- Since the Citizens United decision, companies have been able to donate millions of unregulated dollars to political causes as a form of protected free speech.
- Behind many of the largest corporate contributions are influential CEOs on the left and the right, such as Sheldon Adelson and Tom Steyer, who hope that in exchange Congress will work to push their political agendas.
- Here are 10 companies that are influencing politics by donating huge amounts of money to political groups in 2018.
However, the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision declared that spending money on political causes qualified as free speech protected by the First Amendment. The decision opened the door for unlimited political expenditures by corporations and unions (provided that they weren’t giving money to campaigns directly).
Campaign contributions directly to political candidates are limited for individuals and companies alike. But since 2010, companies can pour millions of unregulated and uncapped “soft money” into independent Super Political Action Committees (PACs) to influence the outcomes of federal elections without contributing to an individual candidate.
Unlike regular PACs, which can only accept contributions of up to $5,000 from individuals and nothing from unions and corporations, Super PACs can accept “dark money” from donors that shield their identities through shell corporations and political nonprofits who don’t have to reveal their donors.
Open Secrets has compiled a list of the largest organizational political contributors to Democratic and Republican or liberal and conservative outside groups. (We’ve excluded unions and nonprofits, which are also on the list.) The totals include political donations by employees of the companies, their PACs, and their treasuries.
Here are the top 10 corporate contributors so far in the 2018 election cycle.
Las Vegas Sands
When you combine the money contributed by Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands casino (almost $28 million) and the nonprofit Adelson Clinic for Drug Abuse Treatment and Research ($27 million) run by his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, their $55.7 million in campaign contributions for the 2018 cycle alone makes the Adelson family one of the biggest political donors.
According to Bloomberg, Sheldon Adelson has contributed over $200 million to conservative candidates and causes in recent years.
The Uline Corporation, run by Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein, sells office supplies through a thick catalog, the print version of which includes conservative political commentary from Elizabeth Uihlein, according to Politico.
Uline has donated $31.7 million so far in 2018, more than it spent for the 2016 cycle, according to Open Secrets. The vast majority of that money went to Republicans. Their soft money donations have soared since the Citizens United decision in 2010.
Fahr LLC is a privately owned company that manages the wealth of Tom Steyer, former hedge fund manager and current political activist. According to Open Secrets, Fahr LLC has donated $29.4 million to the current election cycle so far, and that may be just the beginning, since the corporation’s 2016 contributions topped $90 million.
Steyer is the driving force behind Need to Impeach, an organization and super PAC trying to get Trump out of office. CNN reported that he has pledged to spend at least $30 million on Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives in 2018, as well as $40 million toward impeachment.
Paloma Partners is an investment company founded by S. Donald Sussman, who has quietly contributed millions to Democrats and the PACs that support them. Open Secrets reports that Paloma Partners has donated more than $23 million so far in 2018. In 2016, the contribution was close to $42 million.
Soros Fund Management
With $14 million in political donations so far in 2018 and $28.7 million in the 2016 election year, private hedge fund Soros Fund Management isn’t the biggest political donor on the left, but you could be forgiven for thinking it was.
Outspoken George Soros has become a boogeyman to many on the right — he is the target of several conspiracy theories. For example, despite persistent rumors, Snopes confirms that Soros did not pay people to attend the 2018 March for Our Lives.
James Simons, whom Forbes listed as the second highest-earning hedge fund manager in 2018, is president of the private hedge fund company Euclidean Capital. Euclidean Capital has given $9.5 million in campaign contributions to Democratic causes so far in 2018.
Renaissance Technologies, also founded by James Simons (he is still involved with the company, though he has retired), contributed $9.5 million in 2018, split between both political parties. In 2016, the hedge fund donated $59 million, giving slightly more to Democrats than Republicans.
They have also contributed to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which promoted laws limiting lawsuits from people with terminal illness as a result of asbestos. Koch Industries own Georgia Pacific, which has been subject to these lawsuits.
Through nonprofit Americans for Prosperity (which also donates millions to further Republican causes), the Koch brothers have organized to defeat transit projects in several cities, according to the New York Times. (Government-funded transit contradicts the brothers’ free-market, small-government views, and they also profit from people using cars.)
Investment company Blackstone Group has contributed almost $7.4 million in the 2018 election cycle and gave almost $9.5 million in 2016. The company’s donors gave more to Democrats in 2016, but favor Republicans so far this year.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.