Original Link: http://www.thinkprogress.org/2010/10/13/chamber-foreign-funded-media/
By Lee Fang
Last week, ThinkProgress published an exclusive story about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s foreign fundraising operation. We noted the Chamber raises money from foreign-owned businesses for its 501(c)(6) entity, the same account that finances its unprecedented $75 million dollar partisan attack ad campaign. While the Chamber is notoriously secretive, the thrust of our story involved the disclosure of fundraising documents U.S. Chamber staffers had been distributing to solicit foreign (even state-owned) companies to donate directly to the Chamber’s 501(c)(6).
We documented three different ways the Chamber fundraises from foreign corporations: (1) An internal fundraising program called “Business Councils” used to solicit direct, largely foreign contributions to the Chamber, (2) Direct contributions from foreign multinationals like BP, Siemens, and Shell Oil, and (3) From the Chamber’s network of AmCham affiliates, which are foreign chambers of the Chamber composed of American and foreign companies. The Chamber quickly acknowledged that it receives direct, foreign money, but simply replied, “We are not obligated to discuss our internal procedures.” Instead of providing any documentation or proof to demonstrate foreign money is not being used for electioneering purposes, the Chamber launched an aggressive media strategy to first, attack ThinkProgress with petty name-calling and second, to confuse the media by highlighting the Chamber’s relatively minor AmCham fundraising, which the Chamber says (also without documentation) totals “approximately $100,000” from all 115 international AmCham chapters. The Chamber and the media largely ignored ThinkProgress’ revelation about the Chamber’s direct foreign fundraising to its 501(c)(6) used for attack 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)