On Face the Nation this morning, host Bob Schieffer grilled both White House advisor David Axelrod and GOP strategist Ed Gillespie on the millions of dollars being secretly funneled by Wall Street and the oil industry to defeat Democratic candidates this November, and particularly the role of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Gillespie, along with Karl Rove, is the mastermind behind American Crossroads, a group tied to the Chamber which also funnels corporate money into attack ads. As first revealed by a ThinkProgress report, the Chamber solicits funds from foreign corporations — including state-owned oil companies — that go into the same general account that funds their $75 million electioneering campaign. Using a neologism coined by Sarah Palin, Gillespie argued that the Washington Post and the New York Times had “completely refudiated” the report:
GILLESPIE: The Washington Post and The New York Times both completely refudiated this charge of foreign money being funneled through the Chamber of Commerce into American campaigns. The charge of illegal criminal activity, that was based on a blog posting that the President of the United States repeated, that was put on a website that’s affiliated with Center for American Progress, a liberal nonprofit advocacy group that does not disclose its donors.
In fact, neither the Post nor the Times “refudiated” the ThinkProgress report. Both merely quoted Chamber of Commerce officials who only discussed the limited “AmCham” funds, only one of several avenues for foreign funding of the Chamber. Both articles recognized that there is no outside oversight of the Chamber’s money flow. “Money, however, is fungible,” the New York Times editorial board explained, “and it is impossible for an outsider to know whether the group is following its rules.” As the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent writes, “The Chamber still hasn’t addressed in any detail the core allegation against it.”
Only Gillespie has made the “charge of illegal criminal activity.” Although it is illegal to solicit foreign funds for electioneering, the essential fact is that there are no disclosure requirements that provide oversight to know whether or not the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is obeying the law. The Chamber successfully lobbied to kill the DISCLOSE Act, which would have closed the loopholes opened by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Earlier in the program, Axelrod explained:
This issue of this special interest spending is very important. It’s never happened before, that organizations are are spending this kind of money. And the American people need to ask why is the oil industry, Wall Street and others spending this kind of money to defeat candidates and elect others in this sort of secretive way? You know, that is a threat to our democracy.