The Veteran’s Alliance for Security and Democracy has joined a growing list of civic-minded organizations filing complaints with the Federal Elections Commission and the IRS regarding the illegal and unethical interference of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the current election cycle.
Despite the Supreme Court’s best efforts to allow banks, corporations, and other special interests to use their vast resources to buy American elections, there are still a few laws in place—laws that extremist right-wing members of the Supreme Court have not (yet) managed to overturn.
One of those laws states that nonprofit organizations are banned from making contributions to candidates for federal offices. Another says that no foreign entities, including governments and corporations, can contribute to U.S. political parties or candidates. (Duh. Sounds like a good policy to me!)
Last week alone, the tax-exempt, allegedly “nonprofit” Chamber spend $10.5 million in support of 31 House and Senate candidates—all, of course, Republicans. This money comes from what the Chamber calls its “general fund”—the same pot into which money flows from most of the countries in the world, as well as countless foreign corporations.
How much money? How many countries? Which corporations?
Shhhhhhh. That’s all secret.
The Chamber says, “trust us.” They claim to have an “internal auditing system” that ensures that none of that tainted foreign currency is ever used to influence politics in America.
Okay, let’s use an analogy here. In most jurisdictions in America, people arrested for drug trafficking are likely to have their homes, automobiles, bank accounts, and other property seized by the government. Why? Because those individuals are believed to have profited from the drug trade. It may be that not one single cent of drug money was used to purchase the property in question; however, having access to money allows a person to buy more stuff. Where individuals are concerned, the government recognizes (rightly or wrongly—that’s a whole other subject) that having the money enables the person to buy the house, the car, etc.
But the Citizens United verdict that overturned decades of finance campaign law did not, as conservatives claim, put corporations and other special interest groups on the same footing as individual United States citizens; rather, it gave these groups enormous privileges—even beyond the privileges that money can buy—to do things individuals cannot. One of those special privileges is keeping secrets about their finances.
The outrage many people are expressing about the Chamber’s unwarranted and illegal interference in this election is well deserved. The Chamber doesn’t like the negative publicity, but it’s a problem the Chamber itself could easily resolve.
All it has to do is to open the books.