Pressure has been mounting on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce since a ThinkProgress investigation published Tuesday revealed that the right-wing business group may be using donations from foreign corporations to bankroll its general account — the same account that is being used to launch an unprecedented $75 million attack ad campaign against progressive candidates. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and others have called for an FEC investigation into the Chamber, and numerous media outlets have pressed the group for answers. Meanwhile, the Chamber continues to stonewall. Today, while stumping for Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), President Obama referenced the investigation, warning that “groups that receive foreign money” are a “threat to our democracy”:
OBAMA: Just this week, we learned that one of the largest groups paying for these ad regularly takes in money from foreign corporations. So groups that receive foreign money are spending huge sums to influence American elections. And they won’t tell you where the money for the ads come from.
So this isn’t just a threat to Democrats. All Republicans should be concerned. Independents should be concerned. This is a threat to our democracy. The American people deserve to know who’s trying to influence their elections. And if we just stand by and allow the special interests to silence anybody who’s got the guts to stand up to them, our country’s going to be a very different place.
During his January State of the Union address, Obama warned that the Supreme Court’s recent Citizens United decision “will open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our election.” And in his weekly address in September, Obama warned again, “Foreign-controlled corporations seeking to influence our democracy are able to spend freely in order to swing an election toward a candidate they prefer.” His prediction, widely mocked by conservatives, has unfortunately proven prescient.