U.S. Chamber, Which Raises Thousands From Foreign Countries, Now Spends Secret Money On Ron Johnson’s Behalf

Oct 05, 2010

Media Reports Reveal How U.S. Chamber’s Money Laundering Scheme Mixes Money From Bahrain, Egypt; Supports Johnson’s Extreme Agenda That Ships Jobs Overseas

MADISON – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has become the latest outside group to air TV attack ads on Ron Johnson’s behalf, a campaign that media reports indicate is being fueled in part by foreign contributions.

According to Think Progress, “the Chamber funds its political attack campaign out of its general account.”  Here’s how the Chamber raises foreign money to fund its attack campaign, the largest of any organization this year:

In recent years, the Chamber has become very aggressive with its fundraising, opening offices abroad and helping to found foreign chapters (known as Business Councils or “AmChams”). While many of these foreign operations include American businesses with interests overseas, the Chamber has also spearheaded an effort to raise money from foreign corporations, including ones controlled by foreign governments. These foreign members of the Chamber send money either directly to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, or the foreign members fund their local Chamber, which in turn, transfers dues payments back to the Chamber’s H Street office in Washington DC. These funds are commingled to the Chamber’s 501(c)(6) account, which is the vehicle for the attack ads:

Media reports also indicate the Chamber shares Ron Johnson’s support for shipping American jobs overseas.

 The Chamber has repeatedly sent out issue alerts attacking Democratic efforts to encourage businesses to hire locally rather than outsource to foreign counties. The Chamber has also bitterly fought Democrats for opposing unfettered free trade deals.[Think Progress 10/5/10]

Aside from taking $5,000 from Koch PAC for his campaign, Johnson has benefited from $1.3 million in TV ads from outside groups, while the National Republican Senatorial Committee has reserved another $464,000 of advertising time. Among the sleazy outside groups spending on Johnson’s behalf:


The Committee for Political Truth

$600,000 spent to date

Agenda: Unfair Trade Deals That Ship Jobs Overseas

Launched by a North Carolina Republican operative, the shadowy out-of-state organization has fought to hide the source of the group’s money. National Public Radio reported:

“But there’s at least one group that doesn’t want us to know anything. It’s in court, suing to strike down the disclosure requirements that tell us who runs ads near an election, how much gets spent and, sometimes, who puts up the cash. (National Public Radio “What They Don’t Want You To Know” 11/7/08)

With a reputation for running false, negative attack ads, even the organization’s very name is misleading. The organization’s attorney, James Bopp, defended Johnson campaign consultant Darrin Schmitz before the Wisconsin Supreme Court for a false, misleading ad Schmitz ran attacking justice Louis Butler. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported:

In a recent Wisconsin ethics complaint case, Bopp defended the “right to mislead voters in campaign ads,” saying,” I don’t think misleading is something good, (but) it can’t be sanctioned.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 16, 2009)

FactCheck.org called their 2008 ad “absurdly wrong,” WISC-TV (Madison) said their ad is “misleading.” (Channel 3-Madison- “Reality Check”)


American Action Network

$531,000 spent to date

Agenda: Unfair Trade Deals That Ship Jobs Overseas, Health Care Repeal

Formed by Republicans such as former Bush political operative Karl Rove, Nixon political operative Fred Malek and Norm Coleman, the organization is funded and guided by extremists with a history of intolerance and funded by millionaires who back the Bush agenda of unfair trade deals that ship jobs overseas and cutting taxes for the rich.

The organization supported unfair trade deals such as the Panama and Columbia Trade Deals, even though unfair trade deals have led to at least 64,000 Wisconsin workers losing their jobs.  [AAN, accessed: 4/20/10]

Johnson has taken the same stand as AAN on trade, saying in July that unfair trade deals “have actually been successful for our economy.”[WPR  7/26/10]

Malek, the organization’s chairman, was denied a post by the U.S. Senate because as a member of the Nixon Administration he killed a lawsuit on blatantly political grounds that sought to end discriminatory hiring practices at the University of Texas. Malek resigned from the RNC in disgrace in 1988 after he was exposed for playing a role in the Nixon administration’s plans to discriminate against members of the administration of Jewish descent.

Another Republican affiliated with the group, Haley Barbour, spoke at the white supremacist group, “Council of Conservative Citizens,” an organization that regularly publishes articles condemning “race mixing,” and laments the decline of white, European civilization.”  (Southern Poverty Law Center, “Council of Conservative Citizens,”)

George Allen, a board member of American Action Network, was criticized by a Washington Post editorial for his use of a racial slur towards S.R. Sidarth, an Indian-American tracker for Jim Webb’s campaign.  [Washington Post Editorial, 8/15/06]


Club for Growth

$169,000 spent to date

Agenda: Budget-Busting Bush Tax Cuts for Rich, Health Care Repeal


Bankrolled by Wall Street special interests, Club For Growth has been attacked by fellow Republicans for its extreme agenda that supports the rich. Senator John McCain’s office has said the club is a ‘bagman for the ultra rich.’” [Washington Post, 1/17/03].

Club for Growth has a history of false, misleading attack ads, including one dubbed “incorrect” by Politifact on health care that falsely attempted to scare seniors into believing they would be denied expensive treatments.

 [Politifact, http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2009/aug/06/club-growth/club-growths-health-care-ad-campaign-misleading/]

Club for Growth has called for the privatization of social security, and says its “first policy goal” is the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts for the rich even while it opposes an increase in the minimum wage.  [Club for Growth, Online]


Americans for Prosperity

$22,000 spent to date

Agenda: Climate Change Denial, Environmental Deregulation

Americans for Prosperity is led by David Koch, whose companies have been repeatedly fined for environmental violations. In 2000, the EPA gave the company a massive fine for causing more than 300 oil spills across six states. [Bangor Daily News, 11/16/05] And the company has faced charges for illegally releasing benzene from an oil refinery, pled guilty for hiding information from investigators, among other charges.

AFP has a history of lobbying against efforts to reform energy and environmental policy. Koch PAC gave Johnson $5,000 on July 16. Johnson and Koch share a similar extremist philosophy, and have tried to invent their own set of facts to deny climate change.

David Koch praising climate change:

The Earth will be able to support enormously more people because a far greater land area will be available to produce food,” he says. [New York Magazine, 7/25/10]

Ron Johnson praising climate change:

“I’m glad there is global warming.” [Jerry Bader Show 7/7/10]


Johnson famously blamed “sunspot activity” for climate change last month, a claim widely debunked by scientists.