The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent reports that the Chamber of Commerce has issued yet another response to our story – at least the fifth different statement it has offered since we first reported yesterday morning on their foreign sources of funding. The Chamber’s latest effort is to engage in personal name-calling, referring to ThinkProgress as “a George Soros-funded, anti-business blog” that is “deceitful.” This smoke-and-mirrors response serves to obfuscate the basic facts which ThinkProgress revealed:
1) The Chamber acknowledges that it receives foreign sources of funding.
2) The foreign funds go directly into the Chamber’s general 501(c)(6) entity.
3) At least $300,000 has been channeled from foreign companies in India and Bahrain to the account.
4) The foreign sources include foreign state-owned companies, including the State Bank of India and the Bahrain Petroleum Company.
5) The Chamber’s 501(c)(6) entity is used to launch an unprecedented $75 million partisan attack ad campaign against Democrats.
Nothing the Chamber has said in response to our story refutes those basic set of facts. The right-wing business group claims that it has a “system” in place to ensure that money is not being used for illegal purposes, namely to influence U.S. elections. But the Chamber refuses to explain how that “system” works, and is instead demanding that the public simply trust-but-not-verify.
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?
As long as the Chamber is willing to continue issuing statements, here’s some questions we have that perhaps they can answer for us:
1) What is this “system” they claim to have in place to keep foreign money out of their election program?
2) Why do they refuse to even say whether or not the foreign money is going into the same general fund that is used to pay for their attack ads?
3) If the foreign money isn’t paying for “political activities,” then what is it paying for? Lobbying?