July 12, 2016
ExxonMobil Claims Transparency on Nonprofit Spending – But Omits Donations to Trade Associations Like the U.S. Chamber
Statement of Dan Dudis, Director, Public Citizen’s U.S. Chamber Watch Program
Note: Last week, ExxonMobil – which is being investigated by attorneys general who are trying to determine if the company misrepresented what it knew about fossil fuels and climate change – released (PDF) information about its donations to organizations worldwide.
While ExxonMobil claims to value transparency, it would appear that Exxon doesn’t really understand the concept.
Only too happy to tout its donations to various nonprofits and universities under the guise of promoting “sound public policies,” Exxon turns out the lights when it comes to the money it donates to trade associations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that lobby for, you guessed it, public policies!
Thanks to the fact that the Chamber has a charitable arm known as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation that Exxon considers to be engaged in the public policy sphere, we do know that Exxon gave $1 million to the Chamber Foundation and plans to give a total of $5 million by 2018.
This of course raises the question: How much is Exxon giving to the Chamber itself? The Chamber uses the hundreds of millions of dollars it receives from big companies like Exxon to fund massive lobbying and elections spending campaigns.
In essence, the Chamber serves as a conduit to allow big corporations to anonymously spend on elections and lobbying. They get the candidates and policies that they want, without ever having to disclose their involvement. Even their shareholders are kept in the dark.
However, as the Chamber under President Tom Donohue has become ever more powerful and partisan, its public image has begun to suffer. Enter the Chamber Foundation, presumably designed to help whitewash the Chamber’s tarnished reputation.
So while Exxon won’t tell the public or its shareholders how much it gives to the Chamber, we do know that it’s willing to shell out $5 million to an organization that serves to help whitewash the Chamber’s image. One can only suspect that Exxon is willing to fork over far more in the hopes of achieving its primary policy goal: blocking action on climate change.