“You can do it,” Home Depot says to Republican politicians, “and we can help.” According to a report in Bloomberg News, the orange home improvement store in investing heavily in Red State candidates. Bernie Marcus, the co-founder of Home Depot, is one of the founders of the American Justice Partnership, a business group helping to fund attorneys general races. Bernie Marcus is listed as one of the 12 white men who are “national leaders” of the AJP, whose members include the right-wing Federalist Society, the American Enterprise Institute, and the National Association of Manufacturers. The American Justice Partnership says it “is a national nonprofit coalition of leading corporations, think tanks, foundations, trade associations, individuals and organizations advocating for legal reform at the state level.” That means fighting to restrain the work of activist Attorney Generals like New York’s Eliot Spitzer. On January 23, 2006, Sprawl-Busters reported that the campaign of Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, who is running against Spitzer for Governor of New York, had a lot of financial help from Home Depot financier Ken Langone, plus current and past CEOs of the world’s largest home improvement retailer. According to campaign finance reports, Suozzi has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from people with ties to Langone, a registered Republican and target of a Spitzer lawsuit. Langone, a Queens-born investment banker made a large fortune providing seed money for Home Depot. Langone also made headlines as a defendant in Eliot Spitzer’s lawsuit over the pay package awarded to former New York Stock Exchange chief Richard Grasso. Langone has help build Suozzi’s campaign for Governor with a $300,000 contribution. Suozzi has also received money from Langone’s wife, and two adult sons, plus business and charity group associates. Home Depot also gave $105,000 to the Republican State Leadership Committee, which is funding state-office races, including attorneys general. “Home Depot supports candidates who support our business, our shareholders and our customers,” said a statement from the a company spokesman to Bloomberg. “The support is not based on party affiliation.” The National Association of Manufacturers created the American Justice Partnership to help wage the campaign for favored attorney general candidates. Business groups complain that overly aggressive state law-enforcement officials are driving up costs, making it harder to compete and forcing companies to shed jobs. But the U.S. Public Interest Research Group told Bloomberg News that, “The rise of state attorneys general as consumer enforcers has proven to be an effective deterrent against corporate crime. It’s very disturbing that the business lobby is trying to take those consumer cops off the beat.” In 2005, many of the same organizations achieved a big victory when President George W. Bush signed legislation shifting most class-action lawsuits to federal court from state courts that are often more hostile to businesses.
If you shop at Home Depot, your money is being used to support conservative and libertarian candidates who run against people like Eliot Spitzer. Home Depot says it “supports candidates who support… our customers.” It actually works the other way around. If you shop at Home Depot, you are supporting the corporation’s right wing agenda. Isn’t it time you found another place to buy a hammer? For earlier stories on this subject, search by “Spitzer.”