U.S. Chamber of Commerce to spend big on 2012 election

WASHINGTON Tue May 22, 2012 6:54pm EDT

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Donohue speaks in his annual State of American Business address at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington January 11, 2011. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Donohue speaks in his annual State of American Business address at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington January 11, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which helped Republicans make big gains in the 2010 congressional elections, is planning its most aggressive push yet to send business-friendly lawmakers to Washington in the November 6 election.

Thomas Donohue, the president and CEO of the powerful business lobby, on Tuesday said the Chamber planned to get involved in 11 or 12 Senate races and 35 to 37 races for the House of Representatives.

"We are planning on having a good year," Donohue told hundreds of members of the U.S. small business community at a meeting in Washington.

"Yesterday, reporters asked me how much money we'll spend," he said, adding that journalists suggested the group spent $50 million in the last election cycle. "It'll be a lot of money," Donohue said, "This is a more important election than the last election."

The group has spent $3.4 million so far on this election cycle, according to its public records.

In 2010, when Republicans took control of the House, the Chamber reported spending $32 million on races, according to the Center for Responsive Politics data. This year, Democrats are hoping to contest scores of House seats and protect their Senate majority in some two dozen highly-contested races.

The business lobby, which has opposed some of the Obama administration's key domestic policies, including the 2010 healthcare restructuring law, historically stays away from the presidential race but hits hard on congressional elections as well as state attorneys general and elected judges races.

"Our strategy is to protect the pro-business majority in the House and advance our interests in the Senate," said Rob Engstrom, the group's national political director.

The Chamber is planning to invest heavily in Senate races it considers critical, including in Massachusetts, Nevada, Nebraska, Montana, Florida, Missouri and North Dakota.

The group, whose donors are kept secret, will "equally invest" in dozens of key House races, such as in California, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Engstrom said.

Although traditionally viewed as a pro-Republican entity, the Chamber does support fiscally conservative Democrats, focusing on votes and policy positions that benefit the business community over party affiliation.

Engstrom said the group, which will announce further endorsements in coming months, has already come out in support of incumbent Democratic Representatives Jim Matheson and John Barrow, of Utah and Georgia respectively.

In what the Chamber called its earliest election engagement ever, the group has already started advertising and advocacy in 31 congressional districts and nine competitive states.

Customized for each race, many of the ads attack candidates who have supported Democratic President Barack Obama's healthcare law. The group also has targeted those siding with Obama in rejecting TransCanada Corp's original full plan to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to Texas.

"We will focus our efforts on a number of issues critical to the American recovery," Engstrom said. "These issues include Obamacare, American energy exploration, a common sense approach to government regulation, limiting frivolous lawsuits, travel and tourism and investments in transportation and infrastructure so our economy can move."

(Additional reporting by Alexander Cohen; Editing by Paul Simao)

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Comments (10)
AlkalineState wrote:
This article would be more accurately titled if it just came out and said:

“Foreign business and pro-China lobby to spend big on 2012 election.”

May 22, 2012 4:40pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Greenspan2 wrote:
Thank you for reporting on America’s biggest secret, that the “light upon the hill” has actually become the world’s biggest pimp to financial interests with the Chamber of Commerce right up there as the biggest John paying top dollar while presenting itself as exemplary to American society. This perverted conglomeration of American “values”" with money, exploitation, distortion and manipulation bordering upon sadism is nauseating to the very core of one’s soul.

May 22, 2012 8:58pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
flashrooster wrote:
The Chamber of Commerce, more than any other organization, represents the plutocracy that has stolen our government right out from under our noses. Thanks to the CofC we no longer have a say in how we are governed; we no longer practice democracy. We are being governed by a group of plutocrats who have effectively incorporated elements of feudalism and fascism into an American-style plutocracy and they control us through propaganda:

1.the rule or power of wealth or of the wealthy.
2.a government or state in which the wealthy class rules.
3.a class or group ruling, or exercising power or influence, by virtue of its wealth.

All that we lack from having our country turn into a full fledged fascist state is an authoritarian leader, but that’s just a matter of time. But as long as the Chamber of Commerce can continue controlling things like they have been, there’s no need for a single authoritarian ruler. That will eventually happen, but not before the plutocrats finish extracting everything America’s Middle Class has to extract.

The frustrating thing is that we don’t have to go down this road. But it seems that people on the right have quit thinking for themselves and have all their thinking programed for them by the CofC’s main propaganda arm, FOX News. They’ve been taught to believe that ANYTHING is better than progressivism, even though the US has been the most progressive nation in the world and that’s what has enabled us to become great.

We can stop this march off the cliff, but the right has to wake up, grow some cojones, and start demanding that our elected government representatives stop accepting outside money and institute public financing of elections. That would instantly kill this cancer that has ended our democracy. But you people need to turn off the FOX News and start thinking for yourselves again.

May 22, 2012 9:38pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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