• Was It Legal For Boeing To Pull Contributions From Lawmakers Opposing Ex-Im?

    The Export-Import Bank lost its authority to issue new financing last month, and with it some Republicans lost financing of their own.

    Ex-Im’s number one beneficiary, Boeing, and General Electric, another company that receives large sums of money from the bank, cut off all political contributions to Republican lawmakers who opposed the bank’s re-authorization, POLITICO reports.

    So far during the election cycle, Boeing and GE combined have not donated to more than a dozen lawmakers who they also donated to in 2014, and one of GE’s political action committees cut off donations to an additional 17 Ex-Im opponents.

    The ostentatious pulling of financial support as a direct result of a particular legislative decision has raised eyebrows in the beltway.

    “Usually they keep it pretty general,” Timothy Carney, an economics and policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “To get so specific as to say we’re only supporting politicians that support the Ex-Im bank would be pretty unusual.”

    In 1991, the Supreme Court ruled that a campaign contribution could be a bribe if it is proven to be a quid pro quo, meaning that the contribution was “made in return for an explicit promise or undertaking by the official to perform or not to perform an official act.”

    In other words, it is a law against offering anything of value in exchange for a policy decision.

    “It would be illegal for them to say we’ll give you money if you vote for the export import bank,” said Carney.

    While illegal, Carney said it is actually relatively common for businesses and Political Action Committees to donate to lawmakers based on certain issues, though they usually take a broader view.

    Still, he questioned the donation pull-out.

    “To have a make or break vote like that is out of the ordinary for a PAC,” he said.

    According to POLITICO, Boeing spent $13.2 million to lobby lawmakers in the first half of 2015, more than a $5 million increase over last year. GE also spent $13.2 million on lobbying this year, almost $7 million more than the same time last year.

    The lack of political contributions this year has led some to question the motivation behind the companies giving.(RELATED: Vote-Conscious Republicans Declare Opposition To Ex-Im)

    “Boeing and GE’s decisions to ‘cut off’ political contributions to lawmakers who took a stand against the Ex-Im Bank is a textbook demonstration of the cronyism those lawmakers are fighting,” Andy Koenig, a senior policy adviser at Freedom Partners said in a statement.

    A Boeing spokesman defended the company’s donation irregularities, though, by telling POLITICO that decisions are not based on one issue.

    “Decisions are made based on a variety of issues and policies,” he said.

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