Campaign Spending

The US Chamber of Commerce was #8 in outside spending by independent expenditure groups in 2012 with over $33 million spent. Despite the chamber's involvement, US Chamber-backed congressional candidates lost 36 out of 50 elections. In the 2010 congressional midterms, the first election since the Citizens United vs. FEC Supreme Court decision, the US Chamber spent $32 million, 93% of which went to Republican candidates. Also in 2010, two watchdog groups, and U.S. Chamber Watch, accused the US Chamber of criminal fraud and money laundering, alleging that the Chamber had illegally funneled between $12 million and $18 million in donations from a wealthy charitable foundation into their political activities. Public Citizen has also filed a complaint against the US Chamber of Commerce for failing to report campaign contributions to state attorney general and supreme court campaigns between 2000 and 2004. 

A BAGFUL OF CASH: How the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Orchestrated a Corporate Takeover of Government

July 16, 2013
Carl Gibson
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The US Chamber of Commerce-- a 101 year-old organization formed as corporations’ first union—is the chief agent behind Congress’ kowtowing to corporate interests, the Supreme Court’s favorability to corporations in its rulings, and presidents of both parties’ insistence on accommodating the wishes of multinational corporations at the expense of working-class people all over the world. This report outlines how the Chamber first formed, their blueprint for ultimate success as revealed in the confidential Powell Memo, how that blueprint has been realized in the 40 years since its writing, and the devastating effects of that agenda on small business.


CNET: SOPA's Most Aggressive Defender -- the US Chamber of Commerce

July 8, 2013
Declan McCullagh
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(Originally posted on November 30, 2011)

There is no more influential business lobby group in the world than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which boasts that its "core purpose is to fight for free enterprise" and "individual freedom."

Which is why the Chamber's unflagging--even unyielding--support of a controversial copyright bill loathed by Silicon Valley might come as something of a surprise. Not only do critics view the Stop Online Piracy Act as antithetical to the individual freedom the Chamber applauds, but the technology industry has contributed more to economic growth and free enterprise in the last decade than Hollywood has.

SCRIPPS WIRE SERVICE: Activists March 150 miles to protest against corporate lobby

May 28, 2013
Barbara Duarte
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WASHINGTON – Guillermo Santos, 10, walked 150 miles from Philadelphia to Washington bringing letters that his classmates wrote for President Barack Obama, asking him to stop budget cuts affecting public schools. He was with a group of activists who ended their six-day march Friday with a rally in front of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The protesters rallied against the chamber’s lobbying efforts in support of multinational corporations.

TALKING POINTS MEMO: US Chamber Racks Up Huge Wins From Current Supreme Court

May 10, 2013
Sahil Kapur
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Last term, the Chamber of Commerce was undefeated — it won every Supreme Court case it weighed in on. So far this term, it has secured favorable rulings in 6 out of 7 cases.

HUFFINGTON POST: Apple Quits Chamber of Commerce Over Climate Change

May 7, 2013
Jenna Staul
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(Originally published on May 25, 2011)

Apple is the latest corporation to exit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, citing its opposition to climate change legislation.

The New York Times reports that Apple's resignation is effective immediately. Catherine Novelli, vice president of worldwide government affairs at Apple, called the chamber's stance on climate change issues "frustrating" in aletter addressed to its president and CEO.

HUFFINGTON POST: Nike Quits U.S. Chamber Board of Directors over Climate Change

May 7, 2013
Jenna Staul
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(Originally published on November 30, 2009)

Nike will step down from its position on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's board of directors, reports Politico.

The company will not, however, drop its membership in the chamber entirely, saying that it plans to "advocate for climate change legislation" from within the organization.

Nike explained its decision to resign from the board of directors in a statement posted on the Natural Resources Defense Council Web site.

NYTIMES: Current Supreme Court Most Corporate-Friendly Since World War II

May 7, 2013
Adam Liptak
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NOT long after 10 a.m. on March 27, a restless audience waited for the Supreme Court to hear arguments in the second of two historic cases involving same-sex marriage. First, however, Justice Antonin Scalia attended to another matter.

POLITICO: Angry member groups shun U.S. Chamber of Commerce

May 7, 2013
Jeanne Cummings

(Originally published on December 7, 2010)

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is under fire from some local chambers over its hard-hitting $75 million ad campaign to elect a Republican House, with dozens of groups distancing themselves from the effort and a handful even quitting the national group in protest.

“We were getting pounded. We felt here, in central Pennsylvania, that the ads they were running were not professional ads,” said David Wise, president of the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County, which is considering dropping its national membership. “This was not a unifying event. It was divisive.”

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Exelon Leaves Chamber of Commerce Over Climate Policy

May 7, 2013
Keith Johnson
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(Originally published on September 28, 2009)

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s opposition to climate-change legislation has cost it another member. Exelon, one of the biggest utilities in the U.S., said this morning it will leave the business lobby because of the latter’s increasingly strident opposition to climate legislation.

The announcement came as chairman and chief executive John Rowe spoke to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy about the importance of jumpstarting investment in energy efficiency. The company said in a press release:

HUFFINGTON POST: Kick the Habit, Congress

May 6, 2013
Carl Gibson
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What if there was a really smart, knowledgeable, innovative guy who had dreams of curing cancer or writing a bestselling novel or recording an acclaimed album, but couldn't do any of the above because of a crippling cocaine addiction? Similarly, Congress' deadly addiction to corporate cash is the main reason Washington is unable to solve the myriad problems affecting our economy, environment and politics. If only we could help Congress kick the habit, our government could work for us again.

MSNBC: How the Chamber of Commerce conquered the Supreme Court

May 6, 2013
Zachary Roth
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In 1971, Lewis Powell, a well-connected corporate lawyer, wrote a confidential memo to an official at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “The American economic system is under broad attack,” Powell warned, by everyone from “New Leftists and other revolutionaries” to academics, the media, and politicians. It was time for the right, and the Chamber itself, to fight back. And among the tactics the Chamber should employ, Powell wrote, was an aggressive push to shift the federal courts in a pro-business direction.

NATION OF CHANGE: Join Operation Green Jobs, from May 18 to May 24

May 6, 2013
Carl Gibson
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An upcoming action this month is simultaneously taking on the unemployment crisis, the climate crisis, and the corporate corruption of Congress crisis all at once. And it needs your support.

THE ATLANTIC: Local Chambers Abandon U.S. Chamber of Commerce Amid Rightward Shift

May 6, 2013
Elspeth Reeve
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(Originally published on December 7, 2010)

Local chambers are angry with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over its aggressive ad campaign to elect Republicans in the midterms, with some groups taking the radical step of officially ending their affiliation with the national chamber, Politico's Jeanne Cummings reports. The $75 million push for GOP candidates was a sharp contrast to the traditional bipartisan approach of the U.S. Chamber.

WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL: US Chamber Affiliate Throws $10,000 At City Council Candidates

April 1, 2013
Dean Mosiman
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(Note: The Greater Madison Chamber of Comerce is an affiliate of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, which is the US Chamber of Commerce's legislative arm in Madison.)

(Originally published on March 31, 2013)

The Madison City Council will have a new look after Tuesday’s election. The big question: How new?

The council will have at least four new members with newcomers taking open seats, while 10 incumbents have opponents.

Campaigns in 11 races have attracted support, cash or both from groups from the leftist political party Progressive Dane to the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, which distributed more than $10,000 in the finance period ending March 18.

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES: US Chamber-Sponsored Senator Helped Monsanto Write Monsanto Protection Act

March 28, 2013
Connor Adams Sheets
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(Note: Monsanto is Sen. Roy Blunt's #6 campaign contributor. Blunt also received a $1,000 donation from the US Chamber of Commerce during his 2010 campaign. The group has also given him a 97% approval rating for his pro-corporate voting record.)

(Originally published on March 27, 2013)

BLOOMBERG: US Chamber Spent $33 Million on Losing 36 Congressional Races

March 18, 2013
Jonathan Salant
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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce went 14-36 in the 2012 congressional races where it ran political advertisements, rivaling the won-lost record of the 1962 New York Mets.

The BGOV Barometer shows that the chamber, the largest U.S. business lobby, compiled a winning percentage of .280 even with its record spending. The Mets went 13-37 in their first 50 games, a .260 percentage en route to a record 120-loss season.

PUBLIC CITIZEN: US Chamber Accused of Failing to Report Millions in Campaign Spending

March 18, 2013
Angela Bradbery, Barbara Holzer, Rachel Lewis, Jake Parent
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its affiliated Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) failed to report millions in taxable spending from 2000 to 2004 intended to influence state-level attorney general and supreme court races and federal races around the country, according to a Public Citizen complaint filed today with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Public Citizen also asked the IRS to investigate whether the U.S. Chamber and ILR, which are two separate legal entities, combined funds in a shared bank account to hide accurate reporting of investment or interest income for tax avoidance.

U.S. CHAMBER WATCH: 93% of U.S. Chamber 2010 Election Spending Went to Republicans

March 18, 2013
U.S. Chamber Watch
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In this report from U.S. Chamber Watch, most of $32 million spent in the 2010 congressional midterms went to Republicans, who ended up re-taking the House of Representatives and establishing a crushing gridlock that has lasted until the present day. The Chamber only endorsed one candidate for Senate, West Virginia's Joe Manchin, on whom it made no expenditures. Read the full report below:

NYTIMES: 45 Anonymous Corporate Donors Provided More Than Half of US Chamber's 2009 Funding

March 14, 2013
Eric Lipton, Mike McIntire, and Don Van Natta Jr.
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(originally published on October 21, 2010)

Prudential Financial sent in a $2 million donation last year as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce kicked off a national advertising campaign to weaken the historic rewrite of the nation’s financial regulations.

OPENSECRETS: US Chamber ranks #1 in lobbyist spending, #8 in electoral spending

March 5, 2013


ranks 86 of 20,968


$136,300,000 (2012)
$66,370,000 (2011)
ranks 1 of 4,352 in 2012


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