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Feb-28-2010 19:08printcomments

The Southwestern Company Part 3: Web of Deceit Political Influence

Political donations by Southwestern Company executives and owners have increased dramatically since 2000.

Senators who support the SW Company

(EUGENE, Ore.) - Southwestern Company owners and executives have spent $151,398 dollars influencing Federal elections since 2000. Of their individual contributions, 86% have gone to Republican candidates.

As revealed in the first two parts of this story, The Southwestern Company is engaged in an organized scheme of tax evasion and illegal immigration that violates both State and Federal laws.

The Southwestern Company - Part 1: Walks Like a Duck, Quacks Like a Duck, Duck

The Southwestern Company Part 2: A RICO Case

The focus of this article is on exposing the politicians and political action committees being used by the Southwestern Company to wield political influence, and the individuals associated with the Southwestern Company who are the major political donors.

Political donations by Southwestern Company executives and owners have increased dramatically since 2000. The Southwestern Great American Inc. Political Action Committee became active in 2004, and has increased donations and activity since then.

The list of politicians and the amounts received include contributions from individuals employed by the Southwestern Company, direct affiliates of the Southwestern Company as listed on their website, the Southwestern Company PAC, and the Tom James PAC. The Tom James PAC is primarily funded by Spencer Hays, a major owner of the Southwestern Company, and employees of the Tom James Company, which he owns.

Major Donors

  • SPENCER HAYS: $74,800
  • JERRY HEFFEL: $18,550
  • RALPH MOSLEY: $14,566
  • THOMAS MCDOW: $10,250
  • HENRY BEDFORD: $9,250
  • DAVID CAUSER: $4,000
  • CREIG J SOEDER: $3,500
  • FRED PREVOST: $3,250
  • ROY B LOFTIN: $3,000

Federal Politicians Receiving Contributions

  • Presidents:
  • GEORGE W BUSH -- Republican, DC: $5,250
  • BARACK H OBAMA -- Democrat, IL: $2,000

U.S. Senators:

  • LAMAR ALEXANDER -- Republican, TN: $33,350
  • ARLEN SPECTER -- Republican, PA: $17,550
  • JOHN S. MCCAIN -- Republican, VA: $8,800
  • ROBERT P CORKER -- Republican, TN: $8,450
  • MITCH MCCONNELL -- Republican, KY: $7,000
  • SAXBY CHAMBLISS -- Republican, GA: $3,300
  • JOHN CORNYN -- Republican, TX: $3,000
  • RICHARD J SANTORUM -- Republican, PA: $3,000
  • JOHN ERIC ENSIGN -- Republican, NV: $3,000
  • JON KYL -- Republican, AZ: $2,000
  • MAX BAUCUS -- Democrat, MT: $2,000
  • ORRIN G HATCH -- Republican, UT: $2,000
  • CHARLES E GRASSLEY -- Republican, IA: $2,000
  • RICHARD J DURBIN -- Democrat, IL: $1,500
  • SPENCER SENATOR ABRAHAM -- Republican, MI: $1,500
  • GEORGE ALLEN -- Republican, VA: $1,500
  • JEFF SESSIONS -- Republican, AL: $1,250
  • ROBERT C SMITH -- Republican, NH: $1,000
  • KIRK HUMPHREYS -- Republican, OK: $1,000
  • JAMES MATTHES TALENT -- Republican, MO: $1,000
  • FRANK R LAUTENBERG -- Democrat, NJ: $1,000
  • CONRAD BURNS -- Republican, MT: $1,000
  • JAMES W DEMINT -- Republican, SC: $1,000
  • BENJAMIN L CARDIN -- Democrat, MD: $1,000
  • PHIL GRAMM -- Republican, TX: $1,000
  • MIKE DEWINE -- Republican, OH: $1,000
  • SLADE GORTON -- Republican, WA: $1,000
  • ELIZABETH DOLE -- Republican, NC: $1,000
  • PETER G FITZGERALD -- Republican, IL: $1,000
  • HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON -- Democrat, NY: $1,000
  • KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON -- Republican, TX: $1,000
  • RICHARD MICHAEL DEWINE -- Republican, OH: $1,000
  • ROBERT C BYRD -- Democrat, DC: $1,000
  • RICHARD BURR -- Republican, NC: $1,000
  • CRAIG THOMAS -- Republican, WY: $1,000
  • LINDSEY OLIN GRAHAM -- Republican, SC: $500
  • C TRENT LOTT -- Republican, MS: $500

U.S. Representatives:

Southwestern Affiliated Political Contributions per Election Cycle

  • MARSHA W BLACKBURN -- Republican, TN: $27,357
  • BART GORDON -- Democrat, TN: $9,000
  • CHARLES B RANGEL -- Democrat, NY: $2,500
  • JAMES T WALSH -- Republican, NY: $2,000
  • WALTER BEAMAN JONES -- Republican, NC: $1,500
  • WESLEY WADE WATKINS -- Republican, OK: $1,500
  • ROBERT R SIMMONS -- Republican, CT: $1,000
  • J DENNIS HASTERT -- Republican, IL: $1,000
  • STEVE CHABOT -- Republican, OH: $1,000
  • LOUIS J BARLETTA -- Republican, PA: $1,000
  • JERRY W COOPER -- Democrat, TN: $1,000
  • BOB ETHERIDGE -- Democrat, NC: $1,000
  • R. PAT DEWINE -- Republican, OH: $1,000
  • BRAD CARSON -- Democrat, OK: $1,000
  • THOMAS CASS BALLENGER -- Republican, NC: $1,000
  • HAROLD D ROGERS -- Republican, KY: $1,000
  • CHUCK BLASDEL -- Republican, OH: $1,000
  • STEVEN C LATOURETTE -- Republican, OH: $1,000
  • JON CHRISTOPHER SR PORTER -- Republican, NV: $900
  • PATRICK J TIBERI -- Republican, OH: $500
  • PHILIP M CRANE -- Republican, IL: $500
  • JIM GERLACH -- Republican, PA: $400
  • TIM MURPHY -- Republican, PA: $400
  • SCOTT GARRETT -- Republican, NJ: $400
  • MARILYN MUSGRAVE -- Republican, CO: $400

  • Political Action Committees Receiving Contributions:
  • WEDGEPAC: $5,000

=================================== Business/Economy Reporter Ersun Warncke is a native Oregonian. He has a degree in Economics from Portland State University and studied Law at University of Oregon. At a young age, his career spans a wide variety of fields, from fast food, to union labor, to computer programming. He has published works concerning economics, business, government, and media on blogs for several years. He currently works as an independent software designer specializing in web based applications, open source software, and peer-to-peer (P2P) applications.

Ersun describes his writing as being "in the language of the boardroom from the perspective of the shop floor." He adds that "he has no education in journalism other than reading Hunter S. Thompson." But along with life comes the real experience that indeed creates quality writers. Right now, every detail that can help the general public get ahead in life financially, is of paramount importance.

You can write to Ersun at:

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.

Russell March 16, 2013 10:24 am (Pacific time)

Wow, SW increased its political donations from about $17 to over $40k. I'll bet that bought them huge, huge influence. That's a pittance, compared to banks, GE and tons of other company's contributions. I sold for SW for 6 summers, recruited teams, etc. Had some great summers and some not so great summers. SW isn't for everyone, it's especially not for anyone who isn't ready to bust their rear 80 hours per week and be totally focused on working. I found this story to be amusing.

Wyrdwyrd October 26, 2012 12:16 am (Pacific time)

Great series of articles, Ersun. I worked for the Southwestern Company for one summer back in 1995. After the summer, I was done. But then they started to try to pull me back in. Eventually, I and a fellow "bookman" created enough drama that we got the point across that we didn't want to be in it anymore. And that was kind of the only way to get out. If you ever do a follow-up, please try focusing on the psychological aspects of the thing `cuz they are extreme in the extreme. I mean, maybe not as bad as James Arthur Ray, but pretty bad. Southwestern definitely becomes not so much a job but rather a whole way-of-life. -- Furry cows moo and decompress.

Taylor August 20, 2012 7:21 pm (Pacific time)

I found this website after a google search on SW was prompted by a visit from a kid from Estonia this evening. Trying to get all the positive and negative POVs, and this website certainly espouses the latter, but I feel compelled to point out the stink genereated here by an editor that feels the need to slam commenters. If your story is the truth and truth is the best defense against libel, why do you need to sink so low as to insult those who post a differeing opinion? Talk about shooting your own reputation in the foot.

Editor: My reputation? We have almost 25,000 articles online, you think any single story defines somebody?  I think not.  People are rude, they get what they give.

David Fitzgerald March 3, 2010 2:13 am (Pacific time)

The game begins at GM Stadium. It's USA taking on the canadians. Over 30'000 tickets for this game were sold. To watch the Canadians take the gold. So please dont cry or cause a fuss. Just pack up your gear and get back on your bus. Hockey was invented in canada and it's many years old. Crosby showed you all that by winning the gold.

Hank Ruark March 1, 2010 11:49 am (Pacific time)

To all: For your own self-interest, see Ersun's detail re what it takes to "inform" opinion for publication here. For the record, not one of my some-600 Op Eds on S-N was ever written with less than four-to--eight hours of real preparation...and some with much more...and that does not count 60 working years pay-off from many. experience in "very checkered career". For those who write much of this baby-brained Comment here --straining Tim's phenomenal patience and classy-but-costly forebearance- be warned that writers so contributing have other channels not so madly smeared, messily manipulated at loss of attention and even interest for serious readers, for whom we "work" If one seeks out 20-30 real rational and respectable solid sources via Internet,then does interpretation and analysis for professionally-prepared copy content, that effort costs out for many editors around $50.00 an hour on contemporary rate. So when you "pays your nickel" here, make sure you know what your are reading, where it comes from, and what it costs in professional-level time and travail. Reasonable, rational, fair and ethical serious readers do pay sensible attention and do share-and-learn on S-N's open, honest,fully democratic dialog channel,which is why some of us continue to contribute... and why S-N has very high monthly "hits" and high-level standing on major worldwide search mechanisms on Internet. Your Comment counts and is seen and valued far further than you might have known. Make sure it reflects both commonsense and your own real contribution rather than baby-brained persiflage !!

Hank Ruark March 1, 2010 11:20 am (Pacific time)

Friend Ersun: Your use of "conspiracy" right on the money --no pun intended!.
Here's definition:conspiracy (as in "plot") n. : a plot to carry out some harmful or illegal act (especially a political plot)
ANYone seeing D.C. scene for last 50 years,esp.participant, will confirm the flat fact of massive corporate "conspiracy" for conquering Constitutional government, at any cost, since then they simply get it back multipled by massively managed deregulation and deeply distorted privatizstion, to socialize risk and privatize profits...
Those so involved in seeking influence use any/all means, including corruption of any vulnerable Congressional member, by their lavishly laid-on "corporate campaign contributions", as reported here for past four years.
Does anyone seriously now contend allathat happened with each participant acting only "on own" ? --NO exchange of aid on vulnerable legislators, no social/personal/business meets to exchange ideas, techniques, et al, et al ?(!!)
For any/such, have some fine ocean-view property in Arizona with absolute guarantee re any tsunami !! That's how it's done, not only in D.C. but in all FIFTY capital cities in this nation, too --with ten-to-one standard ratio re which party gets the heavy moola, measured mainly by results-delivered, per the points reported by both writer and Comment-respondents.
You can confirm via simple conversation with any reporter working Legislature-beat, in any state capital...most will wilingly lay out local detail with names, numbers and much more nauseating detail, often too-strong to publish via either paper or broadcast. (Again, "been there, done that" in past years...)
Wreaking danger to democracy has been highly evident since early '40s,multiplied mightily via Reagan's misled rationale "Government IS the problem !", heavily promoting devastating attacks on regulation and many other reasonable restraints.
(Need "nauseating exsmples" from recent economic debacle worldwide, so-generated ??)
Current lobbyist count in D.C. now more than 40,000,and still growing; more than 2,000 in past year on climate change issues alone. Striking fact: Most-potent always past Congressional participants, now performing as influence- seekeers from former colleague list comprised comprehensively for their own kind of "conspiracy"...
Brandon-baby, "been there, done that !" and GOPsteres get at least ten-to-one dollars due to propensity of GOPster gang to hang together...which is why we need simply to hang them singly, separately, for national survival... before "obstructionism" can totally destruct democracy.

Ersun Warncke March 1, 2010 10:44 am (Pacific time)

"A first grader could have written this." -- This is a silly little comment, which I doubt anyone would take seriously, but to give the readers some idea of what it takes to prepare a report like this: Federal contributions are reported based on individuals names, occupations, and the official group receiving the funds. Individuals often use different variations on their names (Mr., Mrs., Jr., Etc.), state different things for their occupations, and give money to the same politicians through different groups. In order to prepare a report like this, I first had to search for Southwestern, and find all individual contributions with Southwestern Company listed under occupation, then run each of those names individually to find their donations where they didn't list Southwestern, then based on the PAC donations of these individuals, go and get separate records for each PAC they had donated to. I then had to design and create a custom computer program to extract and analyze all of this data, fix all the name variations, find all the different campaign committees, etc, that were for the same politicians, and then break this all down by party, state, and house of congress. Despite the public nature of this data, it is hardly user friendly, and the time and skill required to prepare a report like this is way beyond what most people could/would do. It took me about 4 hours to do this report, but only because I have the ability to write a computer program to do most of the analysis. If you had to do it by hand it would probably take much longer. Something else you might notice when looking at this data, is that of the top donors, which is a good indicator of power within the company, there is not a single female on the list. Southwestern certainly hires plenty of females to sell books for them (probably a majority) but apparently they aren't so interested in having them in senior management and ownership positions. Just thought I would point that out.

Ersun Warncke March 1, 2010 10:29 am (Pacific time)

Douglas, I would definitely be willing to look into it. If this is an area where you have a lot of personal knowledge and experience, I would also suggest that you consider writing a story on it yourself. If it is a solid story with good documentation, and you are willing to put your name on it, Tim would probably be willing to publish it (although I obviously can't speak for him). A lot of what Salem News is about is getting people with expertise in their own fields to share that directly with the readers, which is what makes for such a unique and high quality news product. If you are interested in talking send me an email ( I have a good friend in Portland who has been working as a construction laborer for a couple of years, and I have heard some stories from him that could definitely be considered news worthy. It would also be interesting to look at the business aspect of the issue, which is that the flood of cheap labor, and cheap tools from China, lowers the bar so far that it takes almost no investment or skill to get into the industry, which makes it difficult for people who actually make long term investments in quality to see those investments pay off.

douglas benson March 1, 2010 7:21 am (Pacific time)

Great article guys . Ersun I have an idea for your next article .The abuse of independent contractor laws by constuction and other companies . I work in the construction industry and we have been trying for years to get the contractors board to do something about this practice . The laws are there but there is very little money or will to stop them . I went union just because I had a very hard time finding a contractor that would hire me without a license and bond . This scam is one of the major reasons that illegals are still able to take many constuction jobs ,pay fifty dollars a day ,no workmans comp no un-employment no taxes ect . The contractor gets the bid and then hires "independent contractors at about the same rate he would pay an employee .These ODOL even encourages this practice at a great disservice to both the employees and the tax payers . If you would like more info Im in the phone book . I choose to use my real name because if anyone really wanted to know they could find out anyway . PEACE .

Brandon February 28, 2010 10:13 pm (Pacific time)

Hot off the presses! Wealthy, caucasian, private American citizens like Republicans more than Democrats and contribute money through Political Action Committees! They're a mafia I tell ya!

Phil Ellenbecker February 28, 2010 10:00 pm (Pacific time)

2008 Southwestern Company Contributions to Wisconsin Representative Terry Moulton (R):

Henry Bedford, June 28, 2008, Franklin TN 37064: $250.00
Spencer Hays, June 28, 2008, Nashville TN 37230: $500.00
Daniel W. Moore, June 28, 2008, Brentwood TN 37027: $250.00

Malinda's Traveling Sales Crew Protection Act (SB-80) died in committee. A bill authored by Wisconsin State Senator Jon Erpenbach with the main goal of protecting Wisconsin kids and homeowners from the continued crime and exploitation unleashed by the door-to-door sales industry here in Wisconsin.

Representative Moulton was the chair person.

For more information on the Southwestern Company please visit our web site:

There is no doubt in my mind that Southwestern is aware of our efforts to pass federal legislation to regulate the direct sales industry. I really hate to use the word 'influence'to explain what these contributions are for,
but I can tell all of your readers that Southwestern will do anything to stop federal legislation that would make their so called independent contractors employees. We have experienced their resistance many times before.

Great work Ersun, I applaud your dedicated efforts and your thirst for uncovering the truth.

Phil Ellenbecker
Dedicated Memorial Parents Group

Ersun Warncke February 28, 2010 8:45 pm (Pacific time)

I am not sure where the term "conspiracy" comes into play. Sounds like a classic tactic to dismiss clearly presented facts to me. I use the term "influence" because that is what political contributions are intended to buy. That is a fact that is beyond dispute, and inherent in corporate logic: all corporate expenditures must have the end goal of increasing profit, therefore political contributions must have the aim of increasing profit through influence of policy. I didn't write the rules, I am only providing stats sheets for the players. I suppose you could say that Southwestern's pull is minor league. I wouldn't disagree. I suspect that most these politician will not be going to bat for Southwestern at the end of the day. They would probably prefer to return the contributions than be associated with the company. Still, you tell me, have you donated $75,000 to politicians in the past 10 years? Probably not.

Carl Gaines February 28, 2010 7:42 pm (Pacific time)

This is a joke, right?  You see conspiracy/shady influence in tiny $ amount contributions to many candidates?  Is this a real newspaper?

Editor: Newspaper?  Wake up, this is 2010.  Newspapers are dying, we don't sacrifice trees to deliver a news product.  You must have been sleeping under a rock, so I won't expect you to know very much.  Also, there is major irony in your comment; to the people getting ripped off and treated like dirt by hardcore traveling sales companies that almost entirely benefit white republicans, and the crews being driven to dangerous levels with the SW "sell sell sell at any cost" mentality, amounts like $27,357 are far from chump change.  Nope, not a 'tiny' amount of money to a working American.  Seems you have been getting so financially fat for so long, that you can't even keep track of how ridiculous this very comment is.  

John February 28, 2010 7:34 pm (Pacific time)

Is this it? Hardly the climax we expected from part's one and two. I'm sure there are many companies that have similar contributions and percentages that go to both parties . A first grader could have written this.

Editor: Man, you SW guys have been lying in wait for this, haven't you?  And you're expecting a climax no less...LOL!  You should seriously consider getting a life. 

And by the way, you wouldn't appear to be such an obvious company shill if you had just waited a little while.  Instead, you barely waited an hour after the story was published to launch your little act of keyboard bravery.  Fingers were burning weren't they?  And for the record, our writer Ersun is way smarter than the average bear.  He could expose crooks and write award winning material in his sleep, so your weak little attempt to degrade him is nothing but a laugh to us.  You however are a great writer, I'll bet you are a second grader?  

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