There has been a lot of righteous indignation expressed in the US Congress and White House about how terrible it is when Russia interferes in the affairs of other nations and how it must be punished for its actions in Ukraine and Crimea, including the imposition of sanctions.
But at the height of that fervor, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the Timken company that is based in this area had completed a big joint venture with Russia to expand its railway system. But this area has a fairly large community that traces its roots back to Eastern Europe, and the Ukrainian segment was outraged and demanded from their congresspeople that the deal be stopped.
But there has not been a peep from the members of Congress. This is not surprising since Timken is a generous contributor to Republican causes and the company employs many people here.
Congress members were mostly silent Friday on pleas from Cleveland’s Ukrainian community to stop a politically connected Ohio company from setting up a new joint venture in Russia.
Timken’s founding family members, executives and political action committee provide a fountain of campaign money for Ohio and national Republicans. The company also spent $713,000 on lobbying in Washington last year, according to Senate records.
“Timken’s role as a large campaign donor for many Republican lawmakers in the Ohio congressional delegation far outweighs the concerns of a few thousand Ukrainian descendants in Ohio,” said David B. Cohen, a political science professor at the University of Akron. “It’s politics. Timken is a Fortune 500 company and if you are a member of Congress that relies on campaign contributions from a company like that, you cannot afford to alienate them. As a member of Congress, you never bite the hand that feeds you if you can help it.”
So the local Ukrainian community is getting a hard lesson in realpolitik. When it comes to action, what matters in politics is how much money you can give to politicians, not what they say.