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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Election Spending Shrunk, But Remained Partisan and Secretive

New Public Citizen report shows the Chamber remains a dangerous force for democracy.

By Craig Sandler, Program Associate, Congress Watch

A tiger, the saying goes, cannot change its stripes. The same could be said of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

A new Public Citizen report entitled “Same Stripes: Though Shrunken, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Election Spending in 2018 Remained Totally Partisan” finds that, compared to its spending on congressional races in other recent cycles, the Chamber’s spending in the 2018 cycle was far lower but it still exclusively benefitted the GOP.

Even with its diminished amount of spending, the Chamber remains a massively powerful force in our elections. The Chamber was the second-largest spender of outside money among groups that do not disclose their donors in the midterms. The post-Citizens United trend wherein groups with a 501(c) tax designation can spend massive amounts of secret money without disclosing is dangerous for and harmful to our democracy.

Furthermore, the report shows that the Chamber’s recent claims of a new pivot toward bipartisanship are dishonest. The 2016 election cycle was the first time in which 100 percent of the Chamber’s spending on general elections went to benefit Republican candidates. In the 2018 cycle, this held true for all races in which the Chamber disclosed its favored candidate. The Chamber may talk a big game regarding its supposed change of heart, but in action it continues to seek to elect candidates to enact its regressive anti-worker, anti-family, anti-environment, anti-consumer agenda.

The report, which can be downloaded as a .pdf file here, makes clear that, even with its relatively smaller spending in the 2018 elections and its recent PR rehabilitation campaign, the Chamber’s stripes are the same as ever.