Washington Post reporter Dan Eggen scored a front page hit on...wait for it...conservative advocacy groups that oppose Obamacare. (See Funding for Health-Care Interest Groups Often Fuzzy.) Eggen is scandalized that (big) business interests want to fund groups that oppose President Obama's plans to socialize insurance in the U.S. Eggen singles out a handful of non-leftists groups and complains about "opaque financing" and "hidden support from insurers, drugmakers [and] unions."
The second part of Eggen's report similarly blasts left-of-center groups that take corporate money to support Obamacare. Yeah, right. Actually, Eggen expends just one paragraph mentioning that liberal groups might be "beholden to labor unions and liberal foundations with deep pockets." No serious discussion of the fact that industry lobbyists have been a huge backer of Obamacare - or, specific provisions thereof. (See, for example, DC Examiner author and columnist Timothy P. Carney's article this week on PhRMA's influence within the Obama administration and, last week, on another major trade association, America's Health Insurance Plans.)
Isn't it curious that Eggen omits entirely any examination of what corporate interests fund left-wing groups?
The second major flaw in Eggen's write up is that he fails to put interest group funding into context. Non-profit/advocacy groups need contributions to implement their respective agendas. Many (from both sides of the ideological debate) accept donations from corporate interests, in addition to individuals, foundations, and (ugh!) government. T
here's nothing inherently wrong with getting donations in support of an agenda, whether the donor is motivated by commercial or political interests. (And, is one a "purer" influence than the other?) Ideally, of course, an advocacy group seeks donations in support of its agenda and rejects donations aimed at undermining that agenda. It's fair to question whether funding corrupts a particular group's agenda. It's not fair to insinuate that corporate donations are a de facto corrupting influence -- and only of right-of-center groups.