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GM halts political funding

Thursday, February 5, 2009

GM halts political funding

Automaker’s political action committee is replenishing accounts with worker donations.

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — General Motors Corp. has temporarily halted donations from its political action committee as it shores up its accounts.

"As we have done in previous years following an active election cycle, we are holding off on making contributions in the first quarter as we replenish employee contributions," GM spokesman Greg Martin said Wednesday. But this is the first halt in donations by GM in at least six years. In the first three months of the 2004 election cycle, GM donated $171,580. In 2006, the Detroit automaker donated $121,500 to federal candidates in the first quarter.

GM, like the other automakers, has cut its salaried ranks by thousands of workers, losing many donors to its political action committee.

Companies solicit voluntary donations from employees to donate to political candidates, often by payroll deductions.

Also, GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC all shifted their political donations to more Democrats in the 2008 election cycle in the aftermath of the 2006 Democratic takeover of Congress.

According to the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics, GM spent about $900,000 in the 2007-2008 election cycle, donating $467,508 to federal candidates. Of that, 51 percent went to Democrats and 49 percent to Republicans. In the 2006 cycle, GM spent nearly $1.2 million, donating $626,330 to federal candidates, with 74 percent of the federal contributions going to Republicans.

Ford spent $803,819, including $349,619 to federal candidates in the 2007-2008 cycle. Of the total, 51 percent went to Democrats and 49 percent to Republicans.

In the 2005-2006 cycle, Ford spent $845,030, donating $316,900 to federal candidates. Of that total, 77 percent went to Republicans.

Chrysler, which was an arm of Daimler until August 2007, spent $893,924 in the 2008 election cycle, allocating 51 percent of its $354,100 in federal donations to Republicans and 49 percent to Democrats.

In the 2006 cycle, DaimlerChrysler AG spent $883,099, with $407,090 on federal races and 65 percent going to Republicans.

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