WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce claims to represent the interests of over 3 million businesses across the country. The Chamber’s contributor list, though, tells a very different story, a report released today by Public Citizen found. The report was covered exclusively today by CNBC.
“The narrow donor base casts serious doubts on the Chamber’s repeated claims that it represents such a broad range of business,” said Lisa Gilbert, Executive Vice President of Public Citizen.
The Chamber hauled in nearly $198 million in contributions in 2021, 97 percent of which came from donors giving at least $5,000. Contributions of $5,000 or more appear on the Chamber’s IRS Form 990 as itemized contributions with the donor names redacted.
Public Citizen obtained and examined the itemized contributions on the Chamber’s 2021 form and found, among other things:
- On average, contributors gave the Chamber $146,000, far more than many small businesses could afford.
- Nearly half of the money donated to the Chamber came from just 46 donors that gave $1 million or more.
- 18 donors are responsible for more than a quarter of the money contributed to the Chamber.
- Just three donors gave more than eight percent of the Chamber’s contributions.
The report recommends that the Chamber alter its behavior to more fully represent the interests of the 3 million businesses around the country it purports to stand for. Disclosing the identity of its donors, encouraging robust antitrust enforcement, and pushing the business community to transition to clean energy are just some of the ways the Chamber could live up to its mission statement and represent the interests of millions of businesses across the country, not just a few at the top.