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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Insurance Giant Hides Shady Donations To Anti-Obama Groups

Insurance Giant Hides Shady Donations To Anti-Obama Groups

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent a letter today asking Mark T. Bertolini — chairman, CEO, and president of health insurance giant Aetna — to stop using Aetna’s corporate funds to influence elections.

Aetna has contributed more than $3.3 million to the American Action Network (AAN), a 501(c)(4) group headed by former Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN.) Although it is supposedly a “social welfare” organization, AAN spent over 66% of its budget in 2010 on political advertising against Democratic candidates across the country. This is a clear violation of AAN’s tax status, and of the Federal Election Campaign Act which states that groups whose “major purpose” is the nomination or election of federal candidates must register as political committees.

Aetna also contributed nearly $4.5 million in 2011 to the conservative powerhouse, the Chamber of Commerce. Combined with its AAN spending, this means that Aetna quietly spent over $7 million last year to try and influence elections. According to CREW, the contributions were only publicly disclosed due to an apparent filing error (which was quickly reversed in a failed attempt to hide them from public view.)

Notably, both AAN and the Chamber of Commerce have been vocal opponents of President Obama’s health care reform bill.

“Aetna wants to get rid of its political opponents without being held accountable by its shareholders or customers for funding vicious attack ads,” CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a press release. “If Aetna intends to use corporate funds to sway the elections in 2012, Mr. Bertolini should come clean and stop hiding behind AAN’s skirt.”

Ironically, Bertolini recently stressed at an Aetna shareholder’s meeting that although the company “actively participates in the political process at all levels of government…transparency and accountability are important.”

As Sloan wrote in her letter to Bertolini, Aetna’s shady political spending undermines any claims of concern about transparency and accountability:

Aetna, which is supported by Americans with varying political beliefs, should not be in the business of illicitly attempting to influence our votes. If Aetna takes issue with the positions of any particular federal office holder or candidate, the company shuld have the courage to say so publicly. Funding shadowy groups to produce and air vicious, inaccurate campaign ads against political opponents without disclosing Aetna’s role deprives voters of the information necessary to place the ads in proper context.

Despite Aetna’s shady contributions to the two anti-health care reform groups, the company did volunteer on Monday to keep some popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act — even if the Supreme Court strikes the law down later this month. As Ezra Klein notes, the company’s response to the law seems somewhat schizophrenic; if they publicly disclose future political spending, however, it will be far easier to determine what Bertolini and company really believe.

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  • So I can add Aetna to my list of companies that I will no longer do business with and will work to make sure that none of my work options include them.

    • DurdyDawg

      That’ll teach’um!! IF you can get a few million others to join you.. As it is, their philosophy is akin to Netflix.. “What’s a few thousand losses? Hell there’s more where they came from”.

  • William Deutschlander

    It is called the illegal purchased transition of the U S Democracy to the U S Autocracy of the 2%!
    As long as the electorate is too stupid to recognize this malignancy it will proceed according to the Rove / Koch Bros script!
    The working class, middle class republicans, too blind to recognize this cancer, just continue to dazedly follow.

  • Shouldn’t the U.S. Attorney’s office be involved in this violation of the law. Simple noting the discrepancy doesn’t stop this kind of illegal behavior.

  • howa4x

    This is citizens untied in action. If ever there was a time to not put another conservative on the high court it is now!

  • J. Viray

    Typical example of greedy health care corporations that give cancer to the American people.

  • Landsende

    Aetna decided to jump on the bandwagon and agreed to keep most of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act after United Health made their announcement, not out of the goodness of their heart.

  • 212american

    Gee, I should be surprised by this, but how else would Romney be raising millions overnight> And, I’m sure we’ll be reading about the millions the insurane scammed from americans.

  • So this is how Aetna is using its taxpayer funded bailout money. Heads should roll.

  • Health insurance jerks want us all to pay through the nose for health care and kick us off when we are sick. They are evil and greedy. Our deductible keeps going up and up to the point we can’t afford to use our health insurance we are paying for. I pray for a Universal health care system. That would sure wake these greedy creeps up. They deny people from getting care, and then give millions of dollars in bonuses to their CEO’s. Shame on them.

  • DurdyDawg

    We should have never allowed PAC (or any other mega-contributor) to have even gotten off the floor.. And we should amend the ignorant law of having supreme court justices preside for life, that way we could demand the firing of these incompetent, corporate loving idiots.

  • Clarpark24

    Don’t occupy – boycott. Set an July 1 deadline for all right-wing corporate donations from Aetna to stop and a August 31 deadline for Bertolini to be ousted, or all investments, policies and other business with Aetna stops.

    If you want to get a capitalist’s attention, you hit them where they live. End one company’s political adventurism and make the CEO walk the plank, and the next one will be a lot easier.

    Make the the right’s money men suffer for their sins.