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Oct. 29, 2014

Report: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Dominates Undisclosed Spending in Congressional Races

The Chamber Has Spent Almost as Much as the Next Two Dark Money Groups Combined, Public Citizen’s U.S. Chamber Watch Program Finds

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is both the largest overall spender in the 2014 congressional elections among outside groups that do not disclose their contributors and the largest such spender in 28 of the 35 races in which it has gotten involved, Public Citizen reported today.

The Chamber has gotten involved in 16 of the 20 races that have seen the most outside spending, and it has spent an average of $908,000 per race, according to the new analysis, “The Dark Side of Citizens United,” conducted by Public Citizen’s U.S. Chamber Watch program. Citizens United is the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that permitted corporations and unions to spend unlimited sums to influence elections.

“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,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, which houses U.S. Chamber Watch. “These politicians then push for anti-environmental, anti-consumer, and anti-health policies and priorities that hurt everyday Americans.”

Nearly all the U.S. Chamber’s spending – about $31 million out of $32 million – has gone either to support Republicans or to oppose their Democratic opponents. The rest of the money was spent to oppose a handful of Republicans in primaries.

“We know that the Chamber gets most of its money from just a handful of large donors,” said Sam Jewler, communications officer for U.S. Chamber Watch. “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.”

As of Oct. 25, the Chamber had reported spending $31.8 million to influence this year’s congressional elections. Its nearest competitor, Crossroads GPS, had spent $23.5 million. The third-place group, the League of Conservation Voters, had spent less than $9.5 million.

Read Public Citizen’s report.

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