Seeing how money talks

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.


  1. Jockaira says

    The Timken Company provides bearings (ball, roller, tapered, needle, pin, etc) for virtually every piece of equipment with moving parts on the planet. It’s big and has a pre-eminent position in the industrial market. It might not hurt Timken too much to forgo the pleasure of dealing with the Russians and their railroad dreams but the reality is that there would be other international companies very willing to step in and fill that void.
    The money that Timken gives our politicians is not a great factor in this and our politicians realise this in recognising that Timken is important to the US’s standing in the world economic community and to long-range goals of US foreign policy. No doubt a work-around will be developed that allows the US to snarl while protecting its interests.
    It is also important to realise that the more tightly bound other nations are to the world economic community, the easier it is to keep them in a peaceful mode. So the US-Ukrainians lose this one demonstration of their political might and probably save their native homeland from Russian occupation.

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