Klobuchar Received Thousands from Corporations While Introducing Legislation That Benefitted Them

AP Photo/Steve Helber

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has a troubling pattern of introducing legislation favored by major institutions in corporate America around the same they make large contributions to her campaign. 

The revelations are detailed in Profiles in Corruption: Abuse of Power by America’s Progressive Elite—a new book by Peter Schweizer, a senior contributor at Breitbart News and president of the Government Accountability Institute.

As a senior member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Klobuchar is uniquely situated to impact the bottomline of corporate interests. Unlike her more progressive rivals, like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Klobuchar has not been reflexively opposed to such interests. Rather, as Schweizer details, the Minnesota Democrat has become particularly adept at using her legislative powers not only to benefit corporate institutions, but herself as well. 

A prime example of this occurred in May 2011 when Klobuchar introduced legislation to deter internet piracy. Although Klobuchar was first-term senator mainly known her being “Minnesota nice,” the bill sparked widespread controversy

The legislation’s critics alleged it was draconian, pointing to a provision in the bill that made it a felony to illegally stream TV shows or films off the internet. One of the most prominent critics, the pop star Justin Bieber, even suggested that Klobuchar was the one who deserved to be “locked up” for proposing such a strict law.

The response from the entertainment industry, though, was exactly the opposite. Many industry executives not only lined up behind the bill, but it seems that many had already begun favoring Klobuchar even before its introduction. 

“In the ninety days before she introduced the bill, something unusual started happening,” Schweizer writes. “Over a one-week period in February, seven executives from 20th Century Fox sent her donations. Three more wrote her checks in March.”

Other entertainment industry giants quickly followed suit. Warner Bros., which would have reaped huge benefits from the proposed anti-piracy law, donated $20,000 through its political action committee. Soon afterwards, no fewer than 15 of its executives donated thousands to Klobuchar. Individuals associated with the Motion Picture Association of America and Comcast similarly made large-scale donations in the weeks leading up to the bill’s introduction.

“In all, the entertainment industry sent her more than $80,000, a flow of cash she had not experienced before; all of it was collected in the brief period before she introduced the bill,” Schweizer notes.

That troubling pattern has been on display throughout most of Klobuchar’s tenure in the United States Senate. In 2011 and 2017, respectively, Klobuchar’s campaign coffers saw a flood of incoming donations from Xcel Energy, a Minnesota-based utility holding company.

The money would not have drawn much scrutiny if not for it arriving in what appeared to be a coordinated fashion.

“At the end of September 2011, over a six-day period, no fewer than twenty-one executives from Xcel Energy wrote campaign checks to Klobuchar,” Schweizer writes. “Weeks earlier, Klobuchar introduced legislation … to give a ‘renewable electricity integration’ [tax] credit to utility companies.

If enacted, the legislation would have allowed companies like Excel to claim thousands if not millions of dollars in federal tax credits for producing renewable energy.

Likewise, Klobuchar’s decision to co-sponsor the Clean Energy for America Act in May 2017, coincided with another surge of campaign donations from Exel’s executives.

“Beginning at the end of May 2017 over a ten-day period, twenty-eight executives from Xcel Energy sent her contributions totaling $12,500,” Schweizer writes.

The bill, if passed, would have extensively expanded the tax credits available to energy companies.

Klobuchar’s intermingling of legislative prowess and campaign finance has made her a powerhouse fundraiser among Senate Democrats. In her most recent reelection in 2018, she raised more than $17 million—thirty-eight times the amount brought in by her Republican opponent. The astronomical sum was made possible by Klobuchar’s strong backing from corporate America and their special interest representatives in Washington, D.C.

“She took in donations from the CEOs of eleven of Minnesota’s twenty-five largest corporations,” Schweizer writes. Klobuchar “has done particularly well with law firms and lobbyists—they have donated more than $3 million to her three Senate races.”

The revelations posed in Profiles in Corruption emerge as Kolobuchar’s 2020 campaign picks up steam, buoyed by a high-profile endorsement by The New York Times.

In announcing its endorsement the Times lauded Klobuchar for her legislative accomplishments, arguing she was “most productive senator among the Democratic field in terms of bills passed with bipartisan support.”

As Schweizer shows, however, those accomplishments often resulted in mutual benefit for the senator as well as the corporations donating to her campaign.


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