Coca-Cola, NEA, Others Fail to Disclose Obama Donations

By: Byron Tau

(Politico) Many of the unions and corporations that underwrote President Barack Obama’s inauguration — including Microsoft, the Coca-Cola Company, and Visa — failed to properly document their contributions, according to a new analysis.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal watchdog group, found in a new report shared first with POLITICO that dozens of organizations failed to disclose their contributions on their most recent disclosure forms.

Organizations who also spend money on lobbying must file disclosure reports to the Senate and the House, detailing their political contributions over $200. But 42 of the 62 contributions by organizations that are both registered to lobby and donated to the inauguration went undisclosed on those forms, the report found.
Microsoft, for example, failed to list contributions totaling more than $2 million on their most recent disclosure, including more than $500,000 in in-kind contributions for equipment and technical services. Another major donor to the festivities, Chevron, did not list their $1 million donation on their report.

Other corporations that failed to list their contributions to the inauguration include Coca-Cola, Visa, TracFone Wireless, and Aflac. Unions like the National Education Association, the International Association of Fire Fighters, United Food and Commercial Workers and the American Postal Workers Union. Trade associations on the list include the American Hospital Association, the Biotechnology Industry Organization and the Community Financial Services Association. Law firms with lobbying shops like Capitol Counsel, Greenberg Traurig, and others also did not disclose their contributions, according to CREW.

Obama’s Presidential Inaugural Committee filed a report earlier this year with the Federal Election Commission listing all the contributors to the 2013 inauguration celebrations, as required by federal law; CREW’s report compared that filing with the congressional disclosure lists. POLITICO independently confirmed the lack of disclosures using the same records.

“What it says is that companies are not careful about reporting the contribution as the law requires,’ CREW executive director Melanie Sloan told POLITICO. “We can’t know if it’s deliberate — because these people all have highly paid counsel and lobbying affairs staff — or if it’s just carelessness. But it doesn’t look good.”

Campaign finance experts say that there’s no ambiguity about the disclosure law: organizations registered to lobby need to document their political spending on their semi-annual disclosure forms, called the LD-203. That includes donations to the inaugural celebrations.

“If it was a contribution to the Presidential Inaugural Committee, that’s reportable on your LD-203,” said Robert Kelner, an lobbying law expert and attorney with Covington & Burling.

Read more: http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=DEB5B82E-6950-4120-B056-673F2932BDBB

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