Businesses are people too 

I’ve posted before about the controversy surrounding contributions by retail giant Target to a group called MN Forward which, in turn, is supporting the bid of Republican candidate Tom Emmer for Governor of Minnesota. The contributions were unique in that they were allowed by the recent Citizens United vs. FEC ruling from the Supreme Court which vacated federal prohibitions on political speech funded by businesses.

The left is, I believe, attempting to make an example out of Target with a furious response intended to scare off other business interests from jumping into the political fray.  But in addition to that, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, the Taxpayers League of Minnesota and a travel company are all joining forces to mount a legal challenge to Minnesota’s specific prohibitions on direct contributions from businesses to candidates.

The state’s attorney general, Lori Swanson, is promising to fight that challenge saying direct support for politicians from businesses “would drown out the voices of average citizens.”

Which brings me to the point of my post: Aren’t businesses people too? Why don’t businesses enjoy the same rights to engage in political activity that individuals do?

Take labor unions. We can all agree that union members have a right to organize, and that the resulting organizations have a right to engage in political activity on behalf of their voluntary membership. I’d note that in many areas of this country union membership isn’t all that voluntary (see: non-right to work states), but that’s a subject for another time. The point is that unions can engage in political activity.

And engage they do. I don’t think I need to remind you readers of the hundreds millions unions shower on the political process from local unions directly supporting local candidates to national unions directly supporting national candidates. Heck, just about any national liberal interest/advocacy group can think of gets at least some of its money or other sorts of support from unions. From ACORN to to Organizing for America, etc. Most local special interest groups are the same way.

So if unions can do all this, why not businesses too? After all, is a business not another sort of voluntary organization? Do businesses not represent the interests of those that own them? Those that invest in them? Those that work for them? Those that are served by them? If a labor unions can engage in all manner of political activity, why not businesses too?

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Rob Port

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