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Tallying Up Returns on Corporations' Political Investments


Amount that the 200 most politically active corporations in the U.S. spent on federal lobbying and campaign contributions between 2007 and 2012, according to a new report from the Sunlight Foundation titled "Fixed Fortunes": $5.8 billion

In return, amount they got in federal business and support: $4.4 trillion

For every dollar spent influencing politics, amount these corporations received from the federal government, on average: $760

Total value of federal government-issued contracts to purchase goods and services during that period: more than $3 trillion

Portion of those contracts that went to these most politically active corporations: 1/3

Rank of finance, insurance and real estate among the sectors that accounted for most of the 200 corporate political powerhouses: 1

Total amount in loans and other assistance issued under a program created by Congress to address the 2008 financial crisis: $410 billion

Percent of that which went to just 16 of these politically influential companies: 73

Number of foreign financial service and banking firms that were among the companies that received the biggest returns on their political investments: 3*

Amount that North Carolina-based Bank of America spent on campaign contributions and lobbying during the period studied: $45.2 million


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Value of federal business and support it got in return: $476.2 billion

Amount that Georgia-based utility giant Southern Co. spent on campaign contributions and lobbying: $86.2 million

Value of federal business and support it got in return: $597.6 million

Southern Co.'s effective tax rate: 11%

Amount that North Carolina-based utility giant Duke Energy spent on contributions and lobbying: $36 million

Value of federal business and support it got: $229.7 million

Duke Energy's effective tax rate: 3%

Portion of Americans who believe corporations should have to pay more in taxes: 2/3

Percent of Americans who trust the federal government: 19

* UBS and Credit Suisse Group of Switzerland and Deutsche Bank of Germany.

(The figures in this index are all from "Fixed Fortunes: Biggest corporate political interests spend billions, get trillions" by Bill Allison and Sarah Harkins of the Sunlight Foundation.)

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Sue Sturgis

Sue Sturgis

Sue Sturgis is the Director and regular contributor to the Institute for Southern Study's online magazine, Facing South, with a focus on energy and environmental issues. Sue is the author or co-author of five Institute reports, including Faith in the Gulf (Aug/Sept 2008), Hurricane Katrina and the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (January 2008) and Blueprint for Gulf Renewal (Aug/Sept 2007). Sue holds a Masters in Journalism from New York University.

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