ERIC ZUESSE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Ninety percent of the corporations that were criminally convicted between 1989 and 2000 donated overwhelmingly to the Republican Party in 2012.
A study by the Corporate Crime Reporter, Russell Mokhiber, found that, “Ten out of the current top 100 donors to the 2012 political campaign have ple[a]d guilty to crimes.” The criminal-convictions file that was considered in his study included convictions during the ten years between 1989 and 2000.
An examination of this list, by the present reporter, indicates that nine of these ten big-donating criminal firms gave far more to Republican political campaigns than to Democratic ones. Only one firm, Pfizer, donated more to Democrats; and they contributed only slightly more to Democrats than to Republicans. By contrast, each one of the nine big-donating Republican criminal corporations – Honeywell, Lockheed, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Boeing, GE, Northrop, Koch Industries, Raytheon, and Exxon – donated far more to Republicans than to Democrats; and the most lopsidedly political criminal firm of them all, Koch Industries (which organized the “Tea Party” starting when Obama first entered the White House), donated a whopping 98% to Republicans.
At least according to this measure, criminal firms prefer Republican politicians overwhelmingly. It is rare, almost unheard of, to find a population that is so lopsidedly favorable to one Party over the other, as this one is: 90% vs. 10%.
Mokhiber provided the donation-figures, for each of these ten convicted firms, based on federal filings.
Another and related Mokhiber study, which was published on 3 April 2012, was titled “No Fault Corporate Crime,”and he quoted there the first-ever statement that Attorney General Eric Holder had made as the U.S. Attorney General that had employed the phrase “corporate crime.” In this statement, Holder expressed himself as being against prosecuting corporate crime, because he felt that only individuals should be criminally prosecuted. Holder has, however, also opposed criminal prosecutions of top corporate executives as individuals: not a one of them has been even prosecuted, during his term, much less convicted. Mokhiber pointed out that Holder came to his federal office from the elite corporate law firm of Covington & Burling, which defends corporations against criminal prosecutions. Mokhiber also noted, “And he’s going back to Covington & Burling.” So: Holder’s future income will be derived from corporations that will be hiring C&B to defend them from prosecutions for crimes, and from other legal charges against them. In other words: President Obama, when he had hired Holder, was actually hiring a career defender of corporations; and this person, Holder, has been continuing in this very same capacity while on the federal payroll, during his four-year hiatus from his career, as a professional corporate defender. Holder is, in other words, doing what is in his long-term personal career interest: protecting big-corporate criminals.
As the U.S. Attorney General, Holder’s policy regarding corporate criminality has been to seek what is called “deferred prosecution agreements” (basically agreements not to prosecute) instead of outright criminal convictions, against criminal firms. This policy has been carried out by Lanny A. Breuer (also from C&B), Obama’s appointed head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. Breuer’s chief argument for “deferred” (or actually non-) prosecutions, has been that after the accounting firm Arthur Anderson & Co. was almost put out of business by being criminally convicted in the 2001 Enron case, the Obama-Holder-Breuer team don’t want to hurt another criminal corporation, in a similar way.
However, a study that will be published in the Spring 2013 University of Pennsylvania Journal of Business Law will headline “Arthur Anderson and the Myth of the Corporate Death Penalty: Corporate Criminal Convictions in the Twenty-First Century.” Its researcher, Gabriel Markoff, says there: “No one has ever empirically studied what happens to companies after conviction. In this article, I do just that.” He summarizes his core finding: “The Department of Justice’s policy of preferring DPAs [deferred prosecution agreements, as opposed to criminal prosecutions] is insupportable.” In other words: Markoff finds that Obama has, essentially, been hiding behind a bogus argument, in order to protect executive crooks from being prosecuted.
Furthermore, Obama’s selected Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, has similarly refused to support criminal prosecutions of the mega-bank executives who had created the incentive-systems that produced the enormous fraudulent MBS(mortgage-backed-
As a consequence, corporate criminal prosecutions have been even fewer under President Obama than they were under the overtly Republican President, George W. Bush – and those convictions were already at historic lows.
So, if criminal corporations are still donating overwhelmingly to the Republican Party, one might wonder what can possibly be the reason, given that those executives have been getting such a terrific deal from Obama, who (at least nominally) is a Democrat? Perhaps they think that Republican politicians give them an even better deal. For example, Wall Street donated overwhelmingly to the Republican Romney campaign, against Obama, and Romney was (even publicly) promising them the moon.
When Obama, on 27 March 2009, in a private White House meeting with Wall Street CEOs, had told them “My administration ... is the only thing between you and the pitchforks,” and he thus analogized those crooked billionaires to the poor Blacks who had been hunted down and lynched by the KKK in the deep South a hundred years earlier, this seems not to have persuaded them, even though Obama actually did follow through on this secret promise he made to those financial elite that day. And Obama-Geithner-Holder-Bernanke and team did also follow through, and they completed George W. Bush’s bailout of them, and of their top crony investors.
Perhaps what Mokhiber’s study, and others, are indicating, then, is that America’s public is simply spoiling its financial elite, who feel that there is no limit to the privileges that they deserve. Staying out of prison, and even being bailed out by future U.S. taxpayers, isn’t already enough to satisfy them. They want the moon, which Romney promised them. And they almost got it. In the popular vote, at least, Romney lost by only a 2.5% margin. There were evidently lots of Americans who wanted to give the moon to these elite executives.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.