During this week’s Supreme Court nomination hearings, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, portrayed Judge Neil Gorsuch as a biased judge who has consistently ruled in favor of corporations. If Gorsuch is not for the “little guy,” Feinstein’s line of questioning went, how could he be an acceptable nominee for the Supreme Court?
Gorsuch vehemently denied having some sort of pro-corporate agenda, explaining that as a judge his “job is to apply and enforce the law,” regardless of who the parties are in a particular case. Solely ruling based on the law and facts in question — and not allowing his personal beliefs to influence his ruling — sometimes results in outcomes that he, too, does not necessarily like. This answer wasn’t sufficient for Feinstein. She continued to question whether he would be a justice for “the big corporations” throughout Gorsuch’s nomination hearing.
Feinstein’s implication was that she, by contrast, is a true champion of the “little guy,” who stands opposed to the interests of large corporations. But a glance at her campaign donations from 2011 to 2016 suggests otherwise, as she has accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from corporate employees and lobbyists.
Feinstein’s campaign committee has accepted large campaign donations from employees of and lobbyists representing Edison International, PG&E, Wells Fargo, Time Warner, DISH Network, Intel, Sony, Oracle, Comcast, Chevron, and JPMorgan Chase & Co, to name a few.
Edison International employees, for example, donated almost $100,000 to Feinstein’s campaign committee from 2011 to 2016; its lobbyists donated $18,000. Over at General Dynamics, a global defense and aerospace company, its lobbyists donated a total of $33,750, while its company’s employees donated $28,750.
It is perfectly permissible for Feinstein to accept campaign donations from individuals representing big corporations. But her willingness to accept their largesse doesn’t quite square with her political posturing in questioning Gorsuch: Apparently, even if she doesn’t think corporations should get a fair hearing in the court of law, she’s got no problem with taking their money.