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Posts Tagged ‘Chamber of Commerce’

Filmmaker Harry Hanbury considered making a series of short documentaries about the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling — the one that opened the way for corporations to spend an unlimited amount of money on political advertising — but he wondered if the name “Citizens United” would resonate with the viewing public. Instead, he decided that if he was going expose the corrupting influence of money in politics, he couldn’t find a better villain than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber certainly plays the heel very well. During this past election, it bragged about what amounted to a money-laundering scheme i.e. allowing corporations to funnel anonymous contributions to the Chamber, which in turn could spend the money on candidates who support its pro-Wall Street, Big Oil, anti-regulation agenda. That way, the Chamber could be the heavy, while the anonymous corporate donors could keep their names out of the news. Add to that a Think Progress investigation that raised concerns that a small portion of the $75 million that the Chamber was spending on electioneering may have been coming from foreign entities, which, if true, would be a serious federal election law violation.

Hanbury’s documentary series, “The Loaded Chamber,” is running on GRITtv. Part 1, posted above looks at the Chamber’s role raising secret donations. Part 2, which looks at the toothless Federal Election Commission’s lack of oversight, and Part 3, which shines a light on the Chamber’s foreign cash pipeline, are posted after the jump. Hanbury, who screened his work Wednesday night at Public Citizen, promises more installments are on the way.

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Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • $7 million: Amount Republican donor Bob J. Perry, who helped finance the Swift Boat Veterans campaign against presidential candidate John Kerry, has given to the conservative group American Crossroads for the upcoming election
  • $4.8 million: Amount given to American Crossroads by Robert Rowling, CEO of a company whose holdings include Omni Hotels
  • $15 million: Amount American Crossroads raised in 43 days
  • $24.1 million: Amount American Crossroads has raised this year

FEC should investigate American Future Fund, groups say

American Future Fund, a conservative nonprofit group pouring money into the 2010 midterm elections, appears to be violating campaign finance law, watchdog groups said in a complaint filed this week with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The agency should investigate whether American Future Fund must register as a political committee, which would make it subject to recordkeeping, reporting and disclosure requirements.

Stealth PACs database unveiled

With record amounts of secret money being funneled through nonprofit organizations to influence the upcoming elections, Public Citizen has created an Internet database to track the activity. The new Stealth PACs database, available here, tracks more than 100 groups that are working to influence the elections with large contributions from corporations, unions or wealthy individuals in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s January 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That ruling gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited amounts to influence elections (more…)

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Today’s Flickr Photo:

Flickr photo by tcktcktck

If you read one thing today…

It is T-minus 11 days away from Election Day, but one contentious race is being covered far less than the Tea Party revolution. It’s the battle of the corporations in California over Proposition 23, a measure that would suspend California’s landmark greenhouse gas law until the state’s unemployment level dropped. Both Big Oil and the developing green industries are dishing out the major moolah to sway voters on this referendum to the tune of $16 million.

The Washington Post’s article features a quote from the outgoing Governator that pretty much says it all.

“Does anyone really believe that these companies, out of the goodness of their black oil hearts, are spending millions and millions of dollars to protect jobs?” Arnold Schwarzenegger said recently. “This is like Eva Braun writing a kosher cookbook. It’s not about jobs at all, ladies and gentlemen. It’s about their ability to pollute and thus protect their profits.”

Overheard

In other campaign finance news, the corporation arguably spending the most on the upcoming midterm elections, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has been pouring enormous gobs of money into highly contested races. And not so surprising, it has not disclosed where it’s getting the big bucks from this year.

Of the Chamber’s spending, John Motley, a former lobbyist for the National Federation of Independent Business said:

“They’ve raised it to a science, and an art form,” he said of the chamber’s pitches to corporate leaders that large contributions will help “change the game” in Washington.

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Today’s Flickr Photo:

Flickr photo by the brothers trust

If you read one thing today…

Like something out of Edgar Allan Poe, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is knocking, gently knocking on our nation’s schoolhouse doors.  The deep-pocketed, “what do you mean, climate change”  business association that funnels untold millions of corporate dollars into swinging the elections now wants to influence young minds – specifically middle school minds – with their corporate-driven mad science on global warming.

How could a huge lobbying organization access our children with their pollution-friendly propaganda? By partnering with the established and wholesome educational publisher, Scholastic, Inc., producer and distributor of a wide range of educational products.

From Politico’s report:

Chamber officials maintain that there is no “hidden agenda” behind the question or the educational outreach effort in general. But given the current political climate surrounding the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, the group’s direct involvement in public school education is expected to make environmentalists and like-minded progressives uncomfortable.

Overheard

Once upon a time in the land of the free and the home of the brave, many families across the country struggled to keep up with their mortgage payments and defaulted. The Big Bad Banks swooped in and said they had to foreclose. “Isn’t there anybody who can help us?” the families thought. The government, some answered. But the head of the Treasury Department said no. Here is Timothy Geithner’s fairytale, as told by Dean Baker, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research:

[I]f the government imposes a foreclosure moratorium, it will lead to chaos in the housing market and jeopardise the health of the recovery. For the gullible, which includes most of the Washington policy elite, this assertion is probably sufficient to quash any interest in a foreclosure moratorium. But those capable of thinking for themselves may ask how Geithner could have reached this conclusion.

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Stunning Statistics of the Week:

Amount the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent on lobbying in 2009: $120 million

Amount Chamber spent daily to defeat health care reform in the weeks before its passage: $800,000

Amount Chamber plans to spend to influence the fall congressional elections: $50 million

Senate Republicans block DISCLOSE Act; Public Citizen urges reconsideration

Last week in the U.S. Senate, partisan politics prevailed over the public interest as all (more…)

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce likes to claim that regulation stifles the economy and prevents businesses from creating jobs. But it seems like the president of the Chamber, Tom Donohue,  jumped the gun in complaining about regulations after the BP oil catastrophe: no proposed regulatory fixes have taken serious shape.  Donohue said, “I am not too much of an advocate of doing the surgery before the diagnosis.”

Yesterday, Obama announced some recommended steps he and his administration were planning to take in response to a review he ordered. Among them were the sensible steps of suspending planned drilling off the coast of Alaska, canceling lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia, and suspending – for just six months – new deepwater drilling.

Considering the Obama administration’s deference to BP on many aspects of the effort to stop and clean up the spill, Donohue’s comments verge on non sequitur.  At this point, the Obama administration appears to be at no risk of over-regulating.

The real question is whether efforts taken by the administration and Congress will (more…)

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chamberThe U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a launched a new marketing campaign to sell Americans on the idea that low taxes, less government regulation and unfettered trade is the thing that’s going to return this country to economic prosperity. I’m sure there’s a bridge somewhere in Brooklyn they’d like to sell us, too. To listen to Chamber President Tom Donohue, what this country really needs is a return to the days of . . . George W. Bush.

It seems the Chamber and its friends on Wall Street have very short memories. As Public Citizen President Robert Weissman said today, they mock us by handing out obscene salaries and bonuses, just a year after the American taxpayer bailed them out to the tune of trillions in cash and supports.

As troubling as the scale and audacity of these payments may be, what is most appalling is that they are, in large measure, the result of Wall Street resuming exactly the same speculative gambling and consumer rip-off strategies that crashed the financial system in the first place.

As the U.S. House Financial Services Committee debates creating a strong watchdog agency to prevent destructive and unfair financial practices, it’s hardly a surprise that one of the loudest opponents is, you guessed it, (more…)

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