Watchdog Group Calls on Candidates to Disavow Controversial Chamber of Commerce Attack Ads

Chamber spends $10.5 million this week on advertising campaign in 22 House and nine Senate races; Funding may include money from foreign corporations

Washington, DC – The nonpartisan, nonprofit campaign watchdog group Campaign Money Watch today called on 31 federal candidates to join its effort to demand the U.S. Chamber of Commerce answer questions about the use of its foreign corporate dues in political advertising.

Evidence surfaced this week that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has received foreign corporate funds into its general treasury, which was first reported by Think Progress. The Chamber uses that general fund to support its $75 million political program, including nearly $10.5 million in attack ads it placed this week alone in many of the most competitive elections in America.

“The Chamber has admitted to taking foreign corporate money, and they’re spending up to $75 million to elect a pro-special interest Congress,” said David Donnelly, director of Campaign Money Watch. “Republican candidates in the nine Senate and 22 House districts who are benefiting from this money should disavow it until such time the Chamber can verify, beyond a doubt, that no foreign corporate money is funding their partisan attack ads.”

In addition, the Chamber’s acceptance of foreign corporate dues, including some from government-owned enterprises, indicates that it represents more than just the interests of American-based companies in Washington, D.C.

“No candidate – Republican, independent, or Democrat – should be elected by foreign money, and that’s why we call on these candidates to stand up today to disavow the Chamber’s help,” continued Donnelly. “No candidate should sit quietly by and accept help from TV advertising that is furthering the special interest agenda of the Chamber. That agenda now appears to include operating as a political outpost for foreign corporate interests in Washington.”

Details of the Chamber’s overseas funds through affiliates in India, Egypt, Bahrain, Russia, and other countries, have come to light as the Chamber is pouring money into politics. But the Chamber has yet to provide details regarding what safeguards, segregated accounts, or practices they use to ensure foreign funds are not paying for domestic political advertising.

The organization is faxing letters to each of the beneficiaries of the spending this afternoon. A copy of the letter and the list of Chamber expenditures and targets are available at www.campaignmoneywatch.com/chamber.

Campaign Money Watch also announced it would continue to track the Chamber’s independent spending and will send additional letters to candidates who benefit from future spending.