Foreign-Funded "U.S." Chamber Spends Big to Influence U.S. Elections

ThinkProgress has discovered that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is funding political attack ads from its general account, which includes funding from foreign entities. As a 501(c)(6) organization, the Chamber can legally raise and spend unlimited funds without disclosing its any of its donors. This election season, the Chamber vowed to spend an unprecedented $75 million to defeat Democratic candidates around the country -- an amount that blows the doors off every other issue group or senate candidates' spending. By September 18, the Chamber had already aired over 8,000 ads on behalf of Republican candidates. But where is the money coming from? In recent years, the U.S. Chamber has started opening foreign offices that raise membership "dues" from foreign corporations. Foreign members of the Chamber send their dues either directly to the U.S. Chamber or to their local chapter, which in turn pays dues back to the Chamber's American offices on H Street in Washington, D.C. These funds are added to the Chamber's 501(c)(6) account, from which it finances attack ads. The Chamber collects hundreds of thousands of dollars in dues from from foreign businesses in the oil-rich country of Bahrain, India, Egypt, Abu Dhabi, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, China and other countries. The Chamber successfully lobbied in the U.S. to kill campaign finance reforms aimed at establishing transparency. Campaign finance laws prohibit foreign entities from contributing to political races in the U.S.