Think Progress reported that Chris Matthews "has received tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for delivering speeches to corporate interest groups," in apparent violation of an NBC policy. A Media Matters for America review of these interest groups' political contributions has revealed that in every election cycle since 1998, the groups gave more money to Republicans than to Democrats.
According the Think Progress weblog, Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews and NBC's The Chris Matthews Show "has received tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for delivering speeches to corporate interest groups." As Think Progress noted, Matthews's collection of these fees "appear[s] to be in direct violation of NBC's policy prohibiting its employees from accepting such fees."
Think Progress reported that three trade associations -- The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), and The American Hospital Association (AHA) -- "independently confirmed" that Matthews collected fees for speeches he gave at their meetings and that the NVCA confirmed that Matthews "received a [speaking] fee of approximately $35,000" for one speech he gave to the group. Think Progress also reported that "[i]n an email ... MSNBC President Rick Kaplan said information that Matthews was paid to speak to outside groups was '[t]otally untrue ... totally,' " adding that Kaplan "provided no evidence to support his claim."
A Media Matters for America review of the political contributions of the three trade associations' Political Action Committees (PACs) -- as reported in The Center for Responsive Politics' Open Secrets online database -- has revealed that in each election cycle since 1998, each PAC has given more money to Republicans than to Democrats. The Open Secrets database does not include information on the PACs' contributions prior to the 1998 election cycle.
The findings of the review include:
- NVCA's PAC has given at least 64 percent of its political contributions to Republicans in every election cycle since 1998. So far during the 2006 election cycle, 65 percent of the PAC's donations have gone to Republicans.
- NACDS's PAC has given at least 60 percent of its contributions to Republicans in every election cycle since 1998. So far during the 2006 election cycle, 88 percent of the group's donations have gone to Republicans.
- AHA's PAC has given at least 52 percent of its contributions to Republicans in every election cycle since 1998. So far during the 2006 election cycle, 61 percent of the group's donations have gone to Republicans.
Additionally, a March 15 article in The Hill noted that NACDS president and CEO Craig Fuller "is a high-profile, veteran Republican lobbyist who worked in the White House under President Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush." According to the Hill article: "In addition to serving as Bush's chief of staff during his second term as vice president, Fuller co-directed his transition team when Bush won the presidency in 1988 and chaired the 1992 Republican National Convention. Before joining Bush's staff, Fuller worked under Reagan on the White House's Cabinet-affairs staff." The article also noted that although Fuller "has helmed [NACDS] since November 1999," a spokeswoman said on March 14 that he "has offered to resign after being notified of the board of directors' decision to make changes within the organization."