A few days back, I blogged about how immigration reform is supposedly going to be a wedge issue for the GOP because evangelicals and business types support it. I took issue with a statement by Bill Hammond, the president of the Texas Association of Business, who claimed that this is an issue on which they would “cross swords” with their “traditional friends” by noting that nothing in Hammond and TAB’s campaign contribution history supported such a claim. Think Progress, riffing off of a post by John Coby, provides further evidence of this. They looked at the signers of a DMN op-ed that called on Congress to “pass realistic immigration reform” and wrote the following:
However, despite calling on Congress to “pass realistic immigration reform,” many of those wealthy Texas businessmen have donated thousands of dollars to a party that hasn’t only blocked any chance of comprehensive immigration reform, it’s also actively working to pass anti-immigrant, restrictionist policies that will make it even harder for them to do business. In all fairness, many of the businessmen donated funds to pro-immigrant Democrats as well — however those donations paled in comparison. Instead, many of them helped get several Republican candidates get elected and continue supporting the GOP throughout 2010, despite it’s swing to the far right on immigration.
Bob Perry of Perry Homes tops the list with $134,600 in the year 2010 alone. Over $65,000 of Perry’s money went directly to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), which presumably provides strategic support to Republican senators who have done nothing but stall and obstruct Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) efforts to propose and enact comprehensive immigration reform. An additional thousand dollars went to Sen. David Vitter’s (R-LA) campaign, despite the fact that he recently tried to block federal funding of the Justice Department’s lawsuit against SB-1070 and “led the assault” on immigration reform in 2007.
Similarly, Billy Joe “Red” McCombs, founder of the Red McCombs Automotive Group and co-founder of Clear Channel Communications has donated a total of $10,000 to the NRSC. However, McCombs most shocking contribution was to immigration zealot Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX). Woody Hunt of Hunt Construction has donated $60,800 to the NRSC this year as of April 2010. Hunt also donated almost $10,000 to Sen. Orrin Hatch(R-UT) who recently accused President Obama of “pandering to Hispanics” by “pretending” he’s going to do something about immigration. Bob Barnes, chief executive of Schlotzsky’s restaurant chain, donated $15,000 to the NRSC in March 2010 and an additional $15,000 to Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who has firmly refused to work with Democrats on immigration reform.
Cornyn has since gone even further to the right on immigration by supporting a “review” of the 14th Amendment. (Good thing he wasn’t around back in 1868.) I doubt he’ll lose a dime from any of his current backers over that. Hell, I doubt he’ll ever be publicly criticized by any of them.
I’m not claiming that these business interests should now throw all their money at Democrats. They have other reasons for supporting Republicans. They like having their taxes cut, and they like having their regulations rolled back. Sure, they’d also like to see comprehensive immigration reform, but not as much as those things. So they overlook the utter intransigence of the Republicans that they support on this, and on many other issues they give lip service to, and instead write op-eds and make meaningless statements about “crossing swords” and hope people think that will have an effect. Maybe if the Perrys and the Beecherls and the McCombses and the Hammonds used the access they have to Republican leaders to forcefully communicate their distress over all this hurtful, counterproductive nonsense, and called them out in public and by name when they obstruct and oppose the policy goals they claim to support, I might give them some credibility. But they don’t do that – can’t take a chance on jeopardizing those future tax cuts, you know – so I see no reason to take them seriously.