As the battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama intensifies in advance of Rhode Island’s March 4 presidential primary, some local Obama supporters are criticizing Clinton for having accepted at least $2000 in 2005 and 2006 from the political action committee of Textron, the Providence-based conglomerate.
While the contributions represent an iota in the context of campaign fundraising, Obama supporters point to the issue in differentiating between the two Democrats.
In a news release, state Representative David Segal (D-Providence), whose district includes Textron and who asserts that the corporation produces cluster bombs, calls Textron’s conduct “starkly opposed to the values of most Democrats and Americans. Nobody who takes their money can legitimately claim to be against this war [in Iraq], or the horrors of war more generally.” (Following a March 2007 protest outside its Providence office, Textron denied that it or its subsidiaries manufacture cluster bombs.)
Christine Heenan, Rhode Island communications director for the Clinton campaign, declined to comment on the news release and the issues it raises after the Phoenix furnished her with a copy of it.
Last August, the US Securities and Exchange Commission fined Textron more than $4.5 million as a sanction for more than $600,000 in bribes paid by its David Brown subsidiary to Saddam Hussein’s regime from 2000 to 2003.
In the news release, which calls on Clinton to return the PAC money from Textron, Providence City Councilman Miguel Luna, an Obama supporter, says, “I find appalling the double standard that allows her to vote for war with Hussein, and also take money from a corporation that was bribing him . . . . By taking money from Textron and those who profit from war, she’s committing herself to continuing a foreign policy based on war, and not on dialogue.”
Last October, in an examination of campaign contributions in 2007 from employees of major defense industry contractors, Thomas B. Edsall wrote on the Huffington Post that “Senator Clinton took $52,600, more than half of the total going to all Democrats, and a figure equaling 60 percent of the sum going to the entire GOP field. Her closest competitor for defense industry money is former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R), who raised $32,000.”
Critics have previously rapped Clinton for voting in 2006 against Senate Amendment 4882, which would have banned the sale of cluster munitions for use in heavily populated areas.
Acknowledging that $2000 in PAC money is a minor amount in the scheme of campaigns, Segal, in an interview, nonetheless says that he is an Obama supporter “substantially because of the difference in his and Clinton’s behavior relative to issues like this.”
Textron’s work for the defense industry has a controversial past. In 2001, for example, the Phoenix reported on how peace activists questioned how the conglomerate, whose impending $4.5 billion sale of military helicopters to Turkey was under fire from human-rights groups, was chosen Outstanding Philanthropic Corporation for that year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
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