Following widespread criticism of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce after a ThinkProgress investigation revealed the group raised foreign money to support the same account that it uses to fund its partisan attack ads, more and more politicians are calling on the Chamber to fully disclose its funding. Many on the left, including Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Reps. Steve Driehaus (D-OH) and Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH), have called for a formal investigation into the Chamber’s finances, as have some on the right, including Ohio’s 18th congressional district Republican nominee Bob Gibbs. Ron Johnson, the Republican Senate nominee in Wisconsin, has also demanded the Chamber reveal its sources of funding.
Now, two more Republicans have added their voices to the bipartisan call for greater transparency. In Ohio’s 15th congressional district, where Kilroy is locked in a tight race with Republican nominee Steve Stivers, the Chamber has been instrumental on the airwaves, pumping over $250,000 into the district during the last week alone. ThinkProgress caught up with Stivers after a recent debate to ask him if he was comfortable with this outside spending, particularly given the foreign sources of money. After falsely claiming that our report had been debunked, Stivers conceded that he “absolutely” thinks “everyone should be forced to disclose” where their funding comes from:
TP: One of the big issues recently has been the issue of outside spending and especially here in the 15th district. Are you comfortable with, for instance it came out the Chamber of Commerce is receiving foreign funding in their funds but they’re spending $250,000 in the district. Are you comfortable…
STIVERS: Those ads have nothing to do with me, I can’t really control them. But that claim has been debunked by the New York Times, CBS, and multiple sources. In fact, in the Columbus Dispatch, it was getting debunked today. I don’t know what the Chamber’s doing and I don’t know anything about their sources of money, but those ads really are not my ads so I’m not coordinating with them.
TP: But given that we don’t know the sources of money, do you think that groups like them should be forced to disclose who their donors are?
STIVERS: I think everybody should be forced to disclose. In fact, the bill that went through Congress left out unions and other powerful groups. Sunlight is good for everybody and I think disclosure makes a lot of sense.
TP: So you would like to see groups on all sides forced to disclose who their donors are?
STIVERS: Absolutely, absolutely. Sure, yeah.
Ken Buck, the Republican Senate nominee in Colorado, also came out in favor of transparency in a recent debate. When asked whether outside groups should be forced to disclose where their funding comes from, Buck agreed, saying it was “important that people know who is paying for the ads.”
Do you know other Republicans or Democrats who have called on the Chamber to disclose its funding sources? Email ThinkProgress and let us know.