By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: September 15, 2022 ~
The nonpartisan watchdog group, Accountable.US, has released the results of an investigation into how committed to democracy the 100 largest corporations in America are. The corporations were graded on support for voting rights, the electoral process, and American democracy. The results were provided in an interactive resource called the American Democracy Scorecard.
Researchers looked at 14 key criteria. Seven elements of the criteria involved making pro-democracy statements, being affiliated with pro-democracy organizations, and taking other pro-democracy actions. Seven other criteria involved corporate contributions to elected officials who are undermining democracy and voting rights.
Three of the largest mega banks on Wall Street, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo, flunked the democracy test, each receiving a score of “F.” Goldman Sachs received a “D.” Bank of America and Citigroup received a “B” grade, but, clearly, that was based on very recent history.
Both Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch brokerage unit and Citigroup (along with most other major Wall Street firms) have compelled their workers for decades to relinquish the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Bill of Rights – the right to a jury trial – and agree to bring all legal disputes into Wall Street’s private justice system called “mandatory arbitration” as a condition of getting a job at the company. To put it simply, Wall Street, for decades, has been forcing its workers to forego a constitutional right in order to receive a paycheck. (See here and here.) For this reason alone, these Wall Street corporations should have flunked the democracy test.
According to the research conducted by Accountable.US, one of the things pushing five-count felon JPMorgan Chase into flunking the democracy test was that it had contributed $127,500 to members of Congress who have opposed federal voting rights protections.
Wall Street On Parade also took a look at where the Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, has contributed campaign funds during the current campaign cycle. Among the few political donations made by Dimon personally in the current election cycle, two right-wing Republicans received his largesse.
The incumbent Republican candidate for the Senate from South Carolina, Tim Scott, received a total of $5800 from Dimon (the maximum $2900 for the primary and $2900 for the general election) according to Federal Election Commission records. Less surprising, Dimon donated $5800 to incumbent Republican House Rep from North Carolina, Patrick McHenry. (McHenry is hoping to become the Chair of the House Financial Services Committee if the Republicans take the House in the November midterms. Dimon can use a friend on that Committee since it has been calling him and other Wall Street mega bank CEOs to testify annually since last year. Dimon’s next appearance before the Committee will be next Wednesday, September 21.)
Senator Tim Scott’s history is particularly pernicious. According to a report in Politico on April 21, 2011, Scott introduced a legislative measure that would deny food stamps to families who had a family member engaging in a union strike. On May 25, 2017, Scott was one of 22 senators to sign a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. That just happened to coincide with a demand from the Koch Industries front group, Freedom Partners, to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. Six days after Scott signed that letter, Trump revoked the U.S. agreement to be part of the Paris Climate accord, subjecting the United States to the ridicule of our closest allies.
In January of 2021, after Trump had spent months promoting the Big Lie that the presidential election had been stolen from him, Scott released a statement saying that he would not join those contesting the election of President Biden, but would fully support Trump’s efforts to challenge the results in court proceedings. He also said this:
“I am grateful for all of the work President Trump has done for the people of this country, and I was proud to work with him on tax reform, regulatory reform, Opportunity Zones, school choice, improving our justice system and many other consequential issues. As I have said multiple times over the past four years, the lives of the American people have been bettered by what has been accomplished in the Trump Administration.”
A majority of Americans apparently do not agree with Scott’s assessment. On August 31, Quinnipiac University released a poll which asked the question: “Do you think the nation’s democracy is in danger of collapse, or don’t you think so?” The vast majority of respondents, 67 percent, answered “yes.” Only 29 percent said “no.”
Since 2017, Goldman Sachs has been Scott’s third largest political donor while JPMorgan Chase ranked 11th, according to OpenSecrets.org. Koch Industries, the privately-owned fossil fuels conglomerate that has turned election-interference into an art form for the past 40 years under its Chairman and CEO, Charles Koch, (the 17th richest billionaire in the world) was Scott’s 20th largest donor, but that hardly captures the full picture.
Koch Industries did not make the American Democracy Scorecard because it is privately owned. If it had, it would have warranted a flunking grade of “Z.”
This is a sampling of how Charles Koch and/or Koch Industries have undermined U.S. democracy. (By the way, if you want to stop financing the undermining of American democracy, stop buying the products made by Koch Industries and its subsidiaries: Dixie disposable paper plates, bowls and cups; its Northern Quilted and Angel Soft bath tissue; its Brawny and Sparkle paper towels; and its Vanity Fair and Mardi Gras table napkins.)
The Koch network meets secretly with big political donors twice a year to plot a coordinated strategy to put their chosen people in public office;
Charles Koch met at his private club with sitting Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who then ruled on key legislation that benefited his interests;
Koch money funded an organization that then sluiced money to the wife of Supreme Court Justice Thomas, Ginni Thomas;
Koch Industries’ i360 runs a highly sophisticated voter registration database, data mining and get-out-the-vote operation, in order to pack Congress with people who will pursue an antiregulatory corporate agenda and derail climate change legislation;
Koch Industries installed dozens of its operatives into the highest offices of the federal government under the Trump administration;
Koch Industries runs a sprawling, opaque trading operation that could potentially be raising the prices of the fossil fuel products it sells via the futures market;
Koch Industries continued to operate major factories in Russia, ignoring sanctions and a murderous regime waging an unprovoked war on Ukraine, until a pressure campaign forced it to say it would look for an exit strategy;
Koch money funded a sprawling network of taxpayer-subsidized front groups to deny climate change and foment hate;
Koch money provided funding to groups involved in sending a mob to attack the seat of government of its own home country on January 6;
Koch money funds groups that use dark money and propaganda to put lifetime justices on the highest court to pass legislation friendly to the fossil fuels conglomerate.
Just how far has democracy fallen in America under Koch’s vision for corporate domination? Accountable.US also made the following findings in its American Democracy Scorecard:
- 45 percent of companies supported the Big Lie that the presidential election was stolen on the state level;
- 61 percent of companies supported the Big Lie on the national level;
- Of the 50 companies that made pledges to pause or suspend contributions to 2020 presidential election objectors in Congress, 33 of them later contributed to these same election objectors.
Clearly, every American needs to reacquaint themselves with the concept that “Democracy Is Not a Spectator Sport.” Every U.S. citizen needs to take this threat to our democracy seriously and become an engaged advocate for the restoration of our democracy – starting with the repeal of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that allowed unlimited amounts of corporate cash to corrupt the political process; and ending with legislation to re-open the nation’s courts to all Americans seeking redress, while at the same time striking down Wall Street’ private justice system that keeps its darkest secrets safe from the sunlight of a public courtroom.