For the First Time, 100 Percent of the U.S. Chamber’s General Election Spending Benefited Republican Candidates Exclusively

Dec. 7, 2016

For the First Time, 100 Percent of the U.S. Chamber’s General Election Spending Benefited Republican Candidates Exclusively

New Report Reveals that U.S. Chamber of Commerce Dominated Undisclosed Spending in Congressional Races Across the Nation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has abandoned any claims it once held to bipartisanship or working across the aisle to get things done after it placed all its financial support with Republicans in this year’s congressional elections, a report (PDF) released today by Public Citizen’s U.S. Chamber Watch shows.

“The Chamber’s 2016 election spending makes it clear that rather than being a voice for American business, the Chamber has become an arm for the Republican Party. Companies that are Chamber members should ask themselves if such a partisan voice really represents their best interests,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, which houses U.S. Chamber Watch. “Companies also should engage in some soul-searching to determine how their customers and shareholders might react if they knew that company money was going to fund an extremist, partisan organization with a reactionary anti-environmental, anti-worker, anti-consumer agenda.”

The Chamber, a trade association organized under section 501(c) of the tax code, is not legally required to disclose the sources of the money it independently spends on elections. For the analysis, “The Republican Party and the Chamber of Secrets,” (PDF) Public Citizen analyzed campaign spending data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

The Chamber spent a total of $29.8 million on 2016 races. It spent money in eight of the 10 congressional races that saw the most outside spending in 2016, the analysis shows. Other key findings include:

  • Chamber-backed candidates won 13 of the 16 races in which the Chamber spent money.
  • The Chamber was the second largest overall non-disclosing outside spender.
  • The Chamber was the largest non-disclosing outside spender in 75 percent of the races in which it spent money.
  • 100 percent of the Chamber’s general election spending benefited Republican candidates.
  • The Chamber spent a reported $13.1 million to support Republicans and another $16.5 million to oppose Democrats. The only money the Chamber spent against Republican candidates took place in Republican primaries where the Chamber supported an establishment GOP candidate over a tea party GOP candidate.

“The Chamber gets the vast majority of its funding from just a small group of deep-pocketed donors, rather than the hundreds of thousands of members it claims to represent,” said Dan Dudis, director of Public Citizen’s U.S. Chamber Watch program. “The tens of millions of dollars in dark money that the Chamber spent in 2016 helped elect candidates who blindly support its big business agenda. Individuals and small businesses represented by the congressional lawmakers the Chamber helped elect should ask themselves to whom their elected representatives are really beholden.”

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