Report: Democrat Mark Kelly Finds Way to Accept Corporate PAC Money Around Pledge

Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., right, accompanied by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), who will be in a brutal reelection campaign and has sworn off corporate PAC money, reportedly found a way to accept corporate campaign cash without going back on his word.

Kelly took in over $55,000 in contributions during the last fundraising quarter of 2021 from “PACs of corporate trade groups and the Senate leadership committees of many of his fellow Democrats,” the Washington Free Beacon reported.

His fellow Democrat’s leadership committees have received tens of thousands of dollars from the very same corporate PACs Kelly has argued against taking from in the past. Kelly reportedly also took money from other trade organizations such as the National Football League and Internet & Television Association.

The report explained that accepting corporate donations from this “loophole” allows other colleagues and committees who accept the corporate cash to transfer it to Kelly. At the same time, he maintains his image of swearing off the money, which is another example of the Democrat “inconsistent position” on corporations influencing politics.

In the past, Kelly has said that corporate money is “one of the biggest problems in our politics today.” In fact, Kelly and Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) recently introduced a bill to ban companies from forming PACs or being allowed to solicit money to fund them. “Our legislation would put an end to the corrupt influence of corporate PACs in our political system,” Kelly said in a statement about the bill. He also alluded to his constituents being about to “trust” him to make the right decision for the county and not the corporations.

The spokesman from End Citizens United, Adam Bozzi, recently said corporate PACs “lobby for corporate interests. They’re not secretive about that. That’s why they exist.” He also explained that upper-level management, executives, or shareholders generally have the most control of where the PAC’s money goes.

After Kelly came out against accepting corporate PAC money, he attended a fundraiser in 2019 hosted by a firm, lobbying on behalf of Citigroup, Chevron, and ExxonMobil. Shortly after, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), rumored to be a possible 2024 primary contender against the state’s other senator, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), criticized him for accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars during his corporate speaking circuit. Gallego argued that it went against Kelly’s ban on corporate PAC contributions.

The Free Beacon explained Kelly’s history of using his loophole to accept campaign cash:

But while Kelly has not taken cash directly from corporate PACs, he has still benefited from their political contributions. Eleven Democratic senators have given $40,000 to Kelly’s campaign through their leadership PACs. A review of FEC records shows all of the committees took thousands of dollars in corporate PAC money.

Kelly also received contributions from three trade associations serving corporate interests. The Internet & Television Association’s PAC gave $5,000 to Kelly’s campaign. It is funded by the executives of Comcast, Cox Communications, and Charter Communications, three of the biggest cable and broadband companies in the country.

The NFL’s political action committee, Gridiron PAC, gave $2,500 to Kelly’s campaign. The white-shoe law firm K&L Gates gave $1,000 to Kelly. Kelly took another $5,000 from the PAC for the Real Estate Roundtable, a trade group representing the country’s biggest real estate developers. The PAC for the Association for Accessible Medicine, a trade group representing generic drug makers, gave another $2,000 to Kelly.

The Free Beacon noted that the senator’s campaign did not respond to questions regarding him using the loophole to accept corporate cash and if he would refund the money.

While Kelly appears to be accepting campaign cash from anywhere, he will be in a tough election. Last November, the Cook Political Report shifted Kelly’s senate seat from a “lean Democrat” to “toss-up,” along with Sen. Raphael Warnock’s (GA) seat and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s (NV) seat.

Additionally, an Arizona Public Opinion Pulse survey released at the beginning of the month found that a generic Republican candidate barely trails the incumbent in a hypothetical midterm matchup. The hypothetical matchup showed that Kelly only leads with 42 percent against 38 percent.

Jacob Bliss is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter.


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