U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is one of the top 15 dark money groups examined by Issue One’s new “Dark Money Illuminated” report that has been spending millions of dollars in our elections since Citizens United without publicly disclosing their donors. Dark money groups frequently operate as attack dogs during campaigns, criticizing candidates from the shadows. Dark money groups also often push the envelope in terms of how much political spending they can engage in without running afoul of rules that prohibit them from existing primarily to influence elections. By masquerading as a trade association or “social welfare” nonprofit, dark money groups avoid the mandatory donor disclosure rules that would come with registering as a political committee whose primary purpose is to influence elections.
Here’s what Issue One’s year-long “Dark Money Illuminated” investigation revealed:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce raised
between January 2010 and December 2016.
Issue One identified
donors to this dark money group.
These donors collectively accounted for
of its funding.
Issue One found 20 donors that gave at least $1 million since January 2010:
Dow Chemical Co.: $13 million
Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce: $5.5 million
Aetna Inc.: $5.3 million
Crossroads GPS: $5.3 million
Chevron Corp.: $4.5 million
Merck & Co., Inc.: $4.4 million
Microsoft Corp.: $2.8 million
Qualcomm Inc.: $2.7 million
Prudential Financial, Inc.: $2.3 million
American Electric Power Company, Inc.: $2.1 million
Anthem, Inc. (formerly Wellpoint, Inc.): $2 million
Association of American Railroads: $2 million
Southern Company: $2 million
3M Co.: $1.6 million
Intel Corp.: $1.5 million
Exelon Corp.: $1.3 million
MetLife, Inc.: $1.3 million
PepsiCo, Inc.: $1.3 million
Union Pacific Corp.: $1.2 million
Kentucky Opportunity Coalition: $1 million
Note: These numbers have been rounded to two significant figures. Click here to see more details about these contributions — and all identified donors to this group — in Issue One’s exclusive database of dark money donors, and click here to learn more about how these contributors were identified.
About the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Founded in 1912, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce grew out of an address by President William Taft to a delegation of more than 700 business leaders at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., who had been assembled by Charles Nagel, Taft’s secretary of Commerce and Labor.
More than 100 years later, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranks as one of the nation’s largest and most powerful lobbying groups, with an ornate headquarters in Washington, D.C., just a block from the White House.
A trade association organized under Section 501(c)(6) of the tax code, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce mostly endorses Republican candidates, although it occasionally supports business-friendly Democrats. The group says it represents more than 3 million businesses across the country and has a membership of approximately 300,000.
While the U.S. Chamber of Commerce does not disclose its donors, nearly 100 blue-chip companies have voluntarily disclosed their own dues payments to the trade association, according to research by Issue One.
Thomas Donohue, the former president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, has served as the president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce since 1997.
Donohue — along with the heads of the Business Roundtable and National Association of Manufacturers — has urged companies to reject calls for additional transparency measures about their political spending, criticizing such efforts as plots to “name-and-shame” companies “into either curtailing or eliminating their involvement in public policy debates.”
- 60 Plus Association
- American Action Network
- Americans for Job Security
- Americans for Prosperity
- Americans for Tax Reform
- American Future Fund
- Crossroads GPS
- League of Conservation Voters
- National Association of Realtors
- National Rifle Association
- Patriot Majority USA
- Planned Parenthood Action Fund
- VoteVets Action Fund