If you hadn’t heard, the increasingly partisan U.S. Chamber of Commerce has become one of the biggest funders of attack ads against Democrats, thanks to generous contributions from Rupert Murdoch, and elsewhere…
The largest attack campaign against Democrats this fall is being waged by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a trade association organized as a 501(c)(6) that can raise and spend unlimited funds without ever disclosing any of its donors. The Chamber has promised to spend an unprecedented $75 million to defeat candidates like Jack Conway, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jerry Brown, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), and Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA). As of Sept. 15th, the Chamber had aired more than 8,000 ads on behalf of GOP Senate candidates alone, according to a study from the Wesleyan Media Project. The Chamber’s spending has dwarfed every other issue group and most political party candidate committee spending. A ThinkProgress investigation has found that the Chamber funds its political attack campaign out of its general account, which solicits foreign funding. And while the Chamber will likely assert it has internal controls, foreign money is fungible, permitting the Chamber to run its unprecedented attack campaign. According to legal experts consulted by ThinkProgress, the Chamber is likely skirting longstanding campaign finance law that bans the involvement of foreign corporations in American elections.
(click to continue reading Think Progress » Exclusive: Foreign-Funded ‘U.S.’ Chamber Of Commerce Running Partisan Attack Ads.)
and the USCC is trying to wiggle past any critical news coverage with obfuscation:
In fact, neither the [Washington] Post nor the [New York] Times “refudiated” the ThinkProgress report. Both merely quoted Chamber of Commerce officials who only discussed the limited “AmCham” funds, only one of several avenues for foreign funding of the Chamber. Both articles recognized that there is no outside oversight of the Chamber’s money flow. “Money, however, is fungible,” the New York Times editorial board explained, “and it is impossible for an outsider to know whether the group is following its rules.” As the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent writes, “The Chamber still hasn’t addressed in any detail the core allegation against it.”
Only Gillespie has made the “charge of illegal criminal activity.” Although it is illegal to solicit foreign funds for electioneering, the essential fact is that there are no disclosure requirements that provide oversight to know whether or not the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is obeying the law. The Chamber successfully lobbied to kill the DISCLOSE Act, which would have closed the loopholes opened by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
This all stems from the Citizens United case, of course, which is going to upend politics even more in coming elections, tilt the balance even more towards the wealthy. Pathetic, but we are rapidly becoming a third world country, with crony capitalism, an eviscerated middle class, etc. etc., yadda yadda.
Think Progress has a nice visual aid of what the USCC’s policies translate into: attack ads on Democrats.
I tried to find a list of the member companies of the USCC; I’d like to know them so I could conduct my own personal boycott, but they keep this information quite secret. As if they are embarrassed, or something. Remember, not long ago, Apple, Inc. resigned from the USCC over the USCC’s wrongheaded climate change stance. Who is left? I assume corporations like ExxonMobil, Home Depot, News Corporation, but who else? Oh yeah, even Exelon quit the USCC last year.