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Commerce Bancorp- one of the nation's fastest growing financial services companies-has also become the biggest private political benefactor New Jersey has seen in a century. The bank's far-reaching political clout and regular campaign contributions-more than $1.6 million in the last five years-have helped Commerce obtain more no-bid government banking, bond and insurance contracts in the state than any of its competitors, including much larger banks such as Wachovia and Fleet.
This investigation found that Cook County Commissioners say they have little power as individuals, and have no defined, specific responsibilities. Many say most of the items that come before them are routine "housekeeping" matters. The board passed every one of the thousands of items that came before it in the last three years, and lobbying and back-room compromises often took the place of open debate and negotiation. The commissioners also defend practices of county leaders hiring friends and political associates.
The Wall Street Journal examines the competition that the announced tax cuts have kindled among lobbyists in Washington. The reporters find that, "eager to enlarge their share, competing business blocs nay set off bidding war." The story sheds light on the effort of some of the biggest U.S. companies to "unify around one or two big cuts to get the largest possible share," and finds that "unity among disparate corporate interests is so far proving harder than business leaders would like." The story includes a sidebar with information about the top five donors to the House Ways and Means Committee members, as well as to the Senate Finance Committee members.