Senator Hatch Takes Sin Money

October 12, 2005 | 110 comments
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A long time ago, when I was a practicing lawyer, I concocted a scheme with another Mormon lawyer to raise an investment fund targeted at companies that cater to vices. Alcohol, tobacco, p0rn, etc. We reasoned from the scriptures that the world would get worse before it would get better. Why not profit from knowing the future? This was all tongue in cheek, of course, and we never acted on our idea. Orrin Hatch apparently doesn’t see the humor:

Sen. Orrin Hatch, a former LDS bishop who does not drink, has taken more money from wine, beer and liquor groups this year than any other congressional candidate.

The alcohol interests gave him $25,000. Rep. Mike Thompson, R-Calif., whose district is in California’s wine country, is second with $21,568. In third place with $20,000 is Rep. Anne M. Northrup, R-Ky., who represents an area famous for bourbon.

That is not all. Hatch, R-Utah, who follows his LDS faith’s admonition against smoking, took the fifth-most money this year among all congressional candidates from tobacco interests. The $13,000 he took was more than was donated to such tobacco-state politicians as Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C. ($11,000), and Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C. ($9,500).

Again, Hatch, who says he also opposes gambling, as does his LDS faith, took the 15th most among Senate candidates this year from gambling interests. The $8,000 he accepted was more, for example, than has been accepted by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who also is a Latter-day Saint and who represents a state famous for casinos. Reid took $5,000 from such groups.

Would it really be so hard to take a principled stand against these products?

Wait a second, there is a principle:

Dave Hansen, Hatch’s campaign manager, said Friday, “The senator made the decision from the beginning that if a group wanted to make a contribution because what he is doing in Washington is good for Utah and America, and it is a legal and lawful group, he would accept it.”

Don’t even think about the “H” word (hypocrisy, that is):

A Hatch spokesman said it is not hypocrisy to take money from groups whose products the senator opposes. The spokesman said the groups may donate because they like Hatch’s stands on many issues besides what he thinks personally of their products.

They must want Harriet Miers, too.

Thanks to Paul Hunter for the tip.

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110 Responses to Senator Hatch Takes Sin Money

  1. A Nonny Mouse on October 12, 2005 at 6:02 pm

    When I read this in the paper, particularly this statement:
    “A Hatch spokesman said it is not hypocrisy to take money from groups whose products the senator opposes. The spokesman said the groups may donate because they like Hatch’s stands on many issues besides what he thinks personally of their products.”

    my critical thinking crap-detector went off. I was like, “Uhhh… Calling evil good and good evil? Anyone?”

  2. Adam Greenwood on October 12, 2005 at 6:05 pm

    I linked to this on the sidebar a bit ago. For what its worth, I’d probably take money from these groups too, unless I found it was affecting my judgment in some way. Though for no logical reason I might draw the line at the p*rn people.

  3. ed on October 12, 2005 at 6:13 pm

    I agree with Hatch. Why turn down the money? If you do, then it just means that the vice-mongers have more money and you have less. Unless, like Adam said, you find it’s affecting your judgement in some way.

  4. Eric S. on October 12, 2005 at 7:01 pm

    I am personally opposed to crappy music and movies. But if I were a poltician I would not refuse money from the music and movie studios. I am personally opposed to mullets, but would not refuse the contribution of a mullet-coiffed constituent. I am personally opposed to cheese in a can, but would not refuse money from the Cheez Whiz Coalition. There are many legitimate criticisms that could be leveled against Senator Hatch; this one is ridiculous.

  5. Eric S. on October 12, 2005 at 7:03 pm

    Additionally, the analogy Gordon makes is inapt. A politician receives contributions to fund a campaign; he is not personally enriched thereby (theoretically). This is different from an investor seeking to profit from the operations of these companies, isn’t it?

  6. Cyril on October 12, 2005 at 7:08 pm

    Eric, of course you realize there is a chasm between Cheez Whiz and p0rn. Gordon has a point here. Money is the blood of politics, and Hatch is being transfused with dirty money more so than his brethren.

  7. Mark Butler on October 12, 2005 at 7:14 pm

    I understand there was a time when the Church would not accept tithing contributions from those employed in casinos or related industries, but that it is no longer the case. Should political leaders be held to a higher standard, barring evidence that they actually promote the undesirable activities in question?

  8. sam b on October 12, 2005 at 7:23 pm

    This pushes us toward thorny issues beyond poor Hatch. Hatch can at least (honestly) respond that alcohol is not forbidden to non-Mormons, and there’s no compelling data that moderate use is dangerous (except to Mormons). But what about something that’s just plan wrong no matter what?
    Enter Marriott, Inc. If I remember the stats right, the most actual $$ accrued from porno in the US is via Marriott hotels. Provo had to sue Marriott to get the porno out. Must feel great getting up every morning, slipping expensive business suit over underclothing and greeting a new day of pandering to sexually deranged business travelers.

    What about those of us that invest in mutual funds that contain tobacco companies? tobacco’s probably worse than alcohol, though in different ways. How can we disentangle ourselves from the web of interdependency that the sacred market induces?

  9. Ivan Wolfe on October 12, 2005 at 7:24 pm

    Does Harry Reid get money from these people too? Or do we only get mad when Republicans do it?

  10. K. Follett on October 12, 2005 at 7:25 pm

    I would be much more concerned about allegations that a politician took money from a “legitimate” business and then worked to include special favors in legislation on that business’s behalf than I am about a politicial taking money from businesses that sell products the politician personally finds distasteful. If, for example, someone could tie a specific legislative proposal that goes against Hatch’s political beliefs but benefitted the individual or organization that made a contribution–now, that would be something to fret about.

  11. Melanie on October 12, 2005 at 7:28 pm

    Am I going to the telestial kingdom because I eat Kraft macaroni and cheese? Kraft is owned by big tobacco… Maybe they give their macaroni and cheese earnings to Mormon politicians. I think that’s what I’ll pretend as I eat my unprincipled dinner…

  12. Eric S. on October 12, 2005 at 7:33 pm

    I suppose he should also not taking money from the beef industry, since we believe in eating meat only in times of famine.

  13. Nate Oman on October 12, 2005 at 7:38 pm

    Ivan: Harry Reid does not seem to take money from booze or tobacco. However, his second largest contributing industry is gambling at over $500,000. For a breakdown of his contributors by industry see here.

  14. Curtis on October 12, 2005 at 7:38 pm

    Do you guys feel similarly about Marriot Hotels providing p0rn channels?

  15. Nate Oman on October 12, 2005 at 7:41 pm

    Curtis: For what it is worth, I regard Marriot’s complicity in p0rn as much more troubling that Hatch’s complicity with booze…

  16. Nate Oman on October 12, 2005 at 7:42 pm

    On the Hatch Reid comparison, it is worth noting the difference in the numbers. Hatch has taken in the neighborhood of $20 k from the distilling industry in this cycle. Reid has taken in the neighborhood of $520 k from the gaming industry.

  17. Derek on October 12, 2005 at 7:48 pm

    So, accepting money from companies you oppose is now a bad thing? Does that mean you shouldn’t sue a tobacco or alcohol or porn company?

    Every dollar you take from the company is one dollar less that the company can spend on marketing or supportive politicians or on lowering the prices of their products.

  18. Matt Evans on October 12, 2005 at 8:20 pm

    I agree with Ed. In fact, I welcome evil companies to give as much of their money away as they possibly can. If Hatch is bought with such money, then of course that’s a different matter.

  19. Julie in Austin on October 12, 2005 at 8:27 pm

    I’m a little bummed by the flippant and dismissive comments. I find this a large and troubling issue and I’d like to see some real discussion of it.

    On the one hand, my husband and I have invested money in these companies, so I am no more or less gulty than Hatch.

    On the other hand, surely we don’t think that these companies are lining Hatch’s pockets becaues, hey, they just happened to have a couple extra K hanging around . . . THEY EXPECT SERVICES FOR PAYMENT. Let’s not be naive.

    On the other hand, where to draw the line? What about coffee and tea producers? Businesses open on Sunday?

    On the other hand, some lines should be obvious, and I personally would have a hard time answering that temple recommend questions about apostate groups and sustaining the prophet if I had cashed checks from some of the above.

    On the other hand, where to draw the line? What if you are a pest control company–should you kill roaches in Hugh Hefner’s house or refuse on principle? It is a little unreasonable to suggest that all LDS have to vet the morality of everyone that they do business with.

    As you can tell by the proliferation of my hands, I think this is a tough issue.

  20. Curtis on October 12, 2005 at 8:27 pm

    What if the evil companies are returning some sort of favor to Hatch?

  21. Julie in Austin on October 12, 2005 at 8:28 pm

    BTW, Matt, we were posting at the same time–I wasn’t calling you personally flip or dismissive. But I’d ask: what do you think these companies are doing if it isn’t trying to buy him?

  22. Nate Oman on October 12, 2005 at 8:46 pm

    “On the other hand, surely we don’t think that these companies are lining Hatch’s pockets becaues, hey, they just happened to have a couple extra K hanging around . . . THEY EXPECT SERVICES FOR PAYMENT. Let’s not be naive.”

    Julie: I am sorry, but this is a bit niave. First, contributions don’t line anyone’s pockets. They are used to defray the costs of campaigns, which is slightly different. Second, contributors don’t give money in a quid pro quo. Rather, what they tend to do is identify candidates who are already ideologically inclined to support their position and then support that candidate. In other words, money follows particular policy preferences rather than vice versa. Indeed, there is an extensive political science literature on this, and most — if not all — of the data suggests that campaign contributions have little or no impact on the voting patterns of particular politicians. Furthermore, economically it doesn’t make sense for companies to pay politicians for services, since such deals are legally unenforceable and thus present major agency cost problems. It makes much more sense to invest in politicians who already agree with you.

    Obviously, money has an effect on who gets elected in the first place (although incumbency and other factors mean that money has diminishing marginal importance in election races). On the other hand, this is not exactly the same thing as buying the vote of a particular politician. Furthermore, at the end of the day in elections it is ultimately the voters who cast the votes.

  23. Mark Butler on October 12, 2005 at 8:50 pm

    Of course contributors expect to accomplish or promote something, but it is not a foregone conclusion that they are primarily interested in laws regulating their particular brand of vice, given that more general legislation predominates and has a greater effect on day to day operations.

    I would be much more concerned about state legislators taking such constributions than federal ones. On the federal level, the opportunity to be corrupted by other industries that are more tightly regulated and have more to gain from minor changes (say finance or pharmaceuticals) is much greater.

  24. Mark Butler on October 12, 2005 at 8:52 pm

    s/constributions/contributions/

  25. Seth Rogers on October 12, 2005 at 9:07 pm

    I once heard an interview of a film critic on the radio. He talked about how it is common practice for a Hollywood studio, prior to the release of its most recent aspiring blockbuster, to invite all the major film critics to a dinner/party. At the party, the film critics will meet with the actors involved who will all gush about what a wonderful experience creating this film was, and how they “really hope it does well,” etc. etc.

    Some critics refuse to attend these parties out of principle. Others attend saying that they certainly aren’t going to turn down a free dinner and that it won’t affect their reviews anyway.

    The same issue arises in family medicine where drug companies send their representatives to treat your doctor’s entire office staff to take-out Olive Garden (or whatever). This is pretty common practice today. During lunch, the rep will typically bend the doctor’s ear about the newest wonder-drug being marketed. This is, of course, extremely toned down from the extravegances of the 1980s. I know of at least one instance where the pharmaceuticals hosted an educational conference about treatment options, and just happened to rent Disneyland for an entire evening for the doctors’ families.

    Again, some doctors accept such offerings and some do not. Who is right?

    In the case of the doctors, one explanation I heard a lot is that drug-reps (who seem to almost resemble Capitol Hill’s lobbyists) provide genuinely useful information about what drugs are available (besides, the free samples come in very handy for some of the doctor’s more impoverished patients). As long as the doctor maintains autonomy of judgment, there’s no problem, right? Right?

    Well, that’s the question isn’t it?

  26. Julie in Austin on October 12, 2005 at 9:10 pm

    “It makes much more sense to invest in politicians who already agree with you.”

    Why–if they already agree with you? If the goal is to ensure that they get re-elected, then I imagine the candidate’s thinking could go something like this: “Well, if I decide to vote against the interests of XYZ Corp., then I can kiss that check that I’ve becomed accustomed to spending goodbye during the next campaign cycle.”‘

    ‘”Obviously, money has an effect on who gets elected in the first place”

    That’s about all I was saying in the first place.

    Now Mark may have provided us a way out of this (unless I am overreading him): it may be that what the tobacco, alcohol, etc. companies want from Hatch is what all companies want: environmental, labor, trade, etc., laws that don’t harm their business. In this case, it makes no difference what their product is. Or does it?

  27. Seth Rogers on October 12, 2005 at 9:46 pm

    Actually, big business doesn’t necessarily always support the Republican or the politician who agrees with them the closest.

    Professor Magelby at BYU’s Political Science department told us he conducted a study on campaign contributions and found that big business usually contributes to the INCUMBENT regardless of whether they are Democrat or Republican. This is because statistically, incumbents win (barring a major scandal). They want to back the winning horse.

  28. scott on October 12, 2005 at 10:10 pm

    “Julie: I am sorry, but this is a bit niave. First, contributions don’t line anyone’s pockets. They are used to defray the costs of campaigns, which is slightly different. Second, contributors don’t give money in a quid pro quo. Rather, what they tend to do is identify candidates who are already ideologically inclined to support their position and then support that candidate. In other words, money follows particular policy preferences rather than vice versa. Indeed, there is an extensive political science literature on this, and most – if not all – of the data suggests that campaign contributions have little or no impact on the voting patterns of particular politicians.”

    Nate, are you just making a general point about political science (perhaps money doesn’t influence elections as much as most people thought) or are you suggesting that “I’ll take the evil guys’ money but won’t let it influence me” is a valid rationalization?

    There seem to be two issues. One: are evil companies who donate cash to campaigns actually influencing public policy (or getting any sort of return on their investment)? Two: should a moral and principled candidate take their money?

    Nate (and his highly non-specific allusion to poli sci studies) may have a point on the former issue, but I have to say that I share Julie’s “naive” suspicion that the evil guys are getting _something_ in return for their gifts. For example, suppose I have a real visceral anger at the advertising tactics of tobacco companies and the horrible externalities (like second-hand-smoke-induced allergies and athsma, birth defects and other long term damage to children, general health costs, etc.) caused by their product. Could I maintain this same feeling if I were taking money from them? Or would the cash gifts–over a period of years or decades–gradually soften my views and emotions, perhaps in subtle ways?

    As for the second point, I am a bit disappointed in Hatch. We have here a highly morally motivated, high-profile incumbent with such little risk of ever losing an election — if Hatch cannot afford to take a principled stand by rejecting money from evil causes then who can?

    Perhaps it would make a difference if we all sent letters to Hatch telling him we are bothered by his acceptance of tobacco money. It may be that he’s so much a part of the “everybody is doing it” Washington culture, that he doesn’t realize how bad this looks to his more “naive” constituents.

  29. JKS on October 12, 2005 at 10:48 pm

    I think it is only really significant if he can be “bought” with this money.\
    Why do companies give money to political candidates? Because its the “in” thing to do if you can afford to. It makes companies feel important.
    I think the line Hatch draws is appropriate. If it is legal and lawful. Where else could he draw a line? Would he need to check out each company and each person for LDS values or only over a certain dollar amount?
    I also think that these amounts don’t seem high enough to “buy” him. I’m sure if he received a $500K donation, he might want to know exactly what they expect for the $500K, but $8-$25K (and that $25K came from multiple sources I assume) seems like pretty small change.

  30. a random John on October 12, 2005 at 10:48 pm

    While we’re at it, anybody find it odd that the Senator’s son works as a lobbyist for Disney and other Hollywood interests and Hatch is always supporting or sponsoring ever more draconian copyright legislation? No conflict there that I can see…

  31. GeorgeD on October 12, 2005 at 10:53 pm

    [redacted]

  32. cameron rowley on October 12, 2005 at 11:15 pm

    thank goodness i’m from Texas, where we have no corrupt politicians to worry about

  33. Jonathan Stone on October 12, 2005 at 11:17 pm

    There is a huge difference between investing in “sin” companies and taking campaign contributions from them.

    Investing in them is helping them do business. (And I must admit that I am guilty of this, since I have invested in an S&P 500 fund that no doubt includes companies that make liquor, cigarettes, and obscene entertainment).

    Taking campaign contributions from them does not help them do business, provided there is no quid pro quo. Does anyone at all believe that Hatch has ever deviated from his normal vote (dictated by political philosophy) in order to specifically favor an alcohol, tobacco, or gambling company? I certainly don’t believe it. But taking their money does help you get elected, which is presumably a good thing, since you think you will help the country by being a senator.

    So before condemning Hatch for taking their money and doing good with it (or at least, better than they would have done), can anyone point out any improper votes?

  34. scott on October 12, 2005 at 11:41 pm

    You can be influenced without being bought. It’s like advertising. You can be influenced by billboards, funny but essentially contentless radio adds, squishy toys with corporate logos on them. Doctors can be influenced by the myriad free trinkets that drug companies give them.

    If you’re a politician and you spend much of your time obsessing over whether you have enough money to get elected/reelected, how can you not be influenced by the knowledge that certain evil guys are helping you stay afloat? Of course you can’t pinpoint “this vote is a consequence of this contribution.” But you can point out that tobacco gives money to lots of candidates and you can suspect (and probably never prove) that smoking in public would be forbidden more places, tobacco advertising more regulated, tobacco taxes higher, etc. if this were not the case.

    And even if Hatch has one of those rare iron personalities that can’t be influenced by anything, isn’t there something to be said for avoiding the appearance of evil? I’m not arguing that we ban corporate campaign contributions altogether. I’m just saying that I don’t want my Mormon senator taking tobacco money. Why is that so much to ask?

  35. Daylan Darby on October 13, 2005 at 12:00 am

    We have Gadiantons in high places.

  36. Matt Evans on October 13, 2005 at 12:06 am

    Julie, I’m sure these companies are hoping to buy Hatch, or at least access to him, and I think it would be wrong for Hatch to listen to a tobacco lobbyist because they gave him money. But I don’t know how he decides who to admit in his office, and I’m most concerned with how he uses his power, anyway.

    If Hatch or another politician were trying to make a moral point, it would be most clever to accept the money then donate it to a counter-industry group (accompanied by a press release, of course). The free publicity would be worth more than the contribution. Too bad no one’s hired me as a political consultant. : )

  37. a random John on October 13, 2005 at 12:14 am

    How dumb are these companies? Here they are throwing their money away. You think they’d be smarter than that. Right? RIGHT? Or maybe they aren’t that dumb…

    Also, why doesn’t Senator Hatch take the opportunity to take a stand and not take this money. It isn’t like he has faced a serious challenge in years. How badly does he need each and every dollar? He could dance naked in the street and Utah will still elect him.

  38. Tim J. on October 13, 2005 at 12:29 am

    Elder De Hoyos of the Seventy spoke of something somewhat related to this at this past GC:

    “When I was serving as a missionary in northern Mexico, a few days after the baptismal service of the Valdez family, we received a telephone call from Brother Valdez asking us to come to his house. He had an important question for us. Now that he knew the will of the Lord regarding the Word of Wisdom, and even though it would be difficult to find a new job, he wondered if he should continue to work for the cigarette company where he had worked for many years. Only a few days later Brother Valdez again asked us to come by and visit him. He had decided to quit his job because he was not willing to go against his convictions. Then with a smile and emotion in his voice, he told us that the very day he quit his old job, another company had called to offer him a much better position.”

    Though this is not completely related to the topic, it does answer a few questions. I think investing in, accepting money from, and working for these companies SHOULD go against our convictions as LDS saints even though they may not be inherently wrong.

  39. El Jefe on October 13, 2005 at 12:46 am

    “And the Lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.”

    We are such purists sometimes; eager to point fingers at others. Personally, I probably would not accept those contributions were I in Senator Hatch’s place; but I am not. He can square those with his own conscience. It doesn’t bother me.

    Don’t ever criticize a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes*.

    *That way, you’ll be a mile away, and you’ll have his shoes. (Jack Handey)

  40. Lamonte on October 13, 2005 at 8:37 am

    Before he left for his mission my son was employed by Starbucks. They paid OK and had good benefits. When he left on his mission he endorsed a payroll check and asked me to include it in the donation envelope with his missionary monthly payment. No one at church headquarters complained or returned the money. I always wondered how Starbucks reacted when they got a canceled check endorsed by “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints.”

  41. annegb on October 13, 2005 at 8:53 am

    I think there is a great deal of arrogance in Orrin Hatch and his staff, some I know sort of personally. I think he thinks his butt is gold.

    Like a lot of prominent Utah Mormons.

    I don’t know, though, maybe I would take sin money, too, if I was a politician.

  42. Nate Oman on October 13, 2005 at 9:57 am

    Julie and Scott: I am making a point about political science not morality. Look, if I am a lobbyist who controls the funds of some PAC and I am thinking about how to best influence legislation, I have basically two ways in which I can use my PAC money. First, I can identify legislators who vote against me and make contributions to them in the hope that it will change their voting. Second, I can identify legislators and candidates who already vote my way and help them get elected and stay elected. The first scenario involves a kind of quid pro quo buying of votes. The second scenario does not. More importantly — from my lobbyist perspective — the second strategy will get me more political bang for my buck. In other words, it doesn’t make sense to buy someone’s vote; it makes more sense to see to it that my friends get elected and stay elected.

    It is very easy to find correlations between contributions and voting behavior. It is more difficult to figure out which way the causation flows. One widely cited study looked at the voting behavior of politicians who had declared that they would not run for re-election. At this point they presumeably are no longer beholded to donors because they don’t need a campaign chest for the next election. It turns out that their behavior didn’t change much. I am not aware of any studies that have found evidence that campaign contributions change the voting behavior of politicians. Magleby’s studies with regard to donations to incumbents, I think, represent a different dynamic. One can look at this as the corporations purchasing access, or one can look at it as the politicians performing a shakedown of the corporations. This is certainly the strategy that Tom Delay has pursued in the House.

    There is a second line of criticism of contributions that is seperate from the (basically unsupportable) claim that politicians change their votes on the basis of donations. This is the claim that the wrong sort of people get elected because of they support monied interests. In other words, the claim is not that Senator Smith changes his vote because of donations from Corp. PAC, but rather that there are too many legislators with Senator Smith’s beliefs in the legislature. The oddity of this line of argument is that it assumes that we can determine the proper make of of the legislature independent of the choices that voters actually make. Without such an assumption, we would have no criteria by which we could determine whether or not further regulation of the process was necessary.

    My basic point is that the journalistic stereotype of how campaign contributions work is simply wrong. The reality is considerably more complicated and ambigious than the imagined world of venal politicians whose votes are up for sale for campaign contributions. There simply is not much in the way of social scientific evidence to support such theory.

  43. Nate Oman on October 13, 2005 at 10:00 am

    Matt: I think that your scheme would be illegal. Campaign contributions are given to support campaigns. The money is not given to candidates but to campaign committees. These committees, in turn, are subject to regulation on how they may spend the money. If you do get hired as a political consultant, at the very least I hope that you will run your scheme’s by a lawyer before you start sloshing the money around. You are far too nice a guy to go to prison ;->

  44. John Mansfield on October 13, 2005 at 10:03 am

    In the category of flippant and dimissive comments, the grand champion would be Rex Lee on donations from Geneva Steel to BYU: “Some say it’s tainted money. I say ’tain’t enough.” Pretty good line.

  45. Adam Greenwood on October 13, 2005 at 10:05 am

    To further Nate Oman’s point, we shouldn’t assume that what sin companies are getting from Hatch is something specific to them. Quite possibly they like his positions on corporate regulation in general or tariffs or what not. This is why, if I were a candidate, I wouldn’t object to taking money from these sources. I’d figure they liked something I was for, and I’d feel comfortable that I was for it whether they donated to me or not.

  46. jjohnsen on October 13, 2005 at 10:19 am

    I think it would be interesting to see how Hatch has voted over the years when it comes to issues concerning these big donars. By itself the money means nothing, they contribute to everyone. But when you line up the money next to a voting record maybe something interesting will come of it.

  47. Stephen Hardy on October 13, 2005 at 10:32 am

    I don’t see a big difference between investing in a company and accepting poltical campaign donations from them. Either act strengthens the company in some way. Some here have suggested that they might feel compelled to take a contribution from a tobacoo or alcohol company because that contribution may actually weaken the company. This seems like a “bleeding the beast” strategy employed by certain well-known fundamentalist welfare cheats. But it ain’t so. These companies donate to Senator Hatch because it furthers their interest, and makes them stronger.

    The decision from the church to accept tithe monies from alcohol or gambling interests should not be mis-understood. Many Mormons living in Los Vegas or in other casino-dominated economies may have no choice but to work either directly or in-directly for the gaming interests. I believe that the church isn’t comfortable telling these many lower-level bread-winners to quit right away. They may become uncomfortable with their decision to work at such-and-such and eventually get a job elsewhere (as was lauded in the general authority talk.) However, this same acceptance should not, in my opinion, be offered to those in high-placed positions who have the luxury of many competing options.

    So, for me, this makes me ashamed of my Mormon politicians. As has been stated, it is hard to understand why Senator Hatch accepts such donations. He surely doesn’t need the money. I am relatively certain that he wouldn’t take money from just ANY source. Do you think he would accept donations from a pro-choice group, or from a pro-gay-marriage group? (I know, I know, they wouldn’t donate to him anyway.)

    In addition to this, I hold Senator Hatch to a different standard than Senator Reid. I have always believed that Senator Hatch wears his religion on his sleeve, for its general appeal, while Senator Reid has been more quiet about his faith. Do others see it this way?

    Finally, Senator Reid represents a state where the gaming industry is an important part of the economy. Does this have any impact on his decisions, or on our opinions about his decisions? Is it harder to turn away an important local player? Or is it that much more important to “make a point?”

  48. scott on October 13, 2005 at 10:38 am

    Nate: you argue that donors give money primarily in order to get people who agree with their positions into office, not in order to influence the people they are giving to. I disagree. Two objections to you argument:

    1. It is unlikely that any single donor can give enough money to actually swing an election. A company or every reasonably sized industry who decides to spends its money trying to change the dynamic of congress is going to have a very difficult time. You give money to a hundred candidates and in only one case (if you’re lucky) will your contribution tip the scales and result in a different candidate being elected. I do not agree that spending your PAC money trying to alter the general makeup of Congress is likely to be effective.

    2. On the other hand, a single donor CAN get some recognition and access and (perhaps?) a slightly more favorable opinion from an individual politician by making a donation. I agree that the “quid pro quo” view is in most cases simplistic. But I definitely think that most companies give in order to influence (perhaps in subtle psychological ways) the people they are giving to, not because they think that their contributions are likely to alter the overall ideological makeup of Congress. How else do you explain that so many companies give large amounts to candidate both parties, sometimes even to candidates competing against each other in the same election?

  49. Adam Greenwood on October 13, 2005 at 10:55 am

    “Either act strengthens the company in some way.”

    This is only true if the politician changes his positions based on the donation. If he doesn’t, than we have two possible situations. In the first, the politician, even without the money, gets reelected anyway and votes for his positions anyway. So the sin companies get what they hoped for without it costing them anything. By refusing the donation the politician has actually helped the bottom line of the sin companies.

    In the second, the politician refuses the money and fails to get reelected or otherwise promote his own goals. In this scenario, refusing the money does hurt the sin companies. So what? The real question is whether the politicians goals are worth supporting or not. If they are, then it is a tragedy that he did not get reelected, etc., even though his goals might have also helped sin companies.

    The only reasons to refuse sin money are (1) because one recognizes that one has weak character in this regard and will start shading one’s views to make future donations more likely, or (2) to make a public point about sin companies being distasteful, but this last is a prudential kind of judgment that requires a kind of cost-benefit analysis.

  50. a random John on October 13, 2005 at 11:02 am

    Adam,

    Do you think that Senator Hatch really requires a cost-benefit analysis to determine if he could get elected without this money? He is in pretty much an ideal position. He knows he’ll get reelected so he can pick and choose what he’ll take using any criteria he wants. Why not avoid the appearance of evil? It seems like a no-brainer in this case.

  51. Adam Greenwood on October 13, 2005 at 11:09 am

    Senators don’t just use money for re-election. If their own re-election is sure than they try to promote their positions by funding other campaigns.

    As it happens, I think Senator Hatch’s time to step down has come. But this means that I’m not opposed to him taking donations per se, but to what he’s doing wth them. I still don’t see any inherent reason that a LDS politician couldn’t take sin money, though I don’t think they are obligated to, either.

  52. John Mansfield on October 13, 2005 at 11:13 am

    Donors aren’t buying votes; they’re paying to get someone to answer the phone when they call.

    A more obvious example showing that influence is bought is the way leading politicians move money from the PACs they control to lesser politicians’ campaigns. The bigshot achieves and maintains power by buying loyalty. On the other hand, it could be argued that fundraising ability is a valid test of a political leader.

  53. Mark Bigelow on October 13, 2005 at 11:16 am

    Speaking of sin money, if you are interested there is vicefund.com that should fit your needs. I guess someone took your idea, Gordon, and is smiling all the way to the bank.

  54. Seth Rogers on October 13, 2005 at 11:25 am

    The real benefit of a campaign contribution is not that it buys a politician’s vote.

    What it does is buy ACCESS to the politician. A nice donation makes a Senator more likely to give a company’s lobbyists 20 minutes of his time. During this time, the lobbyists can provide him/her with all sorts of studies, information and consequences of a piece of legislation.

    Of course, the lobbyists have to be careful how they do this. They can’t just blatantly ask him to ease off on tobacco, for instance. Instead, they provide facts and statistics about the economic situation of tobacco farmers, and how the law will affect small business owners’ sales, or whatever. The best lobbyists in DC give solid and reliable facts, statistics and figures and try to keep away from a biased looking presentation. Most politicians have a limited research staff and appreciate any free research they can get (even if it does have a spin).

    Of course, “if you torture the statistics long enough, they’ll confess.” This kind of practice still raises real concerns

    Still, I think the picture is a little more ambiguous than a couple of guys in a dimly lit room, plotting X-Files style.

  55. Ryan Bell on October 13, 2005 at 11:31 am

    Adam, #45 “This is why, if I were a candidate, I wouldn’t object to taking money from these sources. I’d figure they liked something I was for, and I’d feel comfortable that I was for it whether they donated to me or not.”

    Adam, let us assume you would not normally be inclined to meet with one of these industries’ lobbyists when he showed up unannounced. Now, assume that same industry, through that same lobbyist, had donated a very significant amount to your past reelection campaign, and you presently need money for your upcoming reelection campaign. Would that influence your willingness to meet with the lobbyist?

    While Nate makes some good points concerning the pragmatic complexity of the political money system, I don’t think anyone has rebutted the more philosophical moral arguments at play here. There are myriad reasons we should be uncomfortable with Senator Hatch’s acceptance of these donations:

    1. Regardless of how it affects his vote, it gives him the appearance of being connected with these industries. As a moral man who wishes to stand for moral things and give a good example, both to other Mormons, and as a Mormon to non-Mormons, shouldn’t he want to avoid such appearance?

    2. Regardless of how it affects actual votes in the Senate, is there any question that receiving this kind of money will soften one’s views toward the industry or the people in the industry that are giving the money? Doesn’t the constituency have an interest in the total package of the Senator’s views, and when the constituency elects a Senator for certain views, and those views evolve toward views that the constituency generally disapproves of, shouldn’t the constituency be concerned?

    3. Even if it’s okay for the Senator to accept some money from these interests, doesn’t he deserve some scrutiny when he is near the TOP of the lists of ALL THREE of these industries? Doesn’t that mean he has been targeted, for some reason, as a person who is extremely friendly to these interests, moreso than almost any other person in Congress? Would that kind of endorsement be morally troubling to you as one of this man’s constituents? Would that endorsement be troubling to you if it were you?

    4. Finally, no matter how you look at it, doesn’t this constitute a very significant personal gain from the sale of liquor, smokes, and gambling? Yes, I know, he’s not cashing these checks in his private account (he’s got enormous checks rolling in from his music for that — he’s so hot right now!), but can you really argue that these campaign donations don’t help him personally? *

    *Yes, I’m aware of all the line-drawing problems here. Eventually, any line is going to be illogical. But it’s also very illogical to assume that that is a good argument for not drawing a line at all.

  56. Steve Evans on October 13, 2005 at 11:33 am

    I’d agree with Adam & Nate that Hatch can legitimately take these funds without fear of a quid pro quo. That said: wouldn’t Hatch be better off as a latter-day saint to take the high road and decline to receive funds from these sources? Wouldn’t that send a nice, bright and clear message? Wouldn’t we all respect him more if he did so? The same could be said of Harry Reid.

  57. Steve Evans on October 13, 2005 at 11:34 am

    When Ryan Bell and I agree, the stars are in alignment. Beware!

  58. Jeremy on October 13, 2005 at 11:37 am

    As others here have suggested, I think the politicians should take the most money from those companies to whom they are least sympathetic on personal moral grounds and put that cash to better uses. Likewise, I think the guy in Mexico should have kept his job at the cigarette factory but become as unproductive an employee as possible without getting fired.

  59. Carl Youngblood on October 13, 2005 at 11:37 am

    Your Comment: Please, Utahns, vote for Steve Urquhart (steveu dot com) in the Republican primaries. If he loses, vote for Pete Ashdown (pashdown dot org). We can’t handle another term with Hatch in office. He is promoting legislation that causes our digital infrastructure to be further and further behind and allows a few large companies to hold onto intellectual property long after the death of the author(s). Thirty years ago copyrights were opt-in and they lasted for a few decades–now they are opt-out, there is no clear way to handle orphaned works, and copyrights are mostly held by corporations, not individuals. The system is no longer serving its original purpose, and Hatch is just making things worse.

  60. John Mansfield on October 13, 2005 at 11:37 am

    I don’t know, Brother Seth; ambiguity was sort of the defining characteristic of those X-Files guys in the dimly lit room. Lobbyists are more ambiguous then them? It must be awful sorting out the hidden meanings when one of them asks for a glass of water.

  61. Nate Oman on October 13, 2005 at 11:51 am

    Steve: I don’t think that I have claimed that Hatch can legitimately accept this money. I am ambivalent about this point. My argument is simply that it is extremely unlikely that this money is being used to buy influence with Hatch. The system is simply more complicated than that.

    Scott: Your argument doesn’t make sense. If single donations are not important enough to swing elections, why are they important enough to get a candidates individual attention. In any case, if your theory was correct we would expect to find evidence of contributions causing a shift in the voting patterns of politicians. As far as I know, there are no studies that show this to be the case in any sort of systematic way.

    I think that there is some truth to the money-buys-access argument, but I don’t think that it is nearly as strong as people think. When I was on the Hill what got you access was evidence that you represented a major constituency, preferably in Kentucky. Furthermore, I know of cases where donors who did not represent large constituencies were denied access.

    Perhaps there is some sort of deep pyschological influence occurring. The nice thing about asserting deep pyschological influence is that it is not emperically verifiable.

    Look, I think that the bottom line is that people support people that they agree with. Now it may be that this is a problem because people that I disagree with have more resources than I wish that they did, but this is a very different question than that of corruption.

    Hence, if there is some problem with Hatch taking booze money it has to do with complicity not corruption.

  62. Nate Oman on October 13, 2005 at 11:53 am

    Incidentally, it has been illegal for politicians to take campaign contributions from corporations for nigh on a hundred years in the United States. They are taking contributions from corporate PACs. These PACs are not funded with money from corporate treasuries but with donations from the personal funds of corporate executives.

  63. Adam Greenwood on October 13, 2005 at 11:59 am

    “is there any question that receiving this kind of money will soften one?s views toward the industry or the people in the industry that are giving the money?”

    There is. I could be confident accepting money from these groups because I know I would take their money and do exactly what I planned to do anyway. Others may not be so confident. But, as Nate O. points out, there simply isn’t evidence there that donations affect voting, so I’m skeptical that there’s much of a softening effect. I think Nate Oman’s probably right that donations follow the politician’s position and not vice versa. I know that’s my political donation pattern.

    Ryan Bell rightly points out that there are serious issues about being associated with evil that require prudential judgment and that are hard to set up any bright lines on.

  64. Jesse on October 13, 2005 at 12:20 pm

    Nate is correct about there being a fairly significant body of political science studies that have concluded that there is not a direct link between voting behavior and political donations. As others have pointed out, donations are made mostly to incumbents who have a demonstrable record, and are typically made to individuals who already support the causes of the donor, and it is about access to the staff or the member, in order to make your case. And if lobbyists don’t come in with a lot of quality information, just expecting to shake a hand and say “We donated at your last fundraiser,” they’re not going to get more than a meeting or two and will become a persona non grata in a hurry.

    That said, it is not quite that simple. There are cases, when, because of the economic realities in a given district, it really doesn’t matter which way a representative votes. For instance, there are not many in Utah who care that much about regulating the cod fishing industry. Under those circumstances a UT rep might say, “Hey, the cod fishermen gave me $2,000, so I’m going to vote with them, because they might give me $2,000 next year and I’m going to have a tough race and need the money.” The question is whether this is necessarily a bad thing. (And don’t laugh about the image of politically organized cod fishermen – there is an actual envelope manufacturers’ association, and a plywood and veneer association, and of course the peanut growers’ association).

    If you step back and think about it, trying to actually buy votes on a major piece of legislation, particularly one that has national salience, is a pretty darn hopeless enterprise. There are 435 House members and 100 Senators. You gotta get at least 60 Senators to get anything done. And the limits on individual and PAC funding mean that you’d have to be able to convince them to vote your way with a relatively small pile of cash, unless you and all of those members were willing to break the campaign finance law and risk fines, impeachment and jail time (a la James Trafficant).

    All that aside, it does seem rather strange that Hatch would accept monies from those industries. I can see it being possible that their agenda includes things like cutting tariffs, reducing crop subsidies, support for cutting the “death tax” that family farmers are sometimes subject to, or any number of other traditionally conservative things that would make sense for Hatch to support. But its alcohol and tobacco and there are plenty of other PACs out there that support these same causes and would be willing to give Hatch money, particularly because he’s got some good committee slots. Unless he’s being pressured by the party leadership to use his excess funds to donate to other Republican incumbents and candidates in less secure seats, it doesn’t make sense for him to be taking money from such sources when his own seat is so secure. And even if he is being pressured, you’d think he’d have some moral qualms about it.

    Incidentally, http://www.opensecrets.org is the best place to get easily accessible information on federal campaign donations. You can get a list of everybody and any organization giving $200 or more to any candidate, as well as a lot of specialized reports.

  65. Ryan Bell on October 13, 2005 at 12:36 pm

    Adam, I am making a point that is different from saying that votes are affected. I am saying that your position, as a person, might be different toward a person who represents the industry if that industry, through that person, gave you money.

    So I don’t think it’s going to make you suddenly like cigarrettes, or think they’re a good thing. But I’m guessing that most who would take the money from this guy would in the future be at least some small amount more likely to sit down with him, shoot the bull with him. This in itself is a triumph for that lobbyist, whose currency is his ability to get a little time with a bigwig. Regardless of whether you change your vote, you’ve softened just a little. It’s hard to say what the ultimate effect of that will be, but it puts up some red flags for me.

  66. Adam Greenwood on October 13, 2005 at 12:37 pm

    “It’s hard to say what the ultimate effect of that will be”

    Which is why I don’t see this as an insuperable objection. It does have some merit, however.

  67. a random John on October 13, 2005 at 12:41 pm

    Carl,

    Preach it, my Jr. Comp! Well, I would make one change, and that is to vote for Steve in the primary and then vote for Pete whether Steve wins the primary or not.

  68. a random John on October 13, 2005 at 12:46 pm

    This seems to be boiling down to an arguement between those that say, “Play it safe and avoid the appearance of evil,” and those that say, “Well, techinically, since you can’t prove causality, Hatch can do as he pleases.” I want to know why what I was taught in primary is so wrong in this case according to some of you. Did an angel appear to Hatch and tell him that Utah would dwindle in unbelief if he didn’t take this money?

  69. Jesse on October 13, 2005 at 12:47 pm

    Just took a quick look at http://www.opensecrets.org.

    The statistics reported in the original post are somewhat out of date, but probably accurate for when they were accessed. That said, they’re misleading. They represent donations only for a portion of the 2006 election cycle. The three industries, tobacco, alcoholic beverages, and gambling and casinos have not yet made all of the contributions that they will during the cycle. In fact, when you look at the 2006 totals, versus their totals for the 2004 cycle, they have given maybe a quarter or less thus far this cycle, as compared to the last, so the final tally on who they really want to focus on is not really in.

    When you at a list of the top Senate recipients from these industries in the 2004 cycle, (excluding all the House guys) Hatch doesn’t even make it into the top twenty for any of the three industries. So obviously, they don’t consider him that important. Sen. Reid, on the other hand, is in a different category. During the 2004 cycle, among Senators, he was the #1 recipient of gambling and casino donations, the #6 recipient for tobacco donations and the #11 recipient for the beer, wine and liquor industry.

  70. Adam Greenwood on October 13, 2005 at 1:03 pm

    “This seems to be boiling down to an arguement between those that say, ?Play it safe and avoid the appearance of evil,? and those that say, ?Well, techinically, since you can?t prove causality, Hatch can do as he pleases.? I want to know why what I was taught in primary is so wrong in this case according to some of you. Did an angel appear to Hatch and tell him that Utah would dwindle in unbelief if he didn?t take this money? ”

    Thanks for fairly characterizing our argument and generally raising the level of discourse with this one comment. A while back you complained that I didn’t sufficiently engage with you on the blog. I sent you a long response (that, ironically, you never responded to) but if that did not suffice this thread should. You are answered.

  71. Steve Evans on October 13, 2005 at 1:12 pm

    Nate: (no. 61) fair enough. I didn’t mean to put words in your mouth.

    Adam, is random John’s characterization really all that off-base?

  72. a random John on October 13, 2005 at 1:19 pm

    Adam,

    I have noticed that you have been much more interactive recently and have even commented on it to several people. I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you after your response. I’ll go back, re-read it, and provide you a detailed response.

    I’m sorry if you feel that I haven’t raised the level of discourse here. I think that you and others have a valid point in that you can’t prove causation. I am trying to figure out if that trumps the concept of avoiding the appearance of evil. I will admit that my comment was light-hearted. If such comments are not welcome here, please ban me.

  73. Adam Greenwood on October 13, 2005 at 1:23 pm

    Yep, Steve E. If I made some kind of causal accusation (i.e., that BCC took liberal positions just to keep its Sunstone or Dialogue or whatever alliance satisfied) and you pointed to evidence that there was no such causal connection, that, if anything, cause ran the other way (e.g, by arguing that BCC had taken the same sorts of positions well before these alliances were even possibilities), would you feel that you had made a technical argument about burdens of proof? Of course not.

    Update
    After I wrote this I re-read it and decided to delete the comment Steve E. quotes below, because it was unnecessarily rude. Unfortunately, Steve E. saw it in the meantime and responded. I apologize.

  74. Steve Evans on October 13, 2005 at 1:31 pm

    Adam: “I’m a little surprised I had to spell it our for you”

    um, yeah. Thanks for the elucidation as well as relevant and accurate examples! arJ’s point was quick and perhaps a little glib, but his summary is nonetheless worthwhile: people are either talking about avoiding the appearance of evil, or they’re addressing the political matrix and mechanisms of political contribution. Yes, he mischaracterized your complexity regarding causality, but you’ve ignored his overall point.

  75. Rosalynde on October 13, 2005 at 1:39 pm

    arJ wrote: “If such comments are not welcome here, please ban me. ”

    BAN HIM!!!

    (Wait, wrong blog…)

    Stick around, arJ.

  76. scott on October 13, 2005 at 1:46 pm

    “Scott: Your argument doesn’t make sense. If single donations are not important enough to swing elections, why are they important enough to get a candidates individual attention.”

    Nate. I don’t know how I can make it more clear. You’re a candidate. You frequently look over the list of 100 primary donors to your campaign. You know them by name and you sometimes have to hit them up for additional donations. These people and categories of people are often on your mind. But ONE donation (just like ONE vote) has a small probability of affecting an election. Donating (like voting) is irrational from a self interest point of view _unless_ it buys access (as you concede) or influence (as I believe).

    In any case, I agree that these effects are difficult to study empirically. Honest randomized controlled studies are probably impossible to set up. (You could have big tobacco randomly select one group of senators to donate lots of money to over the course of a decade and another group to ignore — and then see how the different senators behave at the end of that decade.) The sample size is just too small, and the cost of the experiment too great.

    On the other hand, the effects of advertising, trinket giveaways, etc. can be and have been thoroughly studied in other spheres — much is know about how they influence soft drink purchasing, drug prescription choices, voting behavior of individual citizens, etc. So it’s not too unreasonable to extrapolate and guess that senators are influenced in the same way that other human beings are. Difficult to prove, perhaps. But probably true.

    Anyway, the “you can’t PROVE that I did it BECAUSE I accepted the money” argument is as old as bribery itself. I’m frankly surprised to see that Nate keeps repeating it without (as far as I can tell) a trace of irony.

    Moreover, you can use the same arguments that appear on this post to argue that advertising should have no effect. “We all know what Coke and Pepsi taste like. Our preferences are our own. How ridiculous to suggest we’d switch soft drinks just because we see a pretty woman on a billboard. Humans can’t be ‘bought’ this easily.”

    Of course, the truth is, we can. We just usually don’t realize it when it happens.

    My feeling is that the tobacco industry probably understands how advertising works better than I do. If they think their PAC dollars are well spent, well, they probably are.

  77. a random John on October 13, 2005 at 1:51 pm

    Adam,

    Steve’s blog is affiliated with Dialogue. Some have even said that it is affiliated with Satan. Maybe that is true and your example would have some (not much) relevance if Steve’s values were directly opposed to those of Satan’s magazine, but he established a relationship with them anyhow. I’m sure that opinions vary on this subject, but I’m going to assume that the relationship was established because of some broad common interest. I think that a relationship was established is the point in both cases. Whether you look down on Steve’s relationship with Dialogue, the relationship of a particular politician with a particular interest group, or Microsoft with Satan is up to you.

  78. a random John on October 13, 2005 at 1:55 pm

    Rosalynde,

    I would gleefully accept bannination if you promised to do it BoH style.

    btw, your mother in law identified me as ‘a random John’ in a parking lot last night in about 10 seconds, having never met me before. She is some sort of blog savant.

  79. Rosalynde on October 13, 2005 at 2:01 pm

    Nope, not a blog savant, just an extremely competent administrator, keeping her eye on the problem kids…

  80. a random John on October 13, 2005 at 2:02 pm

    Good think my more troubling personalities are only lurkers…

  81. Tim J. on October 13, 2005 at 5:08 pm

    Wasn’t Marc Rich’s wife a big Clinton donor? No conflict of interest there.

  82. Jonathan Stone on October 13, 2005 at 6:07 pm

    I’m surprised that those complaining about the “appearance of evil” haven’t carried their argument to its logical extension. If you believe that accepting money from tabacco interests is wrong because it gives the appearance of being “bought” or at least improperly influenced by those interests, how can you not also argue that accepting money from any corporate interest, or for that matter, individual?

    After all, being bribed or improperly influenced (meaning influenced not by effective logic and reason, but by effective marketing or distortion) by a “sin” company significantly more unethical than by an oil company, or a pharmeceutical company, or a car company?

    Selling votes or influence for money is wrong, no matter who is paying. So if you believe accepting money from someone is selling votes or influence, then you should oppose Hatch accepting any contributions whatsoever. You’re just quibbling over the source of the payoff money.

    However, if taking money from individuals or a benign collective interest does not cause improper influence, then I can’t see how taking money from a tobacco company is.

  83. Jonathan Stone on October 13, 2005 at 6:11 pm

    That last post (#82) has some of the worst grammar, poorest spelling, and badly constructed sentences I have ever written. I must need more sleep. But don’t let my bad presentation distract from my confusing and convoluted argument.

  84. GeorgeD on October 13, 2005 at 7:27 pm

    So cars, and pharmaceuticals (and gasoline) are evil? So quit driving and taking medicine.

    I think its a long way from booze and gambling to driving a car. Don’t you?

    (If you see a similar post its because the folks who run this blog force me to post through a backdoor.)

  85. Jeremy on October 13, 2005 at 7:38 pm

    Selling votes or influence for money is wrong, no matter who is paying. So if you believe accepting money from someone is selling votes or influence, then you should oppose Hatch accepting any contributions whatsoever. You’re just quibbling over the source of the payoff money.

    Reminds me of the old quip about George Bernard Shaw in which he asks a woman if she would sleep with him for a million dollars. She says she probably would, for a million dollars. He then asks “Would you for five dollars?” “What do you think I am?!” the woman responds indignantly.

    “We’ve already determined what you are, ma’am,” Shaw replies, “now we’re just haggling over the price.”

  86. manaen on October 14, 2005 at 3:08 am

    The question of whether to take money from opposing parties has been around for a long time. Global finance gave us an example in mid-20th century.

    The Bank for International Settlements was created in 1930 to manage Germany’s WW I reparation payments. Its Board of Directors comprises lead bankers from the major economies. It expanded far beyond that role to support troubled currencies, including Austria’s and Germany’s (1930s), Italy’s and France’s (1960s), and Brazil and Mexico (1980s). Their recent report celebrates their 75th anniversary.

    Its charter, endorsed by the major nations, gave it immunity through armed conflict.
    During WW II, the bank continued to do business with all the major combatants and continued to pay dividends to the Allied and Axis banks. The multi-national Board and executive staff continued to meet and function through the war, crossing battle lines with “financial immunity.”

    The Bank facilitated the introduction into the world economy of gold pirated by the Nazis. Their trade with the enemy frequently was hidden and denied. One school of thought was that it was wrong to have banking relations with the Nazis. Another view, including many pragmatic Englishmen, held that as long as the bank collected more from the Nazis than they drew from it, that it was better to continue – ignoring the sources of those Nazi deposits.

    The BIS’s one-page history skips their WW II activities but many other narrations are available, including this one.

  87. Matt Evans on October 14, 2005 at 4:55 am

    Nate (Comment 43),

    I don’t know the particular restrictions placed on campaigns for the use of political contributions, but you imagine it’s illegal for campaigns to give money to charity? If that’s true we should change it. Thankfully it’s no doubt difficult for prosecutors to convince juries that diverting funds from attack ads to cancer research is grounds for jail time!

  88. Nate Oman on October 14, 2005 at 7:57 am

    Scott: A single donation does not have an impact on elections, however most PACs don’t make single donations. They make lots and lots of donations to lots and lots of candidates. The belief is that that aggregate impact of the donations will influence the course of elections in your favor. Look, if the effect of the donation on the outcome of the election is negligible and therefore the donation cannot be given to influence the course of elections, precisely the same calculus of electoral irrelevence should lead the candidate to be indifferent as to whether he receives it. Candidates like contributions because they help to win elections. PACs make contributions because they want to help win elections.

    You write: “Anyway, the ?you can?t PROVE that I did it BECAUSE I accepted the money? argument is as old as bribery itself. I?m frankly surprised to see that Nate keeps repeating it without (as far as I can tell) a trace of irony.”

    Look, I have worked in both politics and lobbying. This is simply not the way that the game is played. Those who think that this is the way that the game is played don’t make it very far at all. Rather, you play the game by finding people that agree with you, forming coalitions, and then supporting your friends. The notion that politicians are routinely bought off with campaign contributions is simply false. It is a myth. It is true that money has a big impact on who gets elected because it is very expensive to run a political campaign, but it is not true that politicians are routinely selling themselves for campaign cash. (This is not to deny that politicians routinely make compromises with their principles, but such compromises tend to take the more pedestrian form of legislative logrolling and pandering to local voters.) There are all sorts of problems with the way that we fund our political campaigns, but quid pro quo corruption is not one of them.

  89. diogenes on October 14, 2005 at 10:20 am

    Reminds me of the old quip about George Bernard Shaw in which he asks a woman if she would sleep with him for a million dollars.

    Pounds, old boy. Pounds. Sterling.

  90. Chance on October 14, 2005 at 10:38 am

    “I will be a president who happens to be Catholic, not a Catholic president”.

  91. scott on October 14, 2005 at 10:51 am

    “Look, I have worked in both politics and lobbying. This is simply not the way that the game is played. Those who think that this is the way that the game is played don’t make it very far at all. Rather, you play the game by finding people that agree with you, forming coalitions, and then supporting your friends.”

    Yes, this much I agree with. But the point I am making (which I think should not be too controversial) is that the process of forming those coalitions and maintaining those friendships (and frequently reminding certain politicians that, e.g., the Sierra Club is one of these very loyal, supportive friends) has INFLUENCE on the way those politicians vote.

    Let’s put the question differently. How effective do you think lobbying would be if all donations and other forms of support given by interest groups were required to be strictly anonymous?

    I argue that it would be MUCH less effective and far fewer groups would donate.

    By what I understood to be your original argument, this anonymity should not make much of a difference at all.

    But perhaps we are converging on agreement. By your latest description of the lobbying process (which I think I agree with), this anonymity should make a huge difference. Your say that what lobbyists to is to identify potential friends and to develop and maintain friendships with them by giving them money and support. Some people call this “buying influence.”

    As for the calculus: Suppose I have a very specific vote I care about, and I know that a priori candidate A has a 30 percent chance to vote my way and candidate B has an 70 percent chance of voting my way. Then let’s say I manage to arrange for $10,000 to be given candidate B, and that this gift increases candidate B’s probability of winning the election by one percent. Then there is only a .4 percent chance that my gift will actually swing the vote cast by the winning candidate.

    But wait. Let’s suppose that what actually happens is that I manage, through giving and support, to become one of candidate B’s hundred closest friends. Candidate B remembers me and is grateful for the contribution and has had time to consider the arguments for my side—so that now the probability that candidate B votes my way increases to 85 percent. If candidate B had about a 2/3 chance of winning the election a priori, then my gift now has a 10 percent chance of swinging the winning candidate’s vote my way.

    Clearly, 10 is bigger than .4, so the latter effect is far more significant in this scenario. An anonymous gift—which would achieve the former effect but not the latter—would be FAR less effective.

    On the other hand, if I had a way to make the candidate _think_ that I had donated money (without actually giving the money) then that would be almost as effective as actually giving the money.

  92. Jonathan Stone on October 14, 2005 at 11:47 am

    GeorgeD, #84:

    So cars, and pharmaceuticals (and gasoline) are evil? So quit driving and taking medicine.

    I think its a long way from booze and gambling to driving a car. Don’t you?

    My point isn’t that cars are evil or that booze isn’t. My point is that an automaker buying a vote is just as evil as a brewery buying a vote. If people think that the alcohol interests are buying undue influence with Hatch, shouldn’t they also believe that the automakers are, or the petroleum industry is, or that campaign contributor John Doe is? Any why is taking a bribe from an automaker any less evil than taking a bribe from a cigarette company?

    If you don’t believe that taking campaign contributions from an automaker buys improper influence with the senator, then why would contributions from gambling interests be any different?

    I just don’t understand why those who object to Hatch having the appearance of being bought by “sin” companies don’t seem to object to Hatch having the appearance of being bought by non-sin companies.

  93. Talon on October 14, 2005 at 1:01 pm

    “I think investing in, accepting money from, and working for these companies SHOULD go against our convictions as LDS saints even though they may not be inherently wrong.”

    One of my companions on my mission was from Virginia. His family were tobacco farmers.

    And what about all the farmers in Idaho growing malt barley for Budwieser? There is a huge Bud terminal just outside of Idaho Falls.

    Las Vegas is heavily populated with LDS. Your telling me none of them work in the gambling industry, directly or indirectly?

    The Church happily accepts tithing from members involved in all of these industries. If “dirty” money is good enough for the Church, its good enough for Hatch.

  94. Ryan Bell on October 14, 2005 at 1:17 pm

    Talon, come on, you’re way oversimplifying. Tithing money generated by sin businesses comes to the church as a donation from members who want to consecrate that money for the church’s interests. Campaign donations from sin industries come from businesses who feel that the donee is or will further the interests of the industry. Huge difference.

  95. a random John on October 14, 2005 at 2:33 pm

    Ryan,

    What do you think of the situation brewing in Mexico now in which Presidente Fox wants to stop drug lords from giving their ill-gotten gains to the Catholic Church? Both the church and the drug lords are rather upset, though it does put the church in an odd position.

  96. manaen on October 14, 2005 at 2:37 pm

    94
    Ryan, re: “Campaign donations from sin industries come from businesses who feel that the donee is or will further the interests of the industry.”

    If a certain politician is on record in favor of increasing investment tax credits and that triggers Budweiser’s self-interest to contribute to this politician’s reelection campaign, should this politician accept the money to help defeat an opposing candidate that proposes to eliminate ITCs?

  97. annegb on October 14, 2005 at 2:54 pm

    Although there are people in Utah who do not regard smoking and drinking as a sin. A vice, but not a sin.

  98. Eric James Stone on October 14, 2005 at 3:34 pm

    “If you can’t drink a lobbyist’s whiskey, take his money, sleep with his women and still vote against him in the morning, you don’t belong in politics.” — Jesse Unruh, California Politician

  99. Talon on October 14, 2005 at 4:40 pm

    “Campaign donations from sin industries come from businesses who feel that the donee is or will further the interests of the industry. Huge difference.”

    Donations from any source, individual or corporate, are given with the expectation that the donor will “get something for their money”. The implication here is that a) the donation is wrong because it comes from a corporate source, and b) the donation is wrong because it comes from “sin industries”. And yet no one has demonstrated support by Hatch for the products sold by said industries. He is pro-business, not pro-smoking/drinking, and that is why they donate.

    It seems hypocritical to say that if one donates as an individual and expects a politician to act a certain way that is ok. But if a corporation expects the same thing its an affront to democracy.

    Heaven forbid if Joe Leiberman receives money from the Hog ranchers lobby, or John Kerry receives money from condom manufacturers, scandalous!

    “Tithing money generated by sin businesses comes to the church as a donation from members who want to consecrate that money for the church’s interests.”

    I agree. However, I would suggest that there are some who do not agree with how their Tithing donation is ultimately used. Some may not like their funds used to fight court battles with the ACLU, or to support the Scouting program. That’s not my position, I give Tithing faithfully, with the expectation it will be used wisely, end of story. The point is, I have no control over how my funds are spent after I donate, and neither do “sin industries” when they donate to Sen Hatch, but they do expect him to spend the funds wisely to protect business interests in general, if not those of their particular industry.

  100. Soyde River on October 14, 2005 at 5:19 pm

    If a business is what we consider a “sin” business, is there anything that legislators could do that we would consider unfair or vindictive? Probably not, from our standpoint. But a disinterested observer might think so. Suppose that legislation was introduced to add a $10 tax to every fifth of liquor. We’d probably be delighted, but there are some reasonable arguments which could be made on the other side (increase of contraband, drunks going blind from drinking denatured alcohol, an unfair favoring of the beer and wine indistries, etc.)

    Perhaps the money that these companies donate is an attempt by them to try to ensure that legislators who might be expected to be against them, do not pass legislation that a disinterested observer might consider unfair or vindictive. I don’t have a problem with that.

  101. Seth Rogers on October 14, 2005 at 8:39 pm

    annegb,

    I don’t consider drinking and smoking a sin per se either and I’m a Mormon. It’s a sin for Mormons because we’ve been commanded not too, just like we’ve been commanded to pay tithing.

    There’s nothing inherently sinful in one of my non-member friends drinking responsibly. But there is a sin if I do it. I’m under the covenant. He isn’t.

  102. Randolph Finder on October 14, 2005 at 10:28 pm

    Re: #99

    Joe Leiberman taking money from hog farmers isn’t something that is going to bother him at all. All the laws in Leviticus are instructions to the Jews, *not* to the world at large. I even know of a Jewish hog farmer in Israel, never tasted his own product though.

    Randy

  103. Tim J. on October 15, 2005 at 12:29 am

    Let me ask a few hypothetical questions to those who see no wrong in the acceptance of these donations:

    If you opened up a restaraunt, would you serve alcohol? Alcohol sales makes up the largest percentage of any restaurant’s sales.

    Do you have any problem with a Mormon business owner forcing his employees to work on Sundays, so he can take it off in order to obey the Sabbath? One rule of management is never asking your subordinates to do somethng you are not willing to do yourself.

    Do you have any problem with Marriott Inc. being one of the largest profiters of p0rnography? I remember telling a friend that the founder was lds. He responded by asking me why then were there were bars in the lobbies and p0rn in the rooms. “Well…um…er…”)

    If I am in newspaper advertising (which I am) is there no problem soliciting advertising from Budweiser, Planned Parenthood, Harrah’s Casino, etc.? This is something I am currently struggling with.

    Is it wrong for a Pharmacist (my wife, for example) to dispense the Morning After Pill, even though she is not obligated by law to do so?

  104. annegb on October 15, 2005 at 3:40 am

    Wow, Tim, hard questions. I didn’t know that about Marriott. What are they thinking?

    This makes me think of the kid from Russia who, when I told him my Russian professor said she had to join the Communist party to get a job, said of his parents, “they didn’t join the party. It was hard, sure, but they got through it, and they came out clean.”

    If our candidates didn’t take this money, how would it affect who would win the election, do you suppose? Does Bob Bennett take this money? Did the Mathesons? Did Mike Leavitt? Does Mitt Romney?

  105. Seth Rogers on October 15, 2005 at 10:42 am

    Tim J.

    My answer would depend on which of those activities our church considers “sins for everyone” and which are merely “sins for those under covenant.”

    For example, hypothetically speaking, I would not necessarily have a problem with a business owned by a Mormon selling alcohol. I would, of course, have to make it a matter of prayer (personal revelation would trump here).

    The same holds for the morning-after pill. But that’s simply because I don’t consider the morning after pill to be a real moral problem (and I don’t equate it with abortion). You can certainly disagree with me there.

    I disagree with the Mariott Hotel’s practice of providing porn. This, for me, is an example of a sin that is universal regardless of covenants. Marriott ought to discontinue this practice and build its reputation on more worthy traits such as excellent service and value.

    The newspaper issue is a bit more thought provoking. The alcohol advertising I’m not so concerned with for reasons I’ve already stated. As for Planned Parenthood … I’d probably exclude them (although I’d like to know more about all they do …). The casinos are similar to alcohol for me.

    Regarding the casinos and alcohol however, I can definitely see good reasons to exclude them. One might simply conclude that the real evils connected to both practices are simply too predominant and consistent to support the industries in good conscience.

  106. Jonathan Stone on October 15, 2005 at 11:12 am

    Tim J. –

    I’ll take a stab at your questions.

    If I owned a restaurant, I would not serve alcohol. However, I would not refuse to work at a restaurant that served alcohol. If I were a waiter, and somebody ordered wine, I wouldn’t refuse to serve it to them. But I probably wouldn’t take a job as a bartender. I know that probably carries with it some contradictions, but that’s where I would draw the line. It also highlights the difficulty in drawing bright line tests.

    If I were a business owner, I would not force my employees to work on the sabbath (presuming I am running a non-sabbath-critical business, like a restaurant). However, if I am not the owner (say I’m the manager), I would get Sundays off as much as possible, but I would not quit my job because I was managing people who had to work on Sundays. Also, I would not refuse to be a part-owner (stockholder) of a company that forced Sunday work.

    I would prefer it if Marriott were not profiting from p0rnography. In fact, I would prefer it if no hotel or business were profiting from it. However, Marriott is not privately held, nor does the Marriott family hold a controlling interest. A Marriott is CEO, but I don’t know what the decision process was to introduct p0rn. I don’t know if he objected or not. Is it something he should quit over? I’m not sure there’s any clear answers. Just remember, Marriott is more like the restaurant manager, not the restaurant owner.

    As for newspaper advertising, if I owned the business, I would not accept advertising from the companies you mention. Advertising directly contributes to demand for their product and directly furthers their business. However, if they wanted to run a public service ad, like “Support our troops”, I wouldn’t object just because they were a beer company. If I don’t own the paper, then I would do the job I am given. Similar to the restaurant example, if only some of my accounts were with sin companies, I probably wouldn’t quit. If I was put in charge of the sin accounts exclusively, I probably would.

    These examples are different from political contributions in a key way, however. In each of these, the individual accepting money from the sin business is in return providing a service that directly contributes to a sinful act in a specific way (setting aside the question of whether it is a sin for nonmembers to drink). Facilitating the sale of alcohol, forcing work on Sunday, providing p0rn to travelers, advertising a sin product–all of these are direct and specific assistance of a pro-sin activity. However, a campaign contribution does not directly contribute to the sin. No service is provided in exchange. At worst, what is purchases is access, but that is access to argue with and provide information to the senator which he can consider in making his decisions. And almost certainly it is to influence him on general pro-business kinds of legislation, not specific pro-sin legislation. And if the benefit isn’t specific and direct, then it is not necessarily wrong. Freedom of speech benefits sin companies, but that doesn’t mean Hatch would be wrong to support freedom of speech.

  107. Talon on October 15, 2005 at 4:09 pm

    “Joe Leiberman taking money from hog farmers isn’t something that is going to bother him at all. All the laws in Leviticus are instructions to the Jews, *not* to the world at large”

    I don’t understand your argument, Leiberman is Jewish isn’t he? But it’s your position that the Law of Moses was Jew specific, while modern revelation and the D & C are world specific?

    “I don’t consider drinking and smoking a sin per se either and I’m a Mormon. It’s a sin for Mormons because we’ve been commanded not too, just like we’ve been commanded to pay tithing.
    There’s nothing inherently sinful in one of my non-member friends drinking responsibly. But there is a sin if I do it. I’m under the covenant. He isn’t.”

    What Seth said.

    “Marriott is not privately held, nor does the Marriott family hold a controlling interest. A Marriott is CEO, but I don’t know what the decision process was to introduct p0rn. I don’t know if he objected or not. Is it something he should quit over? I’m not sure there’s any clear answers. Just remember, Marriott is more like the restaurant manager, not the restaurant owner.”

    What Jonathan said. Marriott’s obligation is to the shareholders of the company, nothing else. It is illegal for his obligations to be elsewhere. That being said, enough public pressure (boycotts, etc.) may provide the leverage needed to get Marriott Hotels to stop offering this kind of entertainment.

    An interesting article here: http://www.insightmag.com/media/paper441/news/2001/01/08/CoverStory/Porn-500-210808.shtml

    Some of the points made:
    - Many of the conservative owners of Marriott DO oppose offering p0rn
    - Omni hotels abandoned the practice, but is a private hotel chain and the decision was made by the owner
    - The companies that actually provide the movies in the rooms (ie the company the hotels receive the feed from) sell the service as a package, making if difficult to purchase only the part of the package you want to offer your clients

  108. Randolph Finder on October 16, 2005 at 2:06 am

    107: Nope it isn’t I’m Jewish. Just letting you know what Leiberman is likely to feel (given current jewish thought.)

    I would *love* to see a list of what the LDS church considers only wrong for those in the covenant and what is wrong for everyone.

  109. Seth Rogers on October 16, 2005 at 11:19 am

    RE 108: I don’t think the “Church” has ever spelled it out officially. I was only expressing my own opinions.

    However, I would wager that most of the “covenant specific” sins have to do with failures to perform practices unique to the LDS faith such as: payment of tithing; the Word of Wisdom (coffee, tea, tobacco, alcohol); temple attendence; weekly church attendance on Sunday; fasting; etc.

    The Word of Wisdom is a bit tricky though because consumption of alcohol has a few very real sins associated with it when we’re talking about addiction.

  110. Talon on October 17, 2005 at 1:16 pm

    “Just letting you know what Leiberman is likely to feel (given current jewish thought.)

    I would *love* to see a list of what the LDS church considers only wrong for those in the covenant and what is wrong for everyone.”

    Yes, that would be interesting.

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