Earlier this week, a ThinkProgress investigation found that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been raising funds from foreign-based corporations to solicit funding for their general 501(c)(6) entity, and that entity runs approximately $75 million worth of partisan attack ads. This week alone, the Chamber ran nearly $10.5 million in attack ads in many of the most competitive elections in America. Republican candidates in the nine Senate and 22 House districts are benefiting from the Chamber’s support.
Now, Politico reports that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — perhaps in an attempt to distance itself from the fact that it operates as a wing of the Republican Party — will start airing aids backing conservative Democrats who voted against the recent health care overhaul:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is giving air support to a group of Democrats who opposed the White House-backed health care overhaul, according to a Republican source who tracks political advertising. The ads are boosting Reps. Frank Kratovil of Maryland, Glenn Nye of Virginia, Travis Childers of Mississippi, Jim Marshall of Georgia and Bobby Bright of Alabama. “When seniors look to Washington today, they wonder who will protect them,” one ad goes. “With Congress cutting $500 billion from Medicare to pay for their big-government health care bill, it’s good to know Frank Kratovil voted ‘no.”
While the Chamber ads may lead many to believe that the organization is taking on a more bipartisan stance, the truth is that it has a long history of allying itself closely to Republicans. A 2009 Think Progress analysis of “analysis of federal election contribution data compiled by the LittleSis project has found that the Chamber’s 116-member board of directors has given more than six times as much money to Republican candidates and committees ($4,741,747) as it has to Democrats ($778,282), with $1,074,697 flowing to corporate political action committees.”
The Chamber’s President and CEO Tom Donahue said that, in reaction to our story, he got his “guys together and said ‘OK, we’re going to put more money in.’”