Secret Money in Politics

Jul 20, 2012

In 2011,  Aetna spent more on lobbying than any other insurance company - 11.6 million dollars.  3.3 million went to the American Action Network, and 4.5 million went to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce - both organizations supporting conservative causes, both working against federal health care reform. Later, the company said this wasn’t “lobbying” money - it was “educational” - a big distinction in the world of money and politics.

D.C. Watchdog Group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has called for the insurance company to stop using corporate funds to influence elections.

But the fact that corporations do this is nothing new. And now companies have found loopholes around financial disclosure rules - by donating to tax exempt groups instead of Political Action Committees.

And this week the Senate killed the DISCLOSE Act without even a debate. The bill was meant to provide transparency in political fundraising.  

Today, we’ll explore the role of “secret money” in politics? What should we do about it? Is transparency too much to ask?

Aetna Statement: 

Aetna has been a leader in advocating for solutions to the problems that continue to challenge our country and our health care system. We have never hesitated to share our views on issues of importance to our business and our customers. We also support organizations and political candidates of both parties who share our views on how to address the issues we face.

The donations that we made in 2011 helped fund educational programs focused on our economy. Our goal in supporting organizations in 2011 was to raise awareness and build support for policies that will speed up the economic recovery and restart job growth. Our commitment to these goals has not changed.

Given the current intensity of the political cycle, it is important to note that we have not made similar donations in 2012. We fully report all political donations and our disclosure of these donations complies with all state and federal laws.