U.S. Chamber Accused of Tax Fraud, Money Laundering

Two national watchdog groups, U.S. Chamber Watch and StopTheChamber.com, have filed complaints with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service asking the agency to investigate the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for criminal fraud and money laundering. The groups allege that the Chamber has been illegally funneling donations from a wealthy charitable foundation into its political battles. Chamber Watch says $12 million of an $18 million donation that the wealthy Starr Foundation gave (pdf) gave to the National Chamber Foundation, was in the form of loans that have never been repaid. Chamber Watch says the money was diverted to finance political causes, including tort reform, to shield companies like AIG from liability lawsuits. The Starr Foundation was founded by Cornelius Vander Starr, the insurance entrepreneur who also founded AIG. The Foundation's Chairman of the Board of Directors is Maurice R. Greenberg, former President and CEO of AIG. The Foundation's Director (and Treasurer) is Howard I. Smith, AIG's former Chief Financial Officer. StopTheChamber.com says it was contacted by a Chamber whistleblower who described (pdf) how Chamber CEO Tom Donohue is "scamming [business] clients to serve his own interests rather than the interests of the business community." The insider compared Donohue to Jack Abramoff and Bernie Madoff. He also alleged that Donohue does not fear the Federal Elections Commission or Congress, and has a plan set up to attack the U.S. Department of Justice if the agency ever tries to investigate him.