Defenders of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have adopted a new line of attack in trying to defend the Chamber against ThinkProgress’s report that detailed how the Chamber may be using foreign money to fund political attack ads in the United States. In recent days, Karl Rove, former RNC chair Ed Gillespie, and Bruce Josten, the Chamber’s chief lobbyist, have all parroted the line that since the Center for American Progress doesn’t disclose its donors, there is hypocrisy afoot and the ThinkProgress report must somehow be questionable. Watch a compilation:
Just to be clear, the Center for American Progress is not involved in running political ads like the Chamber is. CAP released a statement today explaining the difference:
Neither the Center for American Progress nor the Center for American Progress Action Fund electioneer or run candidate campaign ads. If CAPAF ever does run such ads, we will disclose the donors funding that activity. 501c4′s are not required to disclose donors and we do not see a disclosure problem with 501c4′s, like CAPAF, that continue to operate in the traditional role of a public education and issue advocacy organization; nor have we criticized the Chamber for its traditional work in support of its mission. Our concern is with organizations like the Chamber and others who have taken advantage of the Citizens United ruling to behave like a PAC by running massive amounts of candidate campaign ads without disclosing the source of funding for the ads. There is a long standing legal requirement for PACs to disclose donations, the Chamber and others are acting like PACs but without the disclosure.
As Greg Sargent writes at the Plum Line, “The comparison to the Center for American Progress is absurd, because it does not and has never run campaign ads…[and] even so, Rove’s assertions about these groups are still absurd, because we already know what their issue positions and agendas are.”
Rove and company are attacking the messenger with a false comparison, thereby sidestepping the central issue: will the Chamber reveal the well-heeled special interests behind their unprecedented political ad campaign?