Despite Criticism, Hillary Clinton Received How Much From the Airlines in Campaign Contributions?

illary Clinton is hoping to become the next president of the United States; and despite criticizing airlines for high airfares back in October of 2015, she has already received $145,246.00 from the airlines to date in 2016 — placing her as the top recipient of funds from airlines as released by the Federal Election Commission of the United States as of Monday, February 22, 2016, according to this list provided by the Center For Responsive Politics, which is a nonpartisan research group not for profit based in the District of Columbia.

That amount is almost double the $75,868.00 which Ted Cruz — another candidate hoping to become the next president of the United States — has received in 2016. In fact, all of the other presidential candidates — including ones which are no longer in the race — have received a combined total of $235,562.00, meaning that Hillary Clinton has received greater than 38 percent of the total amount of funding of $380,808.00 already given to presidential candidates from airlines.

After American Airlines with $533,283.00 in total contributions, Delta Air Lines is the airline which is the second top contributor of lobbying efforts to political interests, spending $400,241.00 during the 2015-2016 election cycle, according to this list provided by the Center For Responsive Politics, which tracks the effects of money and lobbying on elections and public policy.

The lodging industry gave even more money to Hillary Clinton — to the tune of $263,802.00 — than the airlines; and she also received significantly more money in campaign contributions than any other presidential candidate. The same is true with cruise ship lines: with $17,050.00 in campaign contributions, Hillary Clinton is once again the top recipient in funding from a sector of the travel industry.

Hmm…you would think that Ted Cruz would win out in with cruise lines — he does not even appear on the list for receiving campaign contributions — but I digress as usual.

The methodology is that “the numbers on this page are based on contributions from PACs, soft money donors, and individuals giving $200 or more. (Only those groups giving $5,000 or more are listed here. Soft money applies only to cycles 1992-2002.) In many cases, the organizations themselves did not donate; rather the money came from the organization’s PAC, its individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.”

Hillary Clinton Versus Airlines

“Over the past year, oil prices have fallen from over $100 a barrel to under $50, and the price of jet fuel has dropped more than a dollar per gallon”, according to this article written by Hillary Clinton pertaining to “being pro-business does not mean hanging consumers out to dry” for Quartz back on Tuesday, October 20, 2015. “But the four major airlines — down from 10 airlines just 15 years ago — are charging as much as ever for tickets, even as they hit travelers with extra fees, for everything from checking a suitcase to picking a seat when they fly home at the holidays.”

Richard B. Hirst — who is known more popularly as Ben and is the executive vice president of corporate affairs and special counsel for Delta Air Lines — countered back in this article he wrote back on Wednesday, October 21, 2015 with an internal memorandum, which is posted below in its entirety.

In a column on the website Quartz, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton makes the case that the American system of capitalism isn’t working the way it’s supposed to and needs fixing. It’s an issue that is sure to be debated by all candidates in the coming year.

The former secretary of state is correct when she writes, “It’s good for our economy when companies prosper by innovating, creating new products, and investing in their workers.” But she is wrong to use the airline industry as an example of where that’s not happening.

She says that “the four major airlines — down from 10 airlines just 15 years ago — are charging as much as ever for tickets.”  That’s just not true. The average airline fare in 2014 was about $400, including fees. This was $50 lower than the average fare 15 years ago, adjusted for inflation.  And average fares in the U.S. today are 7 percent lower than they were a year ago.

The fragmented airline industry of 15 years ago not only produced higher fares for consumers. It led to $65 billion in airline losses over the next nine years, and 142,000 lost middle-class jobs. Strapped for cash, airlines were unable to invest in customer service and the flying experience suffered — consumers certainly felt the difference. For airlines, their employees and customers, the pre-consolidation period of 2000–2009 was a dismal period — the only ones who prospered were the bankruptcy lawyers.

Thanks to airline mergers, the large airlines are more competitive, more innovative and a better employers. Delta’s profits last year enabled over $3 billion in profit sharing and retirement contributions for our 80,000 employees. Industry employment has steadily increased since 2010.

The large airlines are investing billions of dollars in new aircraft and improved technology to improve the customer experience. Delta is on track this year to record more than 100 days without a single flight cancellation. And airline competition is alive and well — the number of airline seats in the domestic market is the highest since the recession, and the highest ever internationally.

Concentration may be a problem in some industries, but airline mergers brought financial stability to an industry which desperately needed it.  Thanks to consolidation, at Delta we are doing exactly what Secretary Clinton prescribes for American business — innovating, creating new products and investing in our workers.

Consumers, shareholders, and airline employees have all benefited. And it’s worth remembering that the airline industry’s 400,000 employees are also consumers — and only because their companies are finally doing well.

“But Secretary Clinton is wrong when she claims that prices are too high and that airline consolidation has been bad for consumers”, according to this article pertaining to setting the record straight which was posted five days later by Airlines for America — which is a trade group for the commercial aviation industry in the United States — of which Delta Air Lines will no longer be a member to be effective sometime next month. “In the last year, airfare has fallen 3.9 percent, and in August, it was down 7 percent year over year, making air travel one of the most cost-efficient travel options, in addition to being incredibly safe and convenient.”

Other snippets of interest from that article include that “in approving the last four airline mergers, the Department of Justice found that consumers benefit from strong networks, improved efficiencies and new and increased service” and that “airlines are reinvesting an average of $1.4 billion each month into the passenger experience. It’s because of these investments that consumers have options like Wi-Fi connectivity, device chargers, better in-flight entertainment and newer, larger planes. Airlines’ improving financial performance continues to bolster the overall U.S. economy as evidenced by the 21 straight months of employment gains and the more than $3.1 billion per month airlines are spending on employee wages and benefits.”

The article concluded with this statement: “The political convenience of criticizing our industry simply does not reflect the positive force we play in the global economy on a daily basis.”

Yet airlines contributed significantly more to Hillary Clinton than to any other presidential candidate. Does that mean that she is favored by the airlines; that she is simply the lesser of all evils; or both?


The information pertaining to contributions by airlines might be an indication as to whom they want to become the next president of the United States — if they had it their way…

…but I am not thrilled by any stretch of the imagination that some of the money you and I spend on travel is being used to support politicians — who interrupt our travel plans while they are busy campaigning — and their agendas.

If I had it my way, campaign contributions and lobbying would become obsolete. Electing a person based on how much money they have to spend should not be how the next president of the United States — or for any office representing constituents, for that matter — is chosen; but rather by whoever is the best person for the job, in my opinion. The right person should be someone who understands their constituents and be directly affected by the decisions they make, to which I referred in this article pertaining to one similarity between politics and frequent travel loyalty programs.

Although this analogy admittedly makes no sense, it seems similar to determining who writes the best weblog based on the amount of money earned from credit card affiliates.

If you are wondering about my political affiliation, I am an independent person; or — to put it another way — I “like” Democrats just as much as I “like” Republicans…

…meaning that with very few exceptions, I typically am not interested in — and do not like — politics in general…

…even including politics while working in an office for a company, for that matter…

Source: Department of State of the United States.

5 thoughts on “Despite Criticism, Hillary Clinton Received How Much From the Airlines in Campaign Contributions?”

  1. Greg says:

    Dumb question, but what is the fourth major airline? Delta, aa, United, …

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      My guess would be US Airways, Greg — although the article from back in October of 2015 could be referring to Southwest Airlines…

  2. John M. says:

    I’m looking for a candidate who will work to expand protections for the disabled under the Air Carrier Access Act. I never expected her to be the leader to accomplish that – her ties to the corporate world run deep – but I had no idea she was so well funded by the airlines.

  3. VG says:

    The sums mentioned are not significant compared to the flow of dirty, under the table money. Hillary may well receive the most traceable money, but her opponents may well be receiving far more untraceable, unreported money that does “not coordinate with the campaign.” We will never know, and that is the point.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      That is an excellent point, VG — and that we will never know what are the specific facts is part of the problem.

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