Yesterday, Bloomberg News reported that News Corp., the Fox News parent company run by Rupert Murdoch, donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association (RGA) in June. As Politico’s Ben Smith noted, “The company’s media outlets play politics more openly than most, but the huge contribution to a party committee is a new step toward an open identification between Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. and the GOP.”
A look at News Corp’s own “Standards of Business Conduct,” however, raises questions about whether the $1 million contribution to the RGA violations company policy:
B. Dealing With Government Officials
Employees who have dealings with government officials shall conform to the following standards:
1. All employees who contact public officials must be familiar with the applicable lobbying laws and public disclosure requirements, particularly those laws or regulations pertaining to registrations or filings that must be made by the Company.
2. No payment shall be made to, or for the benefit of, any public official in order to induce or entice such official to: enact, defeat or violate any law or regulation for the Company’s benefit; influence any official act; or obtain any favorable action by a governmental agency or official on behalf of the Company.
3. Social amenities, entertainment and other courtesies may be extended to government officials or employees only to the extent appropriate and reasonable under applicable laws and customs. Gifts of greater than nominal value to, or lavish entertainment of, public officials are prohibited. No gifts in the form of cash, stock or other similar consideration shall be given, regardless of amount. Any gift about which an employee is uncertain should not be made without the prior written approval of the Company’s General Counsel. Any expenses incurred by a Company employee in connection with the matters discussed herein shall be accurately recorded on the Company’s books and records.
What’s not totally clear is the intent of News Corp’s donation. Was it to “induce or entice” a public official to “enact, defeat or violate any law or regulation for the Company’s benefit”? The only public response from the company so far comes from spokesman Jack Horner, who said, “News Corporation believes in the power of free markets, and the RGA’s pro-business agenda supports our priorities at this most critical time for our economy.”
The Democratic Governors Association told ThinkProgress that it has not received any donations from News Corp.
Dow Jones, a News Corp. company, prohibits company political contributions:
Many companies, for a variety of reasons, participate in the partisan political process, at various levels of government. As a publisher, Dow Jones has a different tradition. Dow Jones does not contribute, directly or indirectly, to political campaigns or to political parties or groups seeking to raise money for political campaigns or parties, and Dow Jones does not and will not reimburse any employee for any political contribution made by an employee. All news employees and members of senior management with any responsibility for news should refrain from partisan political activity judged newsworthy by their senior editor or in the case of senior management, the Chief Executive Officer. Other political activities (including “issue oriented” activity) are permitted, but should not be inconsistent with this code.
,Time Warner has given the DGA $35,000 and the RGA $25,000. Both organizations have received $105,000 from GE (the parent company of MSNBC).
,The Washington Post reports, “A seven-figure donation is not a first for Murdoch; he gave $1 million to the California Republican Party in 1996.”