Biggest Dark Money Spender in 2014 Elections: U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Friday, October 31, 2014
Thomas J. Donohue, President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The king of shadowy campaign spending this election is the nation’s leading big business lobby, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.


A new report (pdf) by the watchdog group Public Citizen says the Chamber is leading all “dark money” organizations seeking to influence the midterm election. As of October 25, the Chamber had spent $31.8 million on advertising and contributions. That’s $8 million more than the second leading dark money spender, the Republican oriented Crossroads GPS, which spent $23.5 million.


“When large corporations decide they want to get their own candidates into office but they don’t want to be seen doing it, they call the U.S. Chamber,” Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, told Common Dreams. “These politicians then push for anti-environmental, anti-consumer, and anti-health policies and priorities that hurt everyday Americans.”


The Chamber has been throwing its weight around in many races around the country. Public Citizen reported the business group was the biggest dark money spender in over 80% of the campaigns it has targeted.


Dark money refers to campaign spending by 501(c) groups as classified by the Internal Revenue Service, of which the Chamber is just one example. As a 501(c), the Chamber is not required to reveal the names of its donors.


Nearly all of the Chamber’s spending has gone to help Republicans, “with small amounts put towards opposing” Tea Party candidates whose support for shutting down the government irked the Chamber, according to the report.


“We know that the Chamber gets most of its money from just a handful of large donors,” Sam Jewler, communications officer for U.S. Chamber Watch and author of the report told Common Dreams. “The policies its chosen candidates pursue will not represent Main Street, but will represent the agendas of a small number of very powerful companies that may prefer secretly buying influence over competing or innovating.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

In Record ‘Dark Money’ Election, Chamber of Commerce Top Shadowy Spender (by Sarah Lazare, Common Dreams)

Dark Money Still a Republican Game (by Peter Olsen-Phillips, Sunlight Foundation)

The Dark Side of Citizens United (Public Citizen) (pdf)

Real-Time Federal Campaign Finance (Influence Explorer)

Dark Money Political Groups Hit $100 Million Mark in Election Spending (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)

U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Failed Attempt to Influence Elections: 8 Wins; 51 Losses (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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