WPP affiliates linked to right-wing US Senator

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The Independent Online

Individuals and lobby groups linked to the advertising giant WPP have emerged as some of the biggest backers of Jeff Sessions, one of America's most hardline Republican senators.

Mr Sessions, the junior senator from Alabama, was denied a judgeship during Ronald Reagan's administration after allegedly making racist remarks to a colleague, which he says were taken out of context.

He is one of the leaders of opposition to President Barack Obama's attempt to bring universal healthcare coverage to the US, and is a vocal supporter of the hard-right Tea Party movement.

The Centre For Responsive Politics, the non-partisan research group based in Washington, lists WPP as the sixth biggest donor for the 2005-2010 electoral cycle to Mr Sessions. Its website, www.opensecrets.org, stresses that the organisations listed as donors do not donate themselves. But it says the money comes "from the organisation's political action committee, its individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals' immediate families. Organisation totals include subsidiaries and affiliates."

Of the WPP-affiliated total of $35,900 (£22,666), some $34,400 comes from individuals linked to WPP, with a further $1,500 from political action committees (PACs).

Among the WPP-connected individuals donating to Mr Sessions are several employees of lobbying firms owned by WPP, which is run by Sir Martin Sorrell.

Opensecrets lists 15 different lobbyists as "contributors to Jeff Sessions and his Leadership Political Action Committee representing WPP Group".

It lists US lobbying expenditures of $840,000 in total for WPP.

A WPP spokesman said: "None of these contributions have come from group funds. They all represent amounts given by individuals who may or may not be employed by one of the group's operating companies involved in US political lobbying or indeed in other areas of the group's business. It is obviously an individual's choice as to how they spend their money."