The Rise of the DLC
by Chris Bowers, Mon Jan 24, 2005 at 11:04:57 AM EST
The DLC's investment in Clinton paid off, of course, after the 1992 election. Not only did the DLC bask in its status as idea factory and influence broker for the White House, but it also reaped immediate financial rewards. One month after the election, Clinton headlined a fundraising dinner for the DLC that drew 2,200 to Washington's Union Station, where tables went for $15,000 apiece. Corporate officials and lobbyists were lined up to meet the new White House occupant, including 139 trade associations, law firms, and companies who kicked in more than $2 million, for a total of $3.3 million raised in a single evening. The DLC-PPI's revenues climbed steadily upward, reaching $5 million in 1996 and, according to its most recent available tax returns, $6.3 million for 1999. "Our revenues for 2000 will probably end up around $7.2 million," says Chuck Alston, the DLC's executive director.
While the DLC will not formally disclose its sources of contributions and dues, the full array of its corporate supporters is contained in the program from its annual fall dinner last October, a gala salute to Lieberman that was held at the National Building Museum in Washington. Five tiers of donors are evident: the Board of Advisers, the Policy Roundtable, the Executive Council, the Board of Trustees, and an ad hoc group called the Event Committee--and companies are placed in each tier depending on the size of their check. For $5,000, 180 companies, lobbying firms, and individuals found themselves on the DLC's board of advisers, including British Petroleum, Boeing, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Coca-Cola, Dell, Eli Lilly, Federal Express, Glaxo Wellcome, Intel, Motorola, U.S. Tobacco, Union Carbide, and Xerox, along with trade associations ranging from the American Association of Health Plans to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. For $10,000, another 85 corporations signed on as the DLC's policy roundtable, including AOL, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Citigroup, Dow, GE, IBM, Oracle, UBS PacifiCare, PaineWebber, Pfizer, Pharmacia and Upjohn, and TRW.
And for $25,000, 28 giant companies found their way onto the DLC's executive council, including Aetna, AT&T, American Airlines, AIG, BellSouth, Chevron, DuPont, Enron, IBM, Merck and Company, Microsoft, Philip Morris, Texaco, and Verizon Communications. Few, if any, of these corporations would be seen as leaning Democratic, of course, but here and there are some real surprises. One member of the DLC's executive council is none other than Koch Industries, the privately held, Kansas-based oil company whose namesake family members are avatars of the far right, having helped to found archconservative institutions like the Cato Institute and Citizens for a Sound Economy. Not only that, but two Koch executives, Richard Fink and Robert P. Hall III, are listed as members of the board of trustees and the event committee, respectively--meaning that they gave significantly more than $25,000.Clearly, any organization that raises money like this is not going to be very popular among the netroots. However, I do think that we should at least understand an organization before we attack it. To learn about the history of the New Democratic movement would make us all the wiser.