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Fatcat political donations hit record levels

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November 26, 2007

The volume of political donations from industries and interest groups is gushing to new records even before the first 2008 primaries are held, and Democrats are pocketing most of it.

The biggest wave comes from the securities and investment industries, which have increased their giving 91 percent over 2004, giving a whopping $50 million already. Of that, Democrats have gotten 61 percent.

Lawyers and law firms have spent $76 million so far, a jump of 52 percent from 2004, with Democrats scoring 77 percent of this cash.

Republicans have been the beneficiaries of most of an 88 percent hike in giving by “leadership public action committees,” which are formed by politicians to help other candidates. But while they have collected 63 percent of the bucks from this source, the total contributed — just $9.6 million — is paltry in comparison.


Now it’s the Internal Revenue Service’s turn to get audited, and the agency doesn’t score well when it comes to financial management. In a recent report the U.S. Government Accountability Office depicted the IRS as using such obsolete management systems that “it is unable to routinely obtain comprehensive, timely, accurate and useful information for day-to-day decision-making.”

The GAO also blasted the IRS for information-security problems and for failing to release tax liens in a timely fashion.


Spanish-language media companies and Latino groups have launched a campaign to mobilize millions of U.S. Hispanics to vote in next year’s elections. Called “Ya es Hora! Ve y Vota!”(“It’s Time; Go Vote”), the coast-to-coast effort will feature national TV, radio and newspaper ad campaigns, grass-roots organizing, public-affairs programming, hot lines and a Web site, www.veyvota.org.

The push by Univision Communications, Entravision Communications, the National Council of La Raza and others will target Latino voters in Arizona, California, Florida, New Mexico, New York and Texas.


A new concept being researched at the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s laboratory: Outfitting an explosives-sniffing dog with a vest bearing sensors, a radio, speakers, digital transmitter devices and video cameras. Such a canine could be sent into a subway system after a bomb attack to assess the damage, detect the presence of toxic gas and convey the condition of survivors while limiting the risk to human first-responders.


Hollywood is heading to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., where the movie “Bring Me Men” will be filmed. It’s the story of the first co-ed class of cadets, who entered the academy in 1976, and the “guts and determination” the female cadets displayed, according to SummitWorks(cq) Films, which is producing the movie.

What’s not part of the script is the “guts and determination” female cadets in 2003 no doubt needed during a sexual-assault scandal that rocked the school when accounts of the widespread sexual predation against women students, and the commanders’ disinterest, were revealed.

The filmmakers said that the scandal happened long after the era they are chronicling, and thus was not included.

(E-mail Lisa Hoffman at hoffmanl(at)shns.com.)