|Election 2012 - Trucking, Money and Politics|
|Thursday, 13 September 2012 08:26|
Hey brother, can you spare a $100 mil?
Truckers tend to view the whole political process as tainted by influence pedaling from big money lobbyist shilling for their masters. There are actually good reasons to be skeptical. Ever wonder how much is spent by trucking industry and related organized labor unions to influence legislation and regulations in Washington D.C.? How about more than a hundred million bucks since 2010!
Lobbyists and the people who employ them are often derided as “special interests” when lobbying for outcomes beneficial to their specific client. For the trucking industry, “special interests” include many trucking associations, motor carriers, and unions that collectively spend tens of millions of dollars annually in direct lobbying expenses. Those same entities also pour additional cash contributions indirectly to politicians coffers through their associated Political Action Committees (for the record, the CCTA spends approximately 7.3% of annual dues revenue engaged in lobbying activities).
There are all kinds of anecdotes used to justify this dysfunctional political system that is so dependent on money from the regulated class.
Trying to discover who is spending the most to influence trucking issues takes a little digging – but it’s all available online at www.opensecrets.org and just takes a little finessing to coax out the data. Some industry heavy-weights mask their lobbying activities because of how they are allowed to categorize themselves.
For instance, UPS and FedEx are the two largest motor carriers in the nation according to the 2012 Transport Topics Top 100 list. They do not show up in the database as a trucking lobbying interest. Instead, they are in the category of aviation for lobbying purposes. Likewise, organized labor is allowed to classify themselves and their issues as unrelated to trucking even though they too spend significantly influencing laws and regulations related to trucking.
Not surprisingly, four of the top five lobbying organizations above are also the top money gifters on Capitol Hill. It is not unusual for the party in power to generally benefit the most financially from PAC’s since they control committees. However, during the past two and a half years, Republicans grabbed the lion’s share of PAC funding from private industry excluding organized labor and driver organizations:
Both transportation companies also gave more of their PAC dollars to Republicans than Democrats but as you’ll see in a later graph, organized labor ended up swinging the overall cash give to Democrats.
Organized labor as usual spent significantly on issues they believed would help bolster union membership. However, for all their spending, they lost on their biggest legislative priority – the Employee Free Choice Act - a.k.a. card check.
As we approach the November election, all the financial numbers shown on the graphs above will continue to grow. All the gifters expect something in return – to shape public policy to their benefit.
A further break down of results shows a real contrast in the beneficiaries of trucking association PAC funds during the 2010 to 2012 election cycle. During that cycle, Democrats controlled the U.S. Senate and Republicans the House of Representatives.
The top two trucking related trade associations were almost polar opposites with who they shared their financial generosity. The ATA gave 68% of their financial support to Republicans and only 32% to Democrats. Conversely, OOIDA gave 70% to Democrats and 30% to Republicans. Often money was given to politicians with no direct connection to transportation related issues.