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Santorum Falsely Claims Democrats Get More Big Business Cash

By Josh Israel and Scott Keyes  

"Santorum Falsely Claims Democrats Get More Big Business Cash"

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Rick Santorum at South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and BIPEC

Rich Santorum speaks to the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and Business & Industry Political Education Committee (Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

TUCSON, Arizona — In a speech yesterday at a Tea Party rally, Rick Santorum attempted to strike a populist tone, telling an audience that Democrats, not Republicans are the party of large corporations.

As members of the audience applauded and one woman screamed out that the Democrats are “hypocrites,” the former senator said:

You hear this mantra, oh that Republicans are the party of Big Business. No, we’re not. No, we’re not. Look at where all the Big Business and Big Wall Street money goes. Not to us. To them. Why? Because they like big. Big government’s great for them. Because it crushes the little guy who can’t hire another guy in the compliance department to deal with the new regulation, can’t hire another person in the tax department to deal with the complexity of the new tax law. It’s the little guy that gets crushed.

Watch the video:

The facts, however, do not remotely back up Santorum’s claims. Even after the Citizens United ruling, businesses cannot donate directly to federal candidates, but corporate political action committees and executives give millions to political candidates — predominantly Republicans. The political action committee for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which calls itself “the world’s largest business organization,” has given 78 percent of its donations this cycle to Republicans — down from 88 percent in 2010. And another arm of the organization is currently orchestrating a $10 million “issue ad” campaign aiding almost exclusively Republican incumbents and candidates.

According to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, contributors from the financial sector have given over $182 million so far this cycle: 52.8 percent to Republicans, 32.5 percent to Democrats. Of those, the ones identified as part of the securities and investment sector — the very “Big Wall Street” donors Santorum referenced — have favored Republicans by about a two-to-one ratio. Other sectors, including health (54.8 percent GOP), energy (70.1 percent GOP), and defense (61.1 percent GOP) similarly contradicted Santorum’s premise.

And these figures do not include any of the millions of dollars big business tycoons and billionaire investors have given to Republican-allied super PACs — including two million dollar donors to the pro-Santorum Red, White & Blue Fund.

The truth is that businesses interests tend to give some money to each party and their donations tend to coincide partially with who controls the most seats in Congress (currently, the Republicans). But with Wall Street and the business community likely to spend record sums to stop President Barack Obama’s consumer protections, the Republicans may be more the party of Big Business than usual.

Of course, Rick Santorum should know all this; as the Senate Republican Conference Chair in 2001, he oversaw the party’s outreach to the business community and its K Street lobbyists. And at the time, Frederic A. Nichols, political director for the National Association of Manufacturers, praised the his efforts, saying “It’s clear that there needed to be more outreach to the business community from the Senate side. Santorum sees that it should be a major priority of the Conference.”

‹ Morning Briefing: February 23, 2012

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