Obama’s war on the Chamber of Commerce; Update I: No letting up by the White House; Update II: Source of unfounded Chamber of Commerce rumor

Posted on October 10, 2010


No doubt by now you’ve heard the latest war cry from the left, led by the White House:  the Chamber of Commerce (CoC) is using foreign money to “buy” our elections in favor of Republicans.  While there is no proof whatsoever behind this claim, it hasn’t stopped the left from pushing the message into the mainstream in hopes of getting the media to bite.  Unfortunately for them, it isn’t working.

The claim is so off base that even the reliable parrot of White House talking points, the New York Times, won’t go there:

In two campaign stops Thursday, Mr. Obama invoked what he portrayed as a specific new example, citing a blog posting from a liberal advocacy group as he teed off on a longtime adversary, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, over its political spending.

“Just this week, we learned that one of the largest groups paying for these ads regularly takes in money from foreign corporations,” Mr. Obama said. “So groups that receive foreign money are spending huge sums to influence American elections.”

But a closer examination shows that there is little evidence that what the chamber does in collecting overseas dues is improper or even unusual, according to both liberal and conservative election-law lawyers and campaign finance documents. (emphasis mine)

In fact, the controversy over the Chamber of Commerce financing may say more about the Washington spin cycle — where an Internet blog posting can be quickly picked up by like-minded groups and become political fodder for the president himself — than it does about the vagaries of campaign finance.

Organizations from both ends of the political spectrum, from liberal ones like the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the Sierra Club to conservative groups like the National Rifle Association, have international affiliations and get money from foreign entities while at the same time pushing political causes in the United States.

The Times article also quotes the Center for Responsive Politics which reports that as well as the groups above, there are 160 Political Action Committees (PACs) which have been set up by corporations based overseas who are also involved in the campaign process.  There is a federal ban to keep any foreign money out of our political system, and these PACs and corporations are supposed to make sure they abide by the rules. The Chamber of Commerce says it has a system to keep them on the right side of the ban, and there is no evidence to the contrary.

As many commentors and blogs have pointed out, it is somewhat naive and hypocritical of President Obama to imply that the CoC is using foreign money in support of Republicans without tweaking the public’s memory that President Obama, then candidate Obama, had numerous questionable donations to his presidential campaign in 2008.  As Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit  pointed out at the time, and Michael Barone of the Washington Examiner points out now:

This looks like a matter of projection, since it’s well documented that the 2008 Obama campaign did not put in place address verification software that would have routinely prevented most foreign donations. In effect they were encouraging donations by foreign nationals.

Mr. Barone’s article also has quotes from both his own paper and the Washington Post about the Obama campaign not doing their due diligence to prevent foreign donations, almost invitingly so.

Regardless, the President and his devotees claim that the Chamber of Commerce is funding Republican campaigns with foreign money despite the fact that there is absolutely no proof. Does that stop them? Of course not, because the Democrats are on the ropes this political season and when it comes to political speech, it’s free and not confined to the facts.

So, is the Chamber of Commerce even donating to some Republican campaigns this season?  You be they are.  Are they donating ONLY to Republicans?  Nope.  In fact, the Los Angeles Times just reported that the Chamber of Commerce has been buying ads supporting some Democrats:

 The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been a powerful ally for Republican candidates in this year’s midterm campaigns, quietly moved across the aisle this week and bought ads touting nearly a dozen Democratic House members.

The “voter education” spots are running on behalf of 10 members of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, many of them in the South, including Georgia’s Jim Marshall, Virginia’s Glenn Nye, Maryland’s Frank Kratovil, Mississippi’s Travis W. Childers and Alabama’s Bobby Bright. (emphasis mine)

It seems that the Chamber has no problem supporting Democrats as long as they’re fiscally conservative.  Which, of course, is why so many Dems are excluded from any of the Chamber of Commerce’s donations.  The vast majority of Democrats running are NOT fiscally conservative in the least as borne out by their passing of the enormous stimulus plan and other borrowed spending in the last 2 years.  Record spending resulting in monstrous record deficits for 2009 and 2010 are not fiscally conservative and won’t warrant the Chamber’s support.
 
But the unfounded accusations, hypocrisy, and the proof of bipartisan support by the CoC are easily swept aside by President Obama and the left.  It is, after all, a campaign season and as we have seen so often, it’s not the proof that counts, it’s the accusation.
 
UPDATE I:
 
Despite the reservations some Democrats may have about continuing to repeat the unfounded allegations against the Chamber of Commerce,  President Obama shows no signs of stopping.  In fact, The Hill reports the opposite: he’s doubling down.   This is even though both the New York Times and now,USA Today confirms there is no basis to the charges.  
 
There is no moderation from this White House.  When in doubt, they go further to the left.
 
UPDATE II:
 
This from Big Journalism.  The source of the accusations about the Chamber of Commerce using “foreign money” is from the same cretin who tried to smear the TEA party protest. 
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