News Corp. PAC increased political donations in June

July 21, 2011

News Corp.’s political action committee increased its donations in June, giving more than $50,000 to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, according to a disclosure report filed Wednesday evening.

The company’s PAC gave $5,000 to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), $15,000 to the Democratic Party’s House race fund, $5,000 to House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and $1,000 to Rep. John Conyers Jr. (Mich.), the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, among other contributions last month.

In total, the company gave $32,500 to Democrats and $20,000 to Republicans in June. The totals are more than twice as high as any month since September, when the company gave $75,000 in donations. The company’s PAC has typically favored Democrats by small majorities in the past few election cycles, campaign records show.

News Corp. has come under greater scrutiny in Congress amid the allegations of phone hacking at one of the company’s British tabloids, the News of the World. The company is also the subject of an FBI investigation of whether it bribed foreign police officers for information and hacked the phones of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The PAC report comes as some advocacy groups are calling for Congress to begin its own investigation of the company’s practices.

“The question today for any member of Congress who took money is whether they will stand up to Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. by joining the growing demand for congressional hearings,” said David Donnelly, national campaigns director for Public Campaign Action Fund. “With the severity of the acts perpetrated by News Corp. employees — and the possibility that Americans were targeted — I wouldn’t be surprised if they began to return these donations.”

The donations in the latest report came before July 4, when it was revealed that the News of the World listened to voicemail messages left on the phone of a schoolgirl who had been killed.

The company came under scrutiny last year for two giant donations it made to conservative political organizations: $1.25 million to the Republican Governors Association and $1 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the largest interest groups in last year’s midterm election and one that backed mainly Republican House and Senate candidates. Those donations came from the company’s general fund and not its political action committee.

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