The Auto Industry's Biggest Political Contributors Of The Midterm Election

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
the auto industry s biggest political contributors of the midterm election

With news reports filtering in about an industry-mounted offensives against the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and proposed increases to CAFE standards, we thought we’d take a look at how much the industry spent in the recent midterm election cycle. According to, the chart above shows the biggest spenders in “Automotive,” and industry sector that includes OEMs, suppliers, rental companies and just about anything else related to four-wheeled motorized transport. Charged up by the bailout-era dealer cull, it’s not surprising that NADA took the top spot, and with a hotly-contested Korea free trade agreement under negotiation, the AFIT PAC is a logical number two. But Enterprise beating out Ford? Didn’t see that one coming. Still, the contributor breakdown for the “Auto Manufacturer” sector is even more interesting…

The third-biggest OEM manufacturer is the Colorado-based manufacturer of a delivery van that it’s been shopping to the military. Number four is perhaps the most interesting: HK Motors is the Alabama-based prospective manufacturer of mysterious hybrid vehicles run by former Brilliance Chairman Yung Yueng. It’s also a Visa farm which uses the State Department’s EB-5 program… a scheme that closely resembles a venture being launched by Brilliance’s former CEO. And it outspent Chrysler in the latest election.

Still, the big lesson from these numbers is that the entire auto industry is spending way less on campaign contributions than in years past. No surprises there: the automakers have been cutting back everywhere for the last several years. But then campaign contributions are also just one part of the equation: lobbying on Capitol Hill is often a more effective tool for influencing policy. Below is a list of the top automaker lobbying spenders of 2010.

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  • Jacob_coulter Jacob_coulter on Nov 10, 2010

    You left out the major contributor that gave more than all these organization combined--the UAW. Around $8.5 million in 2010 alone, and ALL to Democrats and Left-leaning causes. That doesn't count what the members individually contributed either. The UAW was THE reason for the auto bailouts. The rest of these numbers are chickenfeed. It was always about filling political coffers.

    • Windswords Windswords on Nov 11, 2010

      When you think about it, the UAW is just like a business in this case looking out for it's own self interest. They should be added to the chart.

  • Windswords Windswords on Nov 11, 2010

    I was surprised to see my old employer JM Family Enterprises so high on the list. They are better known as Southeast Toyota Distributors. The founder Jim Moran was a big time democrat. After he died the company was turned over to some management group. When I was working there they ran an ad that showed a smiling mouth of pearly white teeth, except that one tooth was gold plated and had the Toyota sombrero painted on it. I suppose the persons mouth in the ad was black (I never saw the ad and I don't know what the copy was) because Jessie Jackson went ballistic on Southeast Toyota and did his usual race pimping. Somehow the ad was racist. Unfortunately JM capitulated to his complaints, apologized profusely, promised to never do it again, and committed to lots more diversity training (on top of what we already had). Somehow I don't think any of that was as important to Jessie as the big fat contribution that was given to his organization.

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