Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Think Progress Reveals U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foreign Donations

Democrats have recently been attacking conservative-backed organizations, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to reveal their funding, claiming that such organizations take in donations from foreign corporations and are using commingled funds to pay for partisan attack ads during this year's midterm elections.  As can be expected, conservative organizations pushed back claiming they are doing things by-the-book (probably the same way British Petroleum was doing things by-the-book) and that Democrats are being a bunch of hypocrites.  While I find them all to be hypocrites, conservatives have more of a reason to disclose their information because they are the ones who effectively destroyed campaign finance and disclosure reforms, all the while claiming they are the ones for transparency in government.

Conducting some damage control, Chamber representatives descended upon the media attacking the original story released by Think Progress, doing so on none other than Fox News, which had recently made news for contributing $1 million to the Chamber for it's ad campaign.  If that isn't a blurring of journalistic ethics, then I don't know what is.

The newest Think Progress article by Lee Fang goes into detail about the lies spread by the Chamber, as well as just what foreign companies the Chamber receives its money from and where that money goes - into the same nonprofit corporation the Chamber uses to fund its political ads.
Yesterday, the Chamber’s chief lobbyist Bruce Josten, who has been spoon-feeding much of the media distortions about our report, went on Fox News (whose parent company donated $1 million to the Chamber recently for its ad campaign) to again try to dilute the issue by dissembling about the Chamber’s fundraising and membership. “We have probably 60 or so foreign multi-national companies in our membership that we have had for decades, many of which have been in the United States for half a century or a century,” said Josten.

The Chamber is being deceptive. In addition to multinational members of the Chamber headquartered abroad (like BP, Shell Oil, and Siemens), a new ThinkProgress investigation has identified at least 84 other foreign companies that actively donate to the Chamber’s 501(c)(6). Below is a chart detailing the annual dues foreign corporations have indicated that they give directly to the Chamber (using information that is publicly available from the Business Council applications and the Chamber’s own websites).

Again, all of these annual dues are collected in the same 501(c)(6) the Chamber is using to run partisan attack ads. The data above reflects information from public sources, and the Chamber likely has many more foreign corporations as dues-paying members — but refuses to divulge any of the funders for their ad campaign. Unfortunately, many reporters in the traditional press covered the Chamber story, but missed the entire point of our reporting. Most reporters (from the New York Times, McClatchy, the Associated Press, etc.) never contacted ThinkProgress, instead opting to only interview Chamber officials.
I definitely see something shady going on here, and I just want to point something out - when people like Glenn Beck or Newt Gingrich make accusations against left-leaning organizations, they typically offer very few facts.  Fang's article is pretty damning if you ask me...

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