The Chamber of Commerce’s Hobby

The New York Times writes today about the vast tidal wave of secret cash that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is spending this year to support the Republican Party:

Dow Chemical delivered $1.7 million to the chamber last year….And Goldman Sachs, Chevron Texaco, and Aegon, a multinational insurance company based in the Netherlands, donated more than $8 million in recent years.

….The chamber makes no apologies for its policy of not identifying its donors. It has vigorously opposed legislation in Congress that would require groups like it to identify their biggest contributors when they spend money on campaign ads….“The major supporters of us in health care last year were confronted with protests at their corporate headquarters, protests and harassment at the C.E.O.’s homes,” said R. Bruce Josten, the chief lobbyist at the chamber, whose office looks out on the White House. “You are wondering why companies want some protection. It is pretty clear.”

….The chamber asserts in filings with the Federal Election Commission that it is simply running issue ads during this election season. But a review of the nearly 70 chamber-produced ads found that 93 percent of those that have run nationwide that focus on the midterm elections either support Republican candidates or criticize their opponents.

And the pace of spending has been relentless. In just a single week this month, the chamber spent $10 million on Senate races in nine states and two dozen House races, a fraction of the $50 million to $75 million it said it intends to spend over all this season. In the 2008 election cycle, it spent $33.5 million.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but here in California I’ve been watching the Chamber’s “voter education and issue advocacy effort” for the past several weeks, and it sure looks an awful lot like the only issue they care about is making sure that every last resident of the Golden State loathes Barbara Boxer. But I guess everyone needs a hobby. The rest of their secretly funded hobby is illustrated by the Times in handy chart form below:

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