For the recycling industry, all politics is local

For the recycling industry, all politics is local

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

An assessment of campaign donation data shows that the waste management and recycling industry generally avoided the recent presidential race but was active in Congressional political campaigns.

As the result of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited donations, so-called super PACs were major forces in the 2012 campaign between President Barack Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney (direct donations to presidential campaigns are restricted by size). For example, the three largest political action committees involved in the presidential campaign collected a combined $343 million. Nonetheless, only one recycling industry leader, Daniel DiMicco, CEO of Nucor Steel, donated to any of these funds. DiMicco gave $50,000 to a pro-Romney group.

A number of companies have established internal PACs that gather donations from employees and then disburse funds to campaigns. For example, the International Paper employee fund topped $1 million in donations this campaign cycle while the Waste Management employee PAC raised $320,000. An analysis of disbursements shows that such PACs carefully hedge their political bets and provide funds to numerous candidates from both parties.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries PAC received over $95,000 from 65 members. ISRI too distributed its funds widely, with disbursements being made to about 30 House candidates and to eight people seeking Senate seats. That said, ISRI favored two members of the House Subcommittee on Environment and Commerce. Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), the subcommittee chairman, received $6,000 from ISRI and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) was given $9,500. The campaign data suggest that ISRI also implored members in the Midwest and New Jersey areas to also support these candidates. Shimkus received an additional $18,000 from 11 recycling industry executives and Rep. Pallone took in $18,150 from 19 industry leaders. In truth, neither candidate was in a tough race; both Shimkus and Pallone won with nearly two-thirds of the vote.

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