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Exclusive: Chamber Receives At Least $885,000 From Over 80 Foreign Companies In Disclosed Donations Alone

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"Exclusive: Chamber Receives At Least $885,000 From Over 80 Foreign Companies In Disclosed Donations Alone"

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Last week, ThinkProgress published an exclusive story about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s foreign fundraising operation. We noted the Chamber raises money from foreign-owned businesses for its 501(c)(6) entity, the same account that finances its unprecedented $75 million dollar partisan attack ad campaign. While the Chamber is notoriously secretive, the thrust of our story involved the disclosure of fundraising documents U.S. Chamber staffers had been distributing to solicit foreign (even state-owned) companies to donate directly to the Chamber’s 501(c)(6).

We documented three different ways the Chamber fundraises from foreign corporations: (1) An internal fundraising program called “Business Councils” used to solicit direct, largely foreign contributions to the Chamber, (2) Direct contributions from foreign multinationals like BP, Siemens, and Shell Oil, and (3) From the Chamber’s network of AmCham affiliates, which are foreign chambers of the Chamber composed of American and foreign companies. The Chamber quickly acknowledged that it receives direct, foreign money, but simply replied, “We are not obligated to discuss our internal procedures.” Instead of providing any documentation or proof to demonstrate foreign money is not being used for electioneering purposes, the Chamber launched an aggressive media strategy to first, attack ThinkProgress with petty name-calling and second, to confuse the media by highlighting the Chamber’s relatively minor AmCham fundraising, which the Chamber says (also without documentation) totals “approximately $100,000” from all 115 international AmCham chapters. The Chamber and the media largely ignored ThinkProgress’ revelation about the Chamber’s direct foreign fundraising to its 501(c)(6) used for attack ads.

Yesterday, the Chamber’s chief lobbyist Bruce Josten, who has been spoon-feeding much of the media distortions about our report, went on Fox News (whose parent company donated $1 million to the Chamber recently for its ad campaign) to again try to dilute the issue by dissembling about the Chamber’s fundraising and membership. “We have probably 60 or so foreign multi-national companies in our membership that we have had for decades, many of which have been in the United States for half a century or a century,” said Josten.

The Chamber is being deceptive. In addition to multinational members of the Chamber headquartered abroad (like BP, Shell Oil, and Siemens), a new ThinkProgress investigation has identified at least 84 other foreign companies that actively donate to the Chamber’s 501(c)(6). Below is a chart detailing the annual dues foreign corporations have indicated that they give directly to the Chamber (using information that is publicly available from the Business Council applications and the Chamber’s own websites):

Company Location Money/Level
4G Identity Solutions Hyderabad, India $7,500
A2Z Maintenance & Eng. Gurgaon, India $7,500
Amarchand Mangaldas Mumbai, India $15,000
Apollo Hospitals Chennai, India $7,500
Arshiya International Mumbai, India $15,000
Astonfield Management Mumbai, India $7,500
AXA Group Paris, France $7,500
Avantha Group India $7,500
Avasarala Technologies Bangalore, India $7,500
AZB & Partners Mumbai, India $15,000
Azure Power New Delhi, India $7,500
Bharat Forge Pune, India $15,000
Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP Toronto, Canada $7,500
Brookfield Asset Management Toronto, Canada $7,500
Cameco Corporation Saskatoon, Canada $7,500
Credit Suisse Zürich, Switzerland $15,000
Devas Multimedia Bangalore, India $15,000
DSK Legal Bombay, India $7,500
Dua Associates Hyderabad, India $15,000
Educomp Solutions Ltd Delhi, India $7,500
Essar Group Mumbai, India $7,500
Fox Mandal Little India $7,500
GMR Bangalore, India $15,000
Hindalco Group, The Mumbai, India $15,000
Hinduja Group, The London, UK $15,000
Hindustan Construction Company Mumbai, India $15,000
HSBC London, UK $15,000
ICICI Bank Mumbia, India $7,500
Infosys Bangalore, India $15,000
Infotech Enterprises Hyderabad, India $7,500
International SOS Assistance Singapore $7,500
Ireo Management Gurgoan, India $15,000
ITC Group Kolkata, India $15,000
J. Sagar Associates Mumbai, India $15,000
J.B.Boda Insurance Mumbai, India $7,500
J.M. Baxi & Co. Mumbai, India $15,000
Jagran Prakashan Kanpur, India $7,500
Jindal Power New Delhi, India $15,000
Jubilant Organosys Noida, India $7,500
Kimaya Energy New Delhi, India $15,000
Kotak Mahindra Mumbai, India $7,500
KPIT Cummins Pune, India $7,500
KPMG Amstelveen, Netherlands $15,000
Lahmeyer International Frankfurt, Germany $7,500
Larsen & Toubro Mumbai, India $15,000
Leela Hotels Bengaluru, India $7,500
Linklaters LLP London, UK $7,500
Luthra & Luthra New Delhi, India $15,000
Macquarie Capital Sydney, Australia $15,000
Majmudar & Company Mumbai, India $7,500
NIIT Technologies Delhi, India $15,000
Nishith Desai Associates Mumbai, India $15,000
Novartis Basel, Switzerland $15,000
Oberoi Group Dehli,India $7,500
Patni Americas Mumbai, India $15,000
Punj Lloyd Gurgaon, India $15,000
QuEST Global Singapore $7,500
Ranbaxy, Inc. Gurgaon, India $7,500
Reliance Industries Mumbai, India $15,000
Reliance Communications Navi Mumbai, India $7,500
Rolta Mumbai, India $7,500
Sanofi-Aventis Paris, France $7,500
SKP Crossborder Consulting Mumbai, India $7,500
SNC Lavalin Montreal, Canada $7,500
State Bank of India Mumbai, India $15,000
Sun Life Financial Toronto, Canada $7,500
Tata Group Mumbai, India $15,000
Tatva Legal India $15,000
Urenco Investments Slough, UK $7,500
Trilegal India $7,500
Walchandnagar Industries Mumbai, India $7,500
Welspun Mumbai, India $7,500
Wipro Bangalore, India $15,000
TAIB Bank* Dubai $20,000
Aluminum Bahrain B.S.C Kingdom of Bahrain $10,000
Bahrain Financial Harbour Holding Company Kingdom of Bahrain $10,000
Gulf Air Kingdom of Bahrain $10,000
Midal Cables Kingdom of Bahrain $10,000
The Nass Group Kingdom of Bahrain $10,000
Bahrain Maritime & Mercantile International Kingdom of Bahrain $5,000
The Bahrain Petroleum Company Kingdom of Bahrain $5,000
First Leasing Bank Kingdom of Bahrain $5,000
Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company Kingdom of Bahrain $5,000
TOTAL   $885,000

Again, all of these annual dues are collected in the same 501(c)(6) the Chamber is using to run partisan attack ads. The data above reflects information from public sources, and the Chamber likely has many more foreign corporations as dues-paying members — but refuses to divulge any of the funders for their ad campaign. Unfortunately, many reporters in the traditional press covered the Chamber story, but missed the entire point of our reporting. Most reporters (from the New York Times, McClatchy, the Associated Press, etc.) never contacted ThinkProgress, instead opting to only interview Chamber officials.

Here’s how the Chamber’s unusual foreign fundraising operation works. According to this internal Chamber staff chart obtained by ThinkProgress, the Chamber has an international division devoted to promoting free trade and related policy issues. U.S. Chamber staffers, based here in Washington, D.C. with offices in the Chamber’s building at 1615 H Street, create bilateral “Business Councils” fundraising programs to solicit money from foreign corporations in Korea, Egypt, Brazil, Bahrain, India, and other places. For instance, the Chamber’s US-Egypt Business Council directs potential members to wire their checks to the US Chamber of Commerce. The application also notes that checks should be marked “ATTN: Leila Vossoughi.” Vossaoughi is a regular staffer at the Chamber. Promotions to join the Chamber have included promises that foreign firms obtain “access to the US Chamber of Commerce and everything that it does” and pledges to help the foreign firms promote free trade policies in America. All of the staffers who manage the Business Councils work directly for the Chamber. These Business Councils are nothing like the Chamber’s AmChams, which are foreign affiliates of the Chamber composed of American and foreign businesses abroad. Business Councils are based in the Chamber and even hosted on the U.S. Chamber’s website domain. Bylaws from the US-Bahrain Business Council confirm that the money the U.S. Chamber raises from these applications — which welcome foreign-owned businesses — goes into the Chamber’s 501(c)(6). Click below to see one such application:

application

Again, the information above documents the fact that foreign donations go directly to the Chamber without any intermediary, for instance, through an “AmCham” or another Chamber affiliate organization. The same Chamber account funded by these foreign corporation is running a $75 million attack campaign. In fact, a Chamber spokesperson acknowledged the foreign funds go into the Chamber’s general account. Any responsible reporter should have to note these direct donations given to the Chamber, which the Chamber has refused to discuss. Or, reporters should contact us directly if there is any confusion about our report.

ThinkProgress intern Riley Waggaman contributed to this post.

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