Activists question U.S. chamber campaign spending
Groups want state chamber to press national group on suspected foreign financing
Two state civic groups have asked the Maryland Chamber of Commerce to lobby the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to disclose whether it is subsidizing election spending on ads and other political activities with foreign funds, which would be against federal law.
In a recent letter to the state chamber, representatives from the Maryland Public Interest Research Group and the League of Women Voters of Maryland wrote that the U.S. chamber claimed to not have used foreign funds on political expenses but has refused to offer documentation to back up the claim.
"The current ambiguity of the U.S. chamber's involvement in our elections is setting a dangerous precedent that can easily be abused by foreign entities in the future," the letter says.
Kathleen T. Snyder, president and CEO of the Maryland chamber, said that while the state chamber pays dues to the national organization, how the two groups manage budgets and decisions by political action committees is "totally separate." Federal laws dictate how they can give money to political candidates, she said.
"I think the U.S. chamber has heard from its membership on this," Snyder said.
The U.S. chamber is not using foreign money to fund political activities, the group says on its website.
"The U.S. chamber fully complies with all applicable laws and regulations," the site says, adding that "labor unions and their allies far outspend business on election efforts."
Some, such as Marc A. Thiessen, a visiting fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, have also questioned whether labor unions are funding political activities with foreign money.