Money in politics and corresponding government corruption affect all Americans. Relatively recent court decisions — including the infamous Citizens United case — have left the door wide open for money to make its way from the private sector to our nation’s legislators and policy makers.
This has left many Americans crying foul, seeing as how all that money can buy influence and make some politicians rich at the expense of everyone else. Also, there are concerns the money is leading to more business-friendly laws and tax policies and even tearing away at social safety nets and protective legislation.
But is that the truth? Does money from these interest groups making its way to our elected representatives actually constitute a form of corruption, eroding our democracy? According to Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig, it doesn’t really matter. As long as people think it leads to corruption, the effect of money from interest groups funneling to Congress is creating issues either way. It’s hard to deny lobbying has become an integral part of the political deal-making and legislative system. It has also become one huge way big business gets what it wants.
Special interest groups and government corruption
For businesses, lobbying is now more of a form of investment than anything. And as with any investment, those ponying up the cash expect a return. That return can manifest itself in a number of ways, from more favorable regulatory standards to lucrative government contracts. While many businesses and business groups may donate to a political candidate or take a stand on a given issue, there are a select handful that really ramped up their efforts in recent years.
Which special interest groups outspend the others? Using data from The Center For Responsive Politics, we’ve compiled a list of the 20 biggest business and interest groups that are spending the most influencing the political system. If money leads to corruption, this is whom you should point the finger at.