Chamber Revs Its Money Machine

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The US Chamber of Commerce is reloading.

On the heels of the Chamber’s midterm election victories, where it helped elect a raft of conservative, free market candidates, the lobbying behemoth is hitting up its members anew for more cash to fight new proposed regulations here in Washington. As the Center for Public Integrity’s Peter Stone reports on Wednesday, the Chamber latest fundraising push targets big banks, health insurers, and oil companies in an effort to drum up more money for lobbying, advertising, and even lawsuits when necessary.

The crux of the Chamber’s latest pitch is all too familiar. A “tsunami of regulations” by the Obama administration amounts to the “biggest single threat to job creation” in the US, as Chamber chairman Tom Donohue put it recently. With that in mind, the Chamber’s goals include defanging the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, battling new greenhouse gas reduction rules from the Environmental Protection Agency, and influencing how President Obama’s historic health care reform bill is implemented in the coming months.

So has the Chamber had any success with its cash call? Sure looks like it. At least one major oil corporation has cut a six-figure check to the Chamber, Stone reports, while deep-pocketed private equity funds including KKR and the Blackstone Group are leaning toward funding the Chamber’s anti-regulation war chest on financial issues.

Here’s more from Stone:

Also targeted are several major health insurers that last year kicked in much of the $86 million that was funneled through America’s Health Insurance Plans to the Chamber. That money was spent on a huge but unsuccessful advertising effort to kill health care legislation. A health industry source says that he’s not certain how the new Chamber pitch is going with that sector.

Josten told the Center that “it’s natural you’re going to solicit people who have expressed and supported your previous efforts.” Josten said that the effort is “getting some receptivity,” noting that the threat of new regulations “is not lost on the business world.”

The Chamber’s fresh initiative will include beefed-up lobbying, new advertising, online projects, and litigation to thwart regulations it opposes. “We’ll look for opportunities to challenge regulations,” Josten explained. Some of these challenges are going to be “legislative, some are going to be regulatory and some will be in the courts.”

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TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

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