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The Chamber’s Bagful of Cash

How the Chamber of Commerce serves the Republican Party
by Lou Dubose

Sep 29, 2016 | Politics


Is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, like the NRA, an ancillary to the Republican Party? Consider.

At this point in the 2016 election cycle, the nation’s most powerful corporate lobby has spent $9,013,702 in support of Republicans and $7,639,325 in opposition to Democratic candidates.

The largest recipient of chamber cash has been Senator Pat Toomey, the Pennsylvania Republican in a dead heat with his Democratic challenger Katie McGinty. The chamber has contributed $1,908,300 to Toomey, and put $1,797,950 into a campaign attacking McGinty.

In New Hampshire, the chamber has spent $1,560,150 in an effort to thwart Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan’s challenge to Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, who is running slightly behind her Democratic challenger in the polls.

In an effort to save the seat of Arizona Senator John McCain, the chamber has contributed $1,050,150 to his campaign.

In the Nevada Senate race to replace retiring Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid, the chamber has put $665,587 into a campaign targeting former Democratic state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, and contributed $1,234,487 to her opponent, Republican Congressman Joe Heck. (The chamber’s modest investment in Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson’s effort to hold off Russ Feingold, $375,150 supporting Johnson and the same amount in opposition to Feingold, suggests that chamber check writers have already concluded the race is a loss for them and a win for Democrats.)

In Alabama, the chamber has contributed to Republican Rep. Martha Roby’s defense of her safe Republican seat against Tea Party challenger Becky Gerritson.

Chamber of Commerce spending in 2014 was also aimed at electing Republicans, with, for example, $5,637,144 invested in Thom Tillis’s successful campaign against Democratic Senator Kay Hagan and $3,701,491 to defeat progressive Democratic Senator Mark Udall in Colorado.

The chamber provided Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell $1,569,620 in 2014, and in the money-to-burn category dumped $2,054,549 into Scott Brown’s risible (and losing) Senate campaign in New Hampshire.

In this issue of The Washington Spectator, Mark Dowie documents the transformation of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce from a defender of Main Street business values into a muscular and ruthless interest group representing a small cabal of corporate CEOs and congressional Republicans. Its path to power was paved by corporate cash spent electing Republicans to Congress, where its lobbyists routinely get what they have paid for.

As the Chamber’s President Tom Donohue has said: “People seem to listen to you more when you’ve got a bagful of cash.”

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