Investigative reporter Tom Hamburger has an excellent article in today's Los Angeles Times on the tens of millions of dollars pouring into the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to defeat candidates who stand in the way of Big Business.
As Hamburger reports, the Chamber spent $144 million last year on advocacy and plans to spend substantially more this year. And those dollars will have more impact than ever thanks to the Supreme Court, which recently ruled 5-4 that giant corporations can directly oppose or support candidates for public office.
The article also explains how companies use the Chamber to do their dirty work while concealing their involvement:
Using trade associations such as the chamber as the vehicle for spending corporate money on politics has an extra appeal: These groups can take large contributions from companies and wealthy individuals in ways that will probably avoid public disclosure requirements.
The chamber has developed that into something of a specialty: Under a system pioneered by Donohue, corporations have contributed money to the chamber, which then produced issue ads targeting individual candidates without revealing the names of the businesses underwriting the ads.
And remember, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is not the national equivalent of your local community chamber of commerce, as the name might suggest. Instead, it's an extremely conservative advocacy group that does the bidding of a small group of companies that provide most of its funding:
The chamber says it represents 3 million companies that pay dues to the national chamber or a local affiliate, though internal documents suggest the organization's treasury is filled in substantial part by contributions from a couple dozen major corporations most affected by Washington policymakers.
The entire article is definitely worth reading. You can find it here.