Federal Politics

Published — July 13, 2011 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

FBI investigation may make Murdoch political beneficiaries skittish

Introduction

The growing controversy about alleged illegal hacking by employees of News Corp. has laid bare the company’s broad influence on British politics writ large. Over the past three decades, though, Rupert Murdoch and his media empire have been plenty active on this side of the pond, including a cool $1 million contribution to the Republican Governors Association last year.

And now the scope of that influence is starting to stir the political pot in Washington. In the wake of the scandal and a blossoming FBI investigation, some critics are already calling on lawmakers who have received money from the company’s corporate PAC and its chairman and CEO to return it. And others are demanding that Congress and the Obama administration investigate whether News Corp. employees have engaged in similar kinds of hacking stateside.

Over the last almost quarter century, News Corp. has made a lot of friends on both sides of the aisle. Murdoch, naturalized in 1985, made his first major federal donations in 1987 — beginning his political donations with a pair of $1,000 checks to a Democrat, then-Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas, chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. This would prove an anomaly, however, as over $300,000 of the more than $490,000 in contributions he’s personally made since have gone to Republicans and GOP committees, according to a Center for Public Integrity iWatch News analysis of campaign finance data.

His favorite recipients have included the National Republican Senatorial Committee (at least $76,000), the Republican National Committee (over $55,000), former U.S. Senator and current presidential hopeful Rick Santorum (over $10,000), and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (at least $9,300). Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been his favorite Democrat, with at least $6,500 in donations to her U.S. Senate campaigns. According to campaign finance data from the Center for Responsive Politics, Santorum also received at least $5,000 from News America’s corporate political action committee, while McConnell received more than $13,000 from the company’s PAC.

The corporate PAC, officially News America Holdings Inc-FOX Political Action Committee, has been a bit more balanced in its giving: its more than $1.2 million to candidates since the 1998 cycle have favored Republicans by about 51-49 percent. The five top beneficiaries of PAC donations were Reps. Edward Markey (a Massachusetts Democrat who has chaired the House Committee overseeing telecommunications, at least $30,000); Howard Berman (a California Democrat, at least $26,000), James Sensenbrenner (an Wisconsin Republican, at least $22,500), and Xavier Becerra and Mary Bono Mack (a California Democrat and California Republican, respectively, each with at least $20,500).

However, the façade of political equality was smashed by $1 million in corporate contributions each to the Republican Governors Association and the Chamber of Commerce in 2010. Murdoch defended the contributions — neither of which are subject to federal campaign limits — as “in the interest of our shareholders and the country.”

Beyond its political giving, News Corp. and News America have spent large sums on influencing federal policy through Washington lobbying. According to lobbying disclosure records, the company paid at least $215,000 in the first quarter of 2011 to five federal lobbying firms to advance its corporate interests. These included David Leach, Quinn Gillespie & Associates, and the Fritts Group, the Cormac Group, and the Glover Park Group.

It is not unusual for large media corporations to employ lobbying firms and to distribute large corporate PAC contributions. NBC Universal, CBS Corporation, and the Washington Post Company all reported 2011 lobbying.

Markey said in an email, “There is a serious inquiry that is under way, and I look forward to the results of this inquiry.” While noting that campaign contributors do “not receive any special treatment,” the veteran Massachusetts Democrat said he would closely monitor the developments as they unfold and make decisions about whether to return the News America PAC funds “as information becomes available.”

A State Department spokesman told iWatch News it would not be appropriate for the department to comment on Secretary Clinton’s previous political campaigns.

News Corp., Reps. Becerra, Berman, Bono Mack, and Sensenbrenner, Sens. McConnell and Santorum, the RNC, and the NRSC did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

On Tuesday, Democratic Sen. John Rockefeller of West Virginia, who chairs the Senate’s commerce committee, called on U.S. agencies to investigate any News Corp. employee’s hacking of American victims of terrorism. New York Republican Rep. Peter King, New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, and New Jersey Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg have also called for U.S. investigations. The non-partisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has called on Congress to initiate a similar investigation.

Reporters Peter Stone and Ben Wieder contributed to this report.

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

jan v
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jan v

all the lobbyists are running all our government agencies and all the career civil servants who know how to run the country have been fired. YOU think this is a good thing ? what a crock…

thomas alessi
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thomas alessi

I am for Trump

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT

David
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David

Are you on some kind of drugs? Writing in caps makes me think that you are grumpy old fart or a uneducated hillbilly.