Anti-Bennet Ad Campaign Propped Up By Foreign Cash?

(Shouldn’t the “Tea Party” have a rather large problem with this? Bumped on Wednesday by popular demand – promoted by Colorado Pols)

ThinkProgress has a story that shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of us in the wake of Citizens United.  It hits hard, and it hits close to home: the U.S. Chamber Of Commerce is funding its massive attack ad campaign this year from its general fund, which includes a lot of foreign money.

The largest attack campaign against Democrats this fall is being waged by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a trade association organized as a 501(c)(6) that can raise and spend unlimited funds without ever disclosing any of its donors. The Chamber has promised to spend an unprecedented $75 million to defeat candidates like Jack Conway, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jerry Brown, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), and Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA). As of Sept. 15th, the Chamber had aired more than 8,000  ads on behalf of GOP Senate candidates alone, according to a study from the Wesleyan Media Project. The Chamber’s spending has dwarfed every other issue group and most political party candidate committee spending. A ThinkProgress investigation has found that the Chamber funds its political attack campaign out of its general account, which solicits foreign funding. And while the Chamber will likely assert it has internal controls, foreign money is fungible, permitting the Chamber to run its unprecedented attack campaign. According to legal experts consulted by ThinkProgress, the Chamber is likely skirting longstanding campaign finance law that bans the involvement of foreign corporations in American elections.

The USCOC receives membership dues of hundreds of thousands of dollars (each) from foreign-owned companies and various foreign business councils.  All the money goes in a single pot, and out pops $75m in attack ads aimed at Democrats.  Republicans (and the USCOC) can’t very well claim there is good separation between these funds when they’ve been screaming for years how it’s impossible to separate Planned Parenthood abortion funds from their other medical work (even when there are two separate accounts…).

The Chamber has spent at least $250,000 in ads targeting Sen. Michael Bennet here in Colorado, making Ken Buck a beneficiary of this illegal foreign campaigning.  Buck should tell the USCOC to back out of the race until they can set up a donor-disclosed organization through which the Chamber can verify the nationality of its campaigning contributions.

In the meantime, ThinkProgress is asking that the DOJ investigate the Chamber for using illegally using foreign money for campaigning.