New Report Uncovers Stealth Strategy by US Chamber of Commerce to Influence Elections: Examines Documents in Washington State Attorney General Race
WASHINGTON - July 12 - A major new report released today by the Center for Justice & Democracy finds that U.S. Chamber of Commerce provides substantial financial and strategic assistance to local front groups to influence state elections, including funding major media buys to smear local candidates.
The report, "The Secret Chamber - The Inner Workings of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Hijacking of an Election," draws from the cache of newly-released papers and deposition testimony uncovered in connection with litigation surrounding the failed 2004 election bid of Deborah Senn for Washington State Attorney General. Senn, a former pro-consumer insurance commissioner, was viciously attacked in an advertising blitz, which contributed to her defeat. It was only later revealed that the ad campaign was funded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its Institute for Legal Reform. Litigation arose after the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission concluded that the ads violated state election law and the participation of the Chamber and the ILR was revealed.
According to author Laurie Beacham, "This report shows that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is involved in an organized, aggressive, covert and nasty effort to infiltrate local election campaigns. While the Chamber tries to disassociate itself from the negative campaigning conducted by its local front groups, it remains actively involved in elections, pursuing all the trimmings of a full-out political campaign."
"Most people believe the Chamber is an apolitical and innocuous business support organization. But it is anything but," said Joanne Doroshow, Executive Director for the Center for Justice & Democracy. "This group has its hands in just about every level of electoral politics, dipping into the very foundations of our democratic process. It is important that this effort, which has largely stayed under the radar, become known to the public,"