Think Progress has done some good work on the CoC funding. Guess what they found?
In recent years, the Chamber has become very aggressive with its fundraising, opening offices abroad and helping to found foreign chapters (known as Business Councils or “AmChams”). While many of these foreign operations include American businesses with interests overseas, the Chamber has also spearheaded an effort to raise money from foreign corporations, including ones controlled by foreign governments. These foreign members of the Chamber send money either directly to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, or the foreign members fund their local Chamber, which in turn, transfers dues payments back to the Chamber’s H Street office in Washington DC. These funds are commingled to the Chamber’s 501(c)(6) account which is the vehicle for the attack ads...And then:
Here’s how it works. Regular dues from American firms to the Chamber can range from $500 to $300,000 or more, depending on their size and industry, and can be used for any purpose deemed necessary by the Chamber leadership. For example, the health insurance giant Aetna has reported that it paid $100,000 in annual dues to the Chamber in the past. But for specific advocacy or advertising campaigns, corporations can hide behind the label of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and give additional money. Last year, alongside their regular dues, health insurance companies like Aetna secretly funneled up to $20 million to the Chamber for attack ads aimed at killing health reform (publicly, health insurance executives claimed they supported reform). Last week, Politico reported that News Corporation, the parent company of Fox News, gave an extra $1 million to the Chamber for its election season attack campaign.Think Progress has a follow-up:
After consulting with the Chamber of Commerce’s chief lobbyist Bruce Josten, the New York Times and the Washington Post publish articles today largely dismissing concerns about the Chamber’s foreign sources of funding as a means to raise money to air political attack ads.Understandably, the Chamber of Commerce also focuses exclusively on the AmChams:
Both the Times and the Post articles fail to appreciate the scope of the Chamber’s foreign sources of funding, focusing instead too narrowly on independently-run, foreign-based “AmChams.”
AmChams are independent organizations, created to represent American companies in overseas markets, and they do not fund U.S. Chamber political programs. Collectively, AmChams pay nominal dues to the Chamber – approximately $100,000 total across all 115 AmChams. Under our budgeting system, the nominal funds received from AmChams and business councils are used to support our international programs.And so on. Think Progress points out:
In a statement provided to Sargent, the Chamber reveals that foreign-based “AmChams pay nominal dues to the Chamber — approximately $100,000 total across all 115 AmChams.” But “AmChams” are only a small piece of the puzzle.Thanks, of course, to the lobbying efforts of the Chamber of Commerce and other pro-business elements of the right side of the political aisle, we may never know how much foreign money has made its way into the Chamber's anti-Sestak attack ads.
Most of the Chamber’s foreign sources of funds come from large multi-national corporations who are headquartered abroad, like BP and Siemens. Direct contributions from foreign firms also are accepted under the auspices of the Chamber’s “Business Councils” located in various foreign countries. The Chamber states that only “a relative handful [of its 300,000 members] are non-U.S. based companies.” Relative handful? How many is that? And how much are they contributing?
The Right was all up in arms when questions like these were raised in 2008. Look out! Lotsa scary foreigners are buying the election for Obama!! Ooo scary! Now? Not so much.