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October 20, 2008

Lobbyists and Companies Use Charity Gifts to Curry Favor With Lawmakers

Now that corporations and lobbyists are obligated to disclose charitable donations they make to the favorite causes of House and Senate members, it seems many of their gifts are politically motivated, reports The New York Times.

So far in 2008, corporations and lobbyists have given $13-million to nonprofit groups in honor of House and Senate members. Some of these donors have acknowledged that charitable giving is a way to build good will with lawmakers, whose decisions can have a huge effect on their business.

For example, the Exelon Corporation, a major nuclear-power company in Chicago, gave $25,000 to a nonprofit group founded by Rep. Joe Barton, a Texas Republican who has served nearly 25 years in the House and remains one of the most influential members of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. A spokesman for Mr. Barton did not respond to phone calls seeking information about the foundation.

Keith Ashdown, the chief investigator for Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group, says the donations are “a lobbying tactic that is not completely understood or even known by the public.”

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