Winning political friends with corporate money | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Winning political friends with corporate money

Posted By on Thu, Mar 3, 2011 at 6:20 AM

Interesting article with Arkansas relevance in today's New York Times on how corporations, limited in the amount of money they can give to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, have poured money into his wife's foundation.The foundation supports schools and Mrs. Jindal receives no pay. But good cause or no, ethics advocates note the important issues that the likes of oil companies have with the governor and the appearance that his goodwill might be encouraged by aid to his wife's cause.

ARKANSAS ANGLES

CHARITABLE CAUSE: Rep. Tracy Steele
  • CHARITABLE CAUSE: Rep. Tracy Steele
One Arkansas angle is that Walmart is a contributor to Mrs. Jindal's foundation. The Arkansas-based discount giant is involved in numerous Louisiana legislative issues, from prescription drug plans to its opposition to a bill that would have required people with government subsidies for groceries to buy only healthy food.

Another is that soliciting contributions to tax-deductible charities is not unheard of in Arkansas. Rep. Tracy Steele, as I've reported before, was paid $77,000 in 2009 as executive director of the Stand Foundation, which is said to be devoted to leadership programs. (The group's tax form said he worked 55 hours a week at that job, which must be hard during the legislative session.) The tax form doesn't require that he disclose individual contributors to the foundation. Corporate representatives who lobby the legislature have said previously he's sought their support in past years. The foundation raised almost $156,000 in contributions and grants in 2009, almost half of which went right back into Steele's pocket. The list of givers might be interesting.

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