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Chamber emerges as formidable political force


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Nov 24, 2009
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Chamber emerges as formidable political force - Politics - Decision 2010 - msnbc.com

WASHINGTON — At times subtle, at times loud, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is spending record amounts on lobbying and in election battlegrounds, elbowing into the nation's politics in unprecedented ways for the business community.

The country's largest business lobby has pledged to spend $75 million in this year's elections. That's on top of a lobbying effort that already has cost the organization nearly $190 million since Barack Obama became president in January 2009.


In its dual lobbying-politicking roles, the chamber has been a visible player in congressional debates, fighting Obama administration initiatives on health care, financial regulations and energy policy. It's weighed in on Senate contests, spending more than $4 million so far in Massachusetts, Arkansas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio. It's endorsed Republican Senate candidates in Florida, California and Missouri, and it plans another wave of ads around Labor Day.

This expanded entry into politics comes as legal restraints on the political activities of corporations and unions are eased. As a result, the chamber is not operating in a void.


•American Crossroads, created with the help of Republican masterminds Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie. It has pledged to raise $50 million to help Republicans this year. That group and its affiliated Crossroads GPS have already spent more than $3 million airing ads against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Democratic Senate candidates Robin Carnahan in Missouri and Michael Bennet in Colorado and for Republican Rob Portman in Ohio.
•Americans for Prosperity, founded by millionaire David Koch of Wichita, Kan.-based Koch Industries. It has aired ads in at least eight House districts criticizing Democrats' voting records. AFP president Tim Phillips said the group has raised more than $26 million this year and is planning new ads in three Arizona and three Florida congressional districts next week. The group is spending $4.1 million to air an ad in 11 states that disparages Congress' economic stimulus package. "We want to make these guys on the left defend on our issues," Phillips said.


Democratic efforts to pass legislation that would require groups that run political ads to disclose their donors have failed in the Senate. In his weekly address, Obama renewed his call for Senate Republicans to stop blocking the legislation.

"We don't know who's behind these ads and we don't know who's paying for them," the president said.

the one thing i would like to see political groups have to disclose their donor lists.
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