Turns out, it’s big banking money.
The report released by the group TakeAction Minnesota unwinds the financial contributions behind the push for Voter ID and connects them to the CEO’s of Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank and TCF, Minnesota’s three largest banks.
Dan McGrath, Executive Director of TakeAction Minnesota told reporters that “over the past week, we’ve learned a lot about who would lose if photo ID becomes law — over 700,000 eligible Minnesota voters, including seniors, low-income persons, students, people of color, disabled and rural Minnesotans. What hasn’t been discussed is who WINS when people can’t vote. That’s what this report outlines.”
The report’s key findings were reduced to two large charts that shows how banking executives put members of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) in the House leadership with marching orders to push Voter ID legislation. ALEC member Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer dutifully agreed and introduced a measure as soon as the new majority took office.
The first chart showcased an extensive network of money flowing from banks down to bank-led political entities including Minnesota Forward, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the Minnesota Business Partnership, the Bankers’ Association, and the Coalition of Minnesota Businesses, who then financed independent expenditure campaigns instrumental in electing the new Republican majorities. Jon Campbell, Wells Fargo Executive Vice-President, chairs the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. Richard Davis, President of U.S. Bank, serves as President of the Minnesota Business Partnership.
The second chart detailed banking contributions to individual House and Senate candidates, all of whom are backing or leading photo ID legislative efforts, including House Speaker Kurt Zellers and House Majority Leader Matt Dean.
• The independent expenditures from the Coalition of Minnesota Businesses and Chamber of Commerce helped elect twelve new Republican legislators in 2010.
• The Coalition and Chamber spent an average of $28,300 per campaign, an average of 34% of the total money in each race.
• On average, the amount of independent expenditures from the Coalition and Chamber were almost twice as much as the total contributions raised by the candidates themselves.
The battle for voting rights is key in all states, but especially in states like Minnesota with a rich tradition of high voter turnout and a politically engaged citizenry. If Voter ID is successful in a state like Minnesota then voting rights across the country are at real risk.
With this much support from the Big Finance, McGrath’s question is one that demands an answer: why will big banks benefit so much from restricting voter rights? Just what do they have planned?
Photo from hjl via flickr.