It's fascinating, how supporting Republicans is always the corporate factory setting. No matter how Democrats woo them, no matter how many shiny legislative trinkets they pass to make them happy, Big Business always returns to their true love:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) was a fierce critic of the federal bailout of General Motors and Chrysler last year, saying he could not "ask the American taxpayer to subsidize failure."
But GM doesn't seem to hold a grudge.
The political action committee formed by the company, which is now largely owned by taxpayers, cut McConnell a $5,000 campaign check in September, a small piece of the $190,000 it donated to campaigns in the past month.
Although GM suspended its contributions while it solicited the government for financial help, it is now back in the game of political giving, increasing donations from its federal PAC steadily over the past few months.
It is not alone: Companies that received federal bailout money, including some that still owe money to the government, are giving to political candidates with vigor. Among companies with PACs, the 23 that received $1 billion or more in federal money through the Troubled Assets Relief Program gave a total of $1.4 million to candidates in September, up from $466,000 the month before.
Most of those donations are going to Republican candidates, although the TARP program was approved primarily with Democratic support. President Obama expanded it to cover GM and other automakers.
Greg Martin, a GM spokesman, said that the company's PAC donations come from voluntary contributions from its employees. "We contribute to candidates who thoughtfully approach issues that are important to the auto industry and manufacturing," he said. "If you look at our giving, we have given equally to both parties' leadership."
Some of the generosity to Republicans can be explained by the expectation that the party will make huge gains in Congress. But another factor is the Democratic Party's push for financial-regulation legislation this year. The new law, which passed the Senate with the votes of three Republicans and all but one Democrat, placed new curbs on banks and introduced a regulator to vet financial products for consumers. Most Republicans, and banks, say the law creates too many new restrictions.
Scott Talbott, a lobbyist with the Financial Services Roundtable, said another factor could be the tone some Democrats used against financial firms. At one point, Obama called Wall Street executives "fat cats."
"The entire industry was painted with a broad brush, and there was dissatisfaction with that," Talbott said.
[...] One company that used TARP funds to invest in toxic assets from other banks is getting into the political giving mode for the first time. In March, the investment fund BlackRock created a federal PAC only a few months after the company used $2 billion in government money to invest in those assets. Its newly formed PAC has cut campaign checks to federal lawmakers including Rep. Barney Frank (D.-Mass.), the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.
The two top recipients of money from companies receiving TARP funds are the top two House Republicans, Minority Leader John A. Boehner (Ohio) with $200,000 and Republican Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) with $187,000. They are followed by the ranking members of two key House committees, Spencer Bachus (Ala.) on financial services and Dave Camp (Mich.) on the tax-writing committee.