Unholy Alliance of US Chamber and Foreign Money Could Destroy Democracy
October 6, 2010
(ChattahBox Political News)— The partisan right-wing business lobbying group, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, headed by Thomas Donohue, who has waged a war against President Obama, is up to no good. The Citizens United decision unleashing a wave of special interest money that is having an impact on the mid-term election cycle, has in a short time, fundamentally transformed the way national elections are funded. And not in a good way. Overnight, a slew of shadowy non-profit entities have sprouted up to act as conduits for the hundreds of millions of unlimited special interest money, primarily used to support Republicans, by funding attack ads against Democratic candidates. And we have no way of knowing who is behind the attack ads or how much they are spending, because the law doesn’t require disclosure. Worse, there is no way of stopping foreign governments and other foreign entities from pouring money into these shadowy 501(c) groups to rig the results of our national elections. It’s a frightening prospect that could destroy our democratic process. And a report by Think Progress reveals that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a 501(c)(6) group, is already depositing unknown amounts of foreign cash in its general fund, used to fund its planned $75 million in election spending mostly in support of Republican candidates.
Since Think Progress’ eye-opening report, the Chamber admitted it takes in foreign money, but denied the money was used illegally to fund attack ads in national elections.
We are apparently expected to take the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at its word.
“We have a system in place” to prevent foreign funding for the Chamber’s “political activities,” Chamber spokesperson Tita Freeman told Politico. But there is no way to verify or confirm the veracity of the Chamber’s “system” or its claim that no foreign money is used in its partisan political attack ads.
And as Think Progress points out, “Money is fungible. So, when the Chamber or other wealthy corporate interest groups spend foreign corporate donations on general operating expenses, that frees up other money in their operating budget to be spent on attack ads or other expenditures.”
The Chamber, receiving continued scrutiny after the Think Progress report broke, has now changed its tactic by attacking Think Progress, as an anti-business liberal group out to get them, calling the blog “a George Soros-funded, anti-business blog” that is “deceitful.”
But the Chamber’s attacks on Think Progress don’t refute the basic facts:
1) The Chamber acknowledges that it receives foreign sources of funding.
2) The foreign funds go directly into the Chamber’s general 501(c)(6) entity.
3) At least $300,000 has been channeled from foreign companies in India and Bahrain to the account.
4) The foreign sources include foreign state-owned companies, including the State Bank of India and the Bahrain Petroleum Company.
5) The Chamber’s 501(c)(6) entity is used to launch an unprecedented $75 million partisan attack ad campaign against Democrats.
If this development doesn’t frighten you, it should. Our Democratic process is now literally for sale. And there are plenty of buyers: big oil, big business, big health insurance companies and even foreign governments.
The entire Think Progress investigation is worth reading.
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons/Raul654/Capitol Building,Washington DC, May 7, 2005.