Earlier this month, ThinkProgress investigated the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and found fundraising documents soliciting money from foreign businesses for the same 501(c)(6) account the Chamber is using to wage an unprecedented $75 million dollar partisan attack campaign. ThinkProgress documented evidence of at least 80 foreign companies giving at least $885,000 to the Chamber largely from two countries alone. The Chamber has acknowledged that it accepts foreign funds for its 501(c)(6), but refuses to say how much and which funds they use for their partisan attack ads. While speaking to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for a trade event with Israeli businesses, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) chastised the Chamber for killing billions of dollars in private sector jobs by helping to lobby against clean energy climate reform. He then finished his remarks, in front of a body of Chamber executives and lobbyists, by confronting the Chamber for accepting foreign money without providing “proper transparency and disclosure”:
WAXMAN: An event like this conference today is an appropriate use of contributions from Chamber members overseas. Spending such money on an election in any country would be inappropriate. In this country it would also be illegal. I urge the Chamber to be transparent, to provide full disclosure on the contributions it is making in this election cycle. Without proper transparency and disclosure it is hard for the Chamber to be a role model for corporate citizenship in America and around the world.
A secret memo obtained by ThinkProgress shows that David Chavern, the second most powerful lobbyist at the Chamber, quietly met with Koch Industries and executives from over a dozen other oil and coal companies to plot the 2010 midterm elections last summer. Chavern also met with Tom Petrie, a Bank of America VP who specializes in Bank of America’s oil investments (Bank of America is one of the largest American shareholders of BP).
Update Yesterday, during his debate with GOP opponent Robert Hurt, Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) slammed the U.S. Chamber and Hurt for opposing disclosure. Referencing the Chamber’s support of outsourcing policies, Perriello vigorously denounced the Chamber for accepting foreign money, then running ads in support of pro-outsourcing candidates like Hurt. Watch it: