Chamber Of Commerce Is Spending Millions Supporting Candidates It Pledged To Defeat

U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce — which spent nearly $33 million in 2010 to elect a Republican Congress — strongly backed the 2011 Budget Control Act which averted a national debt default and instituted automatic cuts that will go into effect unless Congress reduces federal spending. But while the Chamber’s CEO Tom Donohue reportedly warned Congressional Republicans at the time “we’ll get rid of you,” if they did not agree to a debt ceiling increase, the group has spent millions supporting Republicans who voted against the bipartisan agreement:

1. Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO). The Chamber spent more than $692,000 on “independent expenditures” helping Akin in his challenge to Sen. Claire McCaskill (D), with ads attacking both McCaskill and his primary opponent former Missouri State Treasurer Sarah Steelman (R). The group has not spent any money in support of Akin since his comments that victims of “legitimate rape” are unlikely to become pregnant. Akin explained his opposition to the deal, saying it “fails to address the problem at hand, and it threatens to severely degrade our national defense with a trillion dollars in cuts to our military.”

2. Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY). The Chamber has spent at least $185,000 in “independent expenditures” attacking her opponent, former Rep. Dan Maffei (D), and praising Buerkle. The freshman Congresswoman explained her vote against the deal in a statement, saying “There were some good aspects to the bill, but this version also creates several new problems. At the end of the day, I was not satisfied that all my questions and concerns had been answered as to potential negative effects of this bill on the people in my district.”

3. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV). The Chamber spent more than $489,000 on “independent expenditures” helping Heller in his re-election bid against Rep. Shelley Berkley (D), with ads endorsing his re-election and attacking her record. Heller said he saw “no strategy” in the compromise and would have preferred a “big deal.”

4. Rep. Connie Mack IV (R-FL). The Chamber spent over $3.8 million on “independent expenditures” helping Mack in his challenge to Sen. Bill Nelson (D), with ads attacking Nelson and urging voters to defeat him. Mack said he didn’t think the American people wanted a deal or “gimmicks.”

5. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT). The Chamber has spent more than $1.3 million on “independent expenditures” helping Rehberg in his challenge to Sen. Jon Tester (D), with ads attacking Tester and encouraging voters to defeat him. Rehberg called the deal “little more than business as usual for Washington.”

The Chamber has also spent at least $3.3 million on “independent expenditures” helping Mitt Romney by attacking Barack Obama. While Obama signed the compromise, Romney said he “thought it was a mistake on the part of the White House to propose it” and “a mistake for Republicans to go along with it.”