborately laid out.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain the biotech connection.

CHARLES LEWIS: The biotech connection is... these things are complicated. Hold on a second. The biotech connection is...

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Charles Lewis, author of "The Buying of the President, 2004: Who’s Really Bankrolling Bush and his Democratic Challengers and What They Expect in Return." Charles Lewis is a long-time reporter, but now goes more deeply into issues as head of this non-profit that looks into moneyed interests, money connections to politics.

CHARLES LEWIS: Right. Basically what he did is he took hundreds of thousands of dollars from the biotech industry and from several other companies, and he hired their Top lobbyists on his staff. He then cosponsored bills that they wanted. To get more details, I would recommend reading the chapter for all of the listeners and viewers.

AMY GOODMAN: As we move down the alphabetical list, Carol Moseley-Braun.

CHARLES LEWIS: Carol Moseley-Braun is the person who gave speeches. I mentioned Glaxo-Wellcome paid her $20,000, which is one-third of her income, the year she was a candidate, and there was a senate ban on speech honoraria. In other words, they couldn’t receive it, but she was a senator-elect, not a senator, so weeks before taking the oath–there is a pattern with her of repeatedly poor judgment on ethical matters where she was under a cloud, under scandals, under investigations, monies–there was problems with her staff and her money being spent by her senate office. So, there are a lot of things involving the conduct while in office involving money that were very, very interesting, but, you know, she embraced Glaxo-Wellcome, back to them, the pharmaceutical industry. Powerful interests were close to her in her short time in the senate.

AMY GOODMAN: The Reverend Al Sharpton?

CHARLES LEWIS: Well, Al Sharpton, we could talk for a long time. Is he the most interesting and multitextured in terms of things we found. Obviously, a controversial figure in lots of ways. Most interesting is that the co-mingling of non-profit money with personal money. Strange things happening like records being required by the I.R.S. and there’s a fire and there’s no records provided. He’s the only candidate that’s been indicted multiple times. I mean, he is a very interesting guy. When you read it, it’s probably the most fun to read chapter in the book. You know, Sharpton is ahead of Kerry in the national poles. I don’t mean to make any aspersions about his level of candidacy. In terms of his background this is not what you would call a typical major candidate background in terms of scrapes with problems and issues. He claims he has no assets except his ring and watch because he has been under so much litigation. The suits that he wears are borrowed. When you read stuff like that, you are like, what? It’s just too interesting. I could talk for a long time about him. I find him very interesting.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you make of Ted Koppel’s questioning of Kucinich, Moseley-Braun and Sharpton saying, basically, asking if they’re running vanity campaigns? That defining the effectiveness of their campaign is to do with the money that they have raised and ABC pulling their reporters from their campaigns right after that debate.

CHARLES LEWIS: Well, you know, I think that they are saying things in their campaign that no one else is saying, and I think it’s very important for their voices to be heard, and, you know, we do have a problem where we have candidate candidates that are getting matching funds and they desperately need the matching funds, because they were never prolific fund-raisers in their careers, that are then discounted by the media as not being players because they don’t have money. And it’s sort of a vicious cycle here. Then we’ll discount them further and just have the moneyed folks who are considered important.

AMY GOODMAN: Yet as you said, even pulling behind them in the national polls. The candidates we didn’t talk about were the two parties, the Republican and Democratic parties because their money is often some of these candidates’ money.

CHARLES LEWIS: We have a big chapter on the parties, and we have the top 50 patrons for both parties. You know, Phillip Morris is the top patron for the Republican party. The tobacco companies, three of the top ten are tobacco companies for the Republican party. But, you know, you have a case of very robust corporate presence, not just tobacco. Over on the Democratic side, labor unions are all over the top ten. I believe six of the top ten are labor unions. The number one donor for the democratic party in the last ten years but probably the last 20 years is the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFSME, which has given to the 527’s. $36 million to the 527’s, the secret mysterious organizations, not counting campaigns and parties. You do see–that doesn’t mean there’s not a strong corporate presence also with the Democratic Party, but there is. But not obviously not to the extent ever the Republicans. The numbers are always lower.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Charles Lewis, thank you for taking us on this money journey through the candidates’ coffers from President Bush to the Democratic candidates, Charles Lewis is head of the Center for Public Integrity, and they have published "The Buying of the President, 2004: Who’s Really Bankrolling Bush and his Democratic Challengers and What They Expect in Return." Thank you. D">

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