What Fresh Hell Is This?

October 11, 2010

Pat Toomey And The Chamber of Commerce

I am sure you've seen a few Chamber of Commerce ads in this political season. The ones I've seen all seem to revolve around Congressman Joe Sestak.

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.

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.”
Understandably, the Chamber of Commerce also focuses exclusively on the 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.

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?
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.

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.

Go figure.


Heir to the Throne said...

The Right was all up in arms when questions like these were raised in 2008.
And yet there was no investigation into disabling AWS for Credit Cards on Obama's website. So the Left has no room to talk.
BTW, even funnier are progressives calling for Chamber of Commerce to open their book while citing the Center for American Progress and Media Matters whose the books are kept closed.

Heir to the Throne said...

Correction AVS for Credit Cards.
More at
Obama's hypocritical propaganda on money in campaigns

Blue Number 2 said...

What about the fact that the CoC lobbied FOR both TARP and the stimulus bill and now are running ads criticizing politicians who voted FOR it.


Nick said...

I'm so sick of seeing these ads, and now they are appearing on Youtube of all places! All of these attach ads are making me not want to vote for anybody at all!

--- Nick from Sonoma Grille 947 Penn Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15222-3802

Heir to the Throne said...

B #2
Maybe because TARP was a bait and switch.
TARP was intended to purchase toxic assets and take them off of
the balance sheets of financial institutions. However, Treasury Secretary Paulson opted to use an
alternative provision of the EESA when it became apparent that the valuation of the toxic assets
was too difficult and that a purchase program would take too long to have an immediate impact.
Consequently it was decided that the TARP funds would be used to inject capital into struggling
or systemically important financial institutions

PridePress said...

Not surprised at all. I can't imagine how any PA resident truly familiar with Toomey can vote for him. He makes Santorum look like a moderate.

EdHeath said...

HTTT, you are saying TARP was a bad deal for banks? You are saying that direct injections of capital was not something the banks would want?

You do understand that the fact that the toxic assets were too complicated to value because they originally treated all the mortgages in the bundle as good even though huge numbers of them contained faulty documentation, obscured repayment provisions, etc, etc. It was the banks that were issuing these mortgages and them bundling them (yes Freddie/Fannie got into the Sub Prime game after 2006, but Freddie/Fannie were not the biggest player and anyway any government control of Freddie/Fannie was coming from the Bush administration). So TARP (initiated in the Bush administration) was essentially rewarding the banks for bad behavior. And yet the CoC is blasting the Obama administration because Congress is passing some weak financial regulations.

And as far as the AVS thing goes, I would have to take serious time to research that, but surely even you can see the difference between a campaign and taking the entirety of the Social Security program for a full 40 years and instead of getting money from the payroll tax, borrowing it and dumping that debt on our children. Surely you can see a difference?

Heir to the Throne said...

but Freddie/Fannie were not the biggest player and anyway any government control of Freddie/Fannie was coming from the Bush administration)
Which is why the Democrat blocked oversight.
Fannie, Freddie and John, at odds in 2006

Fannie and Freddie, private corporations created and sponsored by Congress to lower the cost of mortgage capital, quintupled in size between 1995 and 2004, as they pioneered the practice of selling bundled mortgages in the form of securities. ...
Did Democrats block the reforms? More or less. They preferred a pared-down bill, and so did not support Hagel's.

entirety of the Social Security program for a full 40 years
Forgot Al Gore's lockbox?
You mean the IOUs sitting in the US Treasury as Congress spent any SS surplus revenue.

EdHeath said...

Since the post was on Toomey and privatization of Social Security, I will address your last point first. Referencing Al Gore’s lock box is idiotic and nonsensical, since Gore wasn’t elected (because the Republican’s stole the election from the American people). But you are absolutely right that Congresses, Republican and Democrat, have raided the Social Security trust fund for its surpluses for decades (I first heard about it as a college freshman in 1979). I don’t know whether they borrowed to make the trust fund whole, but regardless the demographics are catching up with us. Which doesn’t change the fact that Toomey’s plan will take away the source of revenue for traditional Social Security (in an increasing fashion) for decades before those who have private accounts are ready to retire.

As far as Freddie and Fannie are concerned, this Politifact article offers a different view. Apparently Republicans aren’t/weren’t serious about financial reform or looking out for American taxpayers and homeowners since they didn’t pass the Hagel bill when they controlled the House, the Senate and the White House. Now, Freddie and Fannie were originally set up to give lower income home owners a better mortgage rate after they had bought a home by buying their mortgage from the bank who had offered it and repackaging it at a better rate. However, over the last 16 years Republican Congresses had changed Fannie and Freddie’s mission, telling them they needed to make a profit instead of serving the needs of the poor (just like Republicans gutted banking regulations in 1999).

I brought up Freddie and Fannie because I thought there was a good chance you would go to the lie that every conservative goes to when assigning blame for the financial crisis, that it was all Freddie, Fannie, Jimmy Carter and Clinton. I stipulated that Freddie and Fannie played a role, but you seem to be unaware that there was a financial crisis in 2007, and what was happening in that crisis. By the way, you totally ignored my question: was the TARP somehow bad for banks? Are not many making record profits now (the ones that didn’t go under)?

Blue Number 2 said...

So HTTT, sounds like the CoC should be upset with Paulsen not the individual legislators who voted the way tohe CoC was lobbying.

Heir to the Throne said...

Ed found this from the NY Times
Barney Frank – when in trouble, just lie

The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago.

Under the plan, disclosed at a Congressional hearing today, a new agency would be created within the Treasury Department to assume supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that are the two largest players in the mortgage lending industry….

Maybe GOP had other priorities to battle the democrats on and did not want to revisit lost battles.