image: eric cantor thomas jefferson bust

Cantor quietly acknowledges failing to report ALEC gift

In February, Common Cause wrote to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, asking for an explanation about an apparently unreported $1,350 gift from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in 2009. Cantor’s office immediately responded, claiming our inquiry was without foundation, but last week his office quietly amended his financial disclosures to include the gift from ALEC.

At that time, I wrote about Cantor’s failure to disclose:

‘ALEC, the so-called “free market, small government” lobby group underwritten by some of the nation’s largest corporations, reported in its tax filings for 2008 and 2009, making “cash grants” to the recipients of several annual awards. Common Cause has identified 22 legislators who received ALEC awards in those two years, including Rep. Cantor, who ALEC records indicate received $1,350 in 2009 as part of their Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award.’

Cantor responded within hours, saying no cash changed hands, but that he received a bust of Thomas Jefferson from ALEC, pictured above. But, under House Ethics Rules this type of award can only be received by a Member of Congress if it is disclosed, which Cantor did not do. This appears to be a clear ethics violation, and we have asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate. Prompted by Common Cause, Cantor has now very quietly amended his 2009 Financial Disclosure Report to include the ALEC gift. He also amended his 2010 report to include another bust given to him by the Associated Builders and Contractors trade group. We had no idea about this second award, but now we do.

Cantor’s relationship with ALEC really does matter. They are a highly prominent lobby group, with a clear and unambiguous agenda to advance their corporate funder’s interests, which includes advocating for Congressional action. So they actively seek the ear of leading politicians like Cantor, hoping that he will go to bat for them (and their corporate clients) in Congress. Of course Cantor knows why ALEC courts him, and although I am positive he would say he listens to all sides before making policy decisions, ultimately only an informed electorate can decide how much influence ALEC has on elected officials—which is why these public disclosures are so important!

So what about ALEC’s role in this? They too responded to our questions, saying they were just complying with IRS requirements to report the cash value of a plaque or a bust. “Nothing to see here…” But this response raises more questions, of which here are just two:

1. Why didn’t ALEC disclose to the IRS the value of their awards prior to 2007, and why did they report no awards for 2010? ALEC has been handing out decorative (and apparently highly-valuable) busts and other awards to legislators for decades, including to former Vice-President Dick Cheney in 2003 and to former PresidentGeorge Bush in 2005.ALEC only began reporting these awards to the IRS in 2007, before abruptly stopping again for their 2010 IRS tax filing. Texas Gov. Rick Perry received an identical Jefferson bust in 2010, but this was not recorded in the tax filings. This makes little sense, and should be explained to the IRS.

2. Why did ALEC report a non-cash award as “cash”? ALEC has still not explained why they reported these awards as cash, but perhaps their error shouldn’t come as too big a surprise. In July 2011, Common Cause wrote to the IRS, asking for an investigation of ALEC for failing to report extensive lobbying on behalf of their corporate funders, and for operating for private interests. The government (we the people) allows 501c3 nonprofits to operate tax free, and for donors to receive a tax deduction, precisely because they are operating in our interest. Can anyone really say that is true for ALEC?

»Follow Common Cause’s ongoing work on ALEC to learn more about corporations writing legislation.

 

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About Nick Surgey

Nick Surgey is staff counsel at Common Cause. Follow him on Twitter @NickSurgeyCC.

45 Responses to “Cantor quietly acknowledges failing to report ALEC gift”

  1. But corporations are people my friend…

    Seriously that’s most likely one of the responses you’ll see to this, I completely agree that ALEC has overstepped all rational bounds though.

    Will be interesting to see who agrees.

    • I agree with you, these people are no better than drug dealers they should all go to jail where they will be washing underwears for somebody and showing them a good time when the light go off.

  2. But corporations are people my friend…

    Seriously that’s most likely one of the responses you’ll see to this, I completely agree that ALEC has overstepped all rational bounds though.

    Will be interesting to see who agrees.

    • I agree with you, these people are no better than drug dealers they should all go to jail where they will be washing underwears for somebody and showing them a good time when the light go off.

  3. But corporations are people my friend…

    Seriously that’s most likely one of the responses you’ll see to this, I completely agree that ALEC has overstepped all rational bounds though.

    Will be interesting to see who agrees.

    • I agree with you, these people are no better than drug dealers they should all go to jail where they will be washing underwears for somebody and showing them a good time when the light go off.

  4. Can’t we just quietly send him to a quiet cell somewhere in a quiet prison? /spit cantor

  5. Can’t we just quietly send him to a quiet cell somewhere in a quiet prison? /spit cantor

  6. Can’t we just quietly send him to a quiet cell somewhere in a quiet prison? /spit cantor

  7. LOL! $1,350????? What about the MILLIONS $$$ Obama gets from Soros, Michael Moore, labor unions, tax supported ‘green energy’ businesses like Solyndra (who failed and can’t remember what happened to the millions received from taxpayers), etc., etc.??????

    • So, because Democrats too have faults, you’re comfortable with all this?

      I feel sorry for anyone who is content with “my party good; their party bad.”

      As Ralph Nader so eloquently put it during the 2000 presidential campaign, “The only difference between the major-party candidates [Bush & Gore] is the respective speed with which their knees hit the floor when their corporate bosses come calling.”

    • What millions? Your evidence please? You mean money donated to PACs legalized by the Bush Supreme Corporate Court? Or the Solyndra deal, started in 2007 by the Bush administration, who attempted to rush it through before he left office but ran out of time?
      A pathetic, weak attempt Cristina.

    • Koch brothers. Dick Armey. Julian Robertson Jr. ($1.3 million to Romney). Sheldon & Miriam Adelson ($10 million to Newt’s Super PAC). Foster Freiss ($1 million to Santorum’s super PAC). Etc., etc., etc.

  8. LOL! $1,350????? What about the MILLIONS $$$ Obama gets from Soros, Michael Moore, labor unions, tax supported ‘green energy’ businesses like Solyndra (who failed and can’t remember what happened to the millions received from taxpayers), etc., etc.??????

    • So, because Democrats too have faults, you’re comfortable with all this?

      I feel sorry for anyone who is content with “my party good; their party bad.”

      As Ralph Nader so eloquently put it during the 2000 presidential campaign, “The only difference between the major-party candidates [Bush & Gore] is the respective speed with which their knees hit the floor when their corporate bosses come calling.”

    • What millions? Your evidence please? You mean money donated to PACs legalized by the Bush Supreme Corporate Court? Or the Solyndra deal, started in 2007 by the Bush administration, who attempted to rush it through before he left office but ran out of time?
      A pathetic, weak attempt Cristina.

    • Koch brothers. Dick Armey. Julian Robertson Jr. ($1.3 million to Romney). Sheldon & Miriam Adelson ($10 million to Newt’s Super PAC). Foster Freiss ($1 million to Santorum’s super PAC). Etc., etc., etc.

  9. LOL! $1,350????? What about the MILLIONS $$$ Obama gets from Soros, Michael Moore, labor unions, tax supported ‘green energy’ businesses like Solyndra (who failed and can’t remember what happened to the millions received from taxpayers), etc., etc.??????

    • So, because Democrats too have faults, you’re comfortable with all this?

      I feel sorry for anyone who is content with “my party good; their party bad.”

      As Ralph Nader so eloquently put it during the 2000 presidential campaign, “The only difference between the major-party candidates [Bush & Gore] is the respective speed with which their knees hit the floor when their corporate bosses come calling.”

    • What millions? Your evidence please? You mean money donated to PACs legalized by the Bush Supreme Corporate Court? Or the Solyndra deal, started in 2007 by the Bush administration, who attempted to rush it through before he left office but ran out of time?
      A pathetic, weak attempt Cristina.

    • Koch brothers. Dick Armey. Julian Robertson Jr. ($1.3 million to Romney). Sheldon & Miriam Adelson ($10 million to Newt’s Super PAC). Foster Freiss ($1 million to Santorum’s super PAC). Etc., etc., etc.

  10. ACTUALLY HE NEED FIRING HIM.

  11. ACTUALLY HE NEED FIRING HIM.

  12. ACTUALLY HE NEED FIRING HIM.

  13. ALEC and Cantor are two peas of the same pod. Both exist to corrupt and use government access to unfairly advantage large pooled financial interests at the expense of the common citizen. Exposing them or what they are is always a good thing.

  14. ALEC and Cantor are two peas of the same pod. Both exist to corrupt and use government access to unfairly advantage large pooled financial interests at the expense of the common citizen. Exposing them or what they are is always a good thing.

  15. ALEC and Cantor are two peas of the same pod. Both exist to corrupt and use government access to unfairly advantage large pooled financial interests at the expense of the common citizen. Exposing them or what they are is always a good thing.

  16. I can’t seem to understand that it’s alright for the republicans to do what ever in the f they want to, or could i be wrong to say that the republicans are the only ones free in America? To do as they wish and the rest of us has to abide by their laws? Yes a jail cell should be the next home for the vast majority of the Republicans in Congress, and especially the republicans who are running for any governmental job in America, they have their fingers in everything illeagal and we have idiots who up-hold the bull thats is spewed to cover it up. Yes they need prison boyfriends so they can explain why they hate the mid-class/ the poor/ the elderly, and why they can’t live on what they force the rest of us to live on, or are they just greedy {Bastards]like Dylan Ratigan said!!!

  17. I can’t seem to understand that it’s alright for the republicans to do what ever in the f they want to, or could i be wrong to say that the republicans are the only ones free in America? To do as they wish and the rest of us has to abide by their laws? Yes a jail cell should be the next home for the vast majority of the Republicans in Congress, and especially the republicans who are running for any governmental job in America, they have their fingers in everything illeagal and we have idiots who up-hold the bull thats is spewed to cover it up. Yes they need prison boyfriends so they can explain why they hate the mid-class/ the poor/ the elderly, and why they can’t live on what they force the rest of us to live on, or are they just greedy {Bastards]like Dylan Ratigan said!!!

  18. I can’t seem to understand that it’s alright for the republicans to do what ever in the f they want to, or could i be wrong to say that the republicans are the only ones free in America? To do as they wish and the rest of us has to abide by their laws? Yes a jail cell should be the next home for the vast majority of the Republicans in Congress, and especially the republicans who are running for any governmental job in America, they have their fingers in everything illeagal and we have idiots who up-hold the bull thats is spewed to cover it up. Yes they need prison boyfriends so they can explain why they hate the mid-class/ the poor/ the elderly, and why they can’t live on what they force the rest of us to live on, or are they just greedy {Bastards]like Dylan Ratigan said!!!

  19. Yes:Eric Cantor who’s head done got big and think he can just bully ppl into what he want.Like do what i say or else.He came off like a bully.Anytime he got mouthy wit the President,and got away with it.I hope he gets whats coming to him.He has no Class anyway.They need to get all them out the house.vote’em all out-The republicans that is.At least the Dem’s try to help the ppl.Those jerks(GOP) only care about themselves.I hope they Never get back in office&i can name a few.sicknin.

  20. Yes:Eric Cantor who’s head done got big and think he can just bully ppl into what he want.Like do what i say or else.He came off like a bully.Anytime he got mouthy wit the President,and got away with it.I hope he gets whats coming to him.He has no Class anyway.They need to get all them out the house.vote’em all out-The republicans that is.At least the Dem’s try to help the ppl.Those jerks(GOP) only care about themselves.I hope they Never get back in office&i can name a few.sicknin.

  21. Yes:Eric Cantor who’s head done got big and think he can just bully ppl into what he want.Like do what i say or else.He came off like a bully.Anytime he got mouthy wit the President,and got away with it.I hope he gets whats coming to him.He has no Class anyway.They need to get all them out the house.vote’em all out-The republicans that is.At least the Dem’s try to help the ppl.Those jerks(GOP) only care about themselves.I hope they Never get back in office&i can name a few.sicknin.

  22. The gop got onto office in 2010 with lies & big $$. Rove & the Koch Bros. are dropping tons of money on negative ads in MA for Scott Brown’s campaign against Elizabeth Warren. With one super pac ad last Oct., Rove took Warren’s 10 point lead down and she’s 9 points behind the bought & paid for Brown.
    The ad promoted Warren as a Wall St backer & charmer of bankers when she is indeed the person Wall St & the Bankers fear the most!!!

  23. The gop got onto office in 2010 with lies & big $$. Rove & the Koch Bros. are dropping tons of money on negative ads in MA for Scott Brown’s campaign against Elizabeth Warren. With one super pac ad last Oct., Rove took Warren’s 10 point lead down and she’s 9 points behind the bought & paid for Brown.
    The ad promoted Warren as a Wall St backer & charmer of bankers when she is indeed the person Wall St & the Bankers fear the most!!!

  24. The gop got onto office in 2010 with lies & big $$. Rove & the Koch Bros. are dropping tons of money on negative ads in MA for Scott Brown’s campaign against Elizabeth Warren. With one super pac ad last Oct., Rove took Warren’s 10 point lead down and she’s 9 points behind the bought & paid for Brown.
    The ad promoted Warren as a Wall St backer & charmer of bankers when she is indeed the person Wall St & the Bankers fear the most!!!

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  1. A Completely Unofficial Blog About Eric Cantor » Cantor Quietly Acknowledges Failing to Report ALEC Gift - March 23, 2012

    [...] –by Nick Surgey of Common Cause; originally posted on CommonBlog. [...]

  2. A Completely Unofficial Blog About Eric Cantor » Cantor Quietly Acknowledges Failing to Report ALEC Gift - March 23, 2012

    [...] –by Nick Surgey of Common Cause; originally posted on CommonBlog. [...]

  3. A Completely Unofficial Blog About Eric Cantor » Cantor Quietly Acknowledges Failing to Report ALEC Gift - March 23, 2012

    [...] –by Nick Surgey of Common Cause; originally posted on CommonBlog. [...]