Rupert Murdoch's Media Empire Donates Top Dollars to Obama?

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation has the reputation for being cozy with political conservatives. However, a government watchdog, Sunlight Foundation, has unearthed new finance data that reveals Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp, has ties to both sides of the political aisle. Sunlight claims that the top U.S. recipient of campaign donations from the media empire isn’t a Republican.

It’s President Obama.

The top recipients of donations from News Corp from 1989 to 2010 have all been Democrats, according to the Sunlight Foundation. The top three are recorded as: Barack Obama ($368,669), Hillary Clinton ($298,525), and John Kerry ($157,901).

Overall, the donations have been evenly split between both parties: Democrats received 51 percent of donations while Republicans received 49 percent. The data is based on research from the Center for Responsive Politics, the National Institute for Money in State Politics, Taxpayers for Common Sense, the Project on Government Oversight, and The totals for News Corp’s contributions include money from employees of the organization and family members.

The fact that Obama is the top recipient probably comes as a shock to many because of the news organization’s highly publicized involvement with his political rivals. For example, Sarah Palin, the vice presidential candidate in 2008, is allegedly still under contract with Fox News as a paid political commentator. Fox News is owned by Murdoch and features a wide range of high profile conservative figures.

“It's been reported that Murdoch has close, and sometimes inappropriate, relationships with conservative politicians in the [United Kingdom],” wrote Sunlight reporter Ryan Sibley. “It's also commonly believed that he has close ties to what we consider conservative politicians here in the U.S. as well, but campaign-finance records suggest he has ties to both sides of the aisle.”

The President’s reelection campaign organization, Obama for America, was quick to refute these claims. They do not accept PAC donations and dismissed the idea that Obama has tight financial ties to News Corp.

"Access to a remote control would disprove this absurd suggestion," said spokesman Ben LaBolt in an e-mail, according to the National Journal. "We don’t accept money from PACs and haven’t accepted a dime from News Corp’s PAC. We had 3.95 million donors to the campaign in 2008."

In 2010, News Corp created media uproar when it was discovered that the company donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association. With the exception of 2008, the company has always donated money to the Republican Senatorial Leadership Council; the company’s PAC, News America Holdings, however, gave thousands to Democratic representatives like Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York during the 2009-2010 election year.

Murdoch testified before a British Parliament on Tuesday in regards to a controversy over an alleged phone hacking and bribery scandal.

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