Thursday, October 15, 2009

Stop the Chamber: Online action calls for investigation, limits on US Chamber of Commerce

from, a Campaign

The Chamber of Commerce, under the leadership of Tom Donahue, has gone from a well respected trade organization to an extremist political organization dedicated to corrupting American democracy by elevating the profits of big corporations over the well being of the citizens they serve. The most recent example of this corrupt behavior is the Chamber's announcement that it is spending more than $100 million to defeat initiatives to protect the environment and provide affordable health care to everyone.

The Chamber is the biggest lobbying operation in the United States, spending billions of dollars on behalf of big business over the past decade to corrupt the political system. Polluters like Big Coal, Big Asbestos, and Big Oil only need call the Chamber to stop any accountability for their toxic destruction. Wall Street banks and CEOs need only make sure that they have paid their Chamber dues to ensure that they can continue to rip off the taxpayers. And killers like Big Tobacco need only form a partnership with the Chamber to ensure that they will be given immunity from lawsuits that seek accountability for the death and sickness of millions of Americans.

Click here to sign on.

Tom Donahue has turned the once respected and even-handed Chamber into an extremist organization, bragging that the Chamber gutted the Clinton tobacco settlement, killed the Clinton health care plan, and scuttled previous oversight of Wall Street and the banking system. Now the Chamber is spending tens of millions on ads and lobbyists to stop health care for all, protect polluters from accountability, and shield the financial industry from government regulation.

Not only is the Chamber lobbying and advertising against the interests of Americans, it is also committing fraud and violating campaign finance laws by creating fake astroturfing front groups, with patriotic names like Citizens for a Strong Ohio, and then illegally funneling millions of anonymous dollars into those groups to attack candidates and judges who won't do their bidding. While this corrupts the electoral system, the Chamber persists, even when it is caught, fined and required to disclose its "anonymous" donors.

We have had enough and it is time to Stop The Chamber. Therefore, we demand the following:

1. Fire Tom Donohue. Mr. Donohue is the Chamber's corrupter in chief who single handedly turned the Chamber "into a pay-to-play vehicle for right-wing causes and corporate dishonesty. As Eliot Spitzer put it, "Tom Donohue has never once found a crime that he couldn't justify, as long as it was committed by one of his dues-paying members."

2. Drop Corporate Support for the Chamber. Over the past month, several large companies have abandoned the Chamber because of its anti-science stance on global warming. These include, Apple, Exelon Energy, Pacific Gas & Electric, Nike, and Public Service Company of New Mexico. As Nike put it, "We fundamentally disagree with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on the issue of climate change, and their recent action challenging the E.P.A. is inconsistent with our view that climate change is an issue in need of urgent action." We will target companies with exposure and boycotts if they remain with the Chamber.

3. Launch A Criminal Investigation Against The Chamber For Fraud, False Tax Filings And Campaign Finance Violations. Former Alliance for Democracy co-chair Cliff Arnebeck led the charge against the Chamber in Ohio, where it was found to have committed fraud and campaign finance violations by creating a front group called Citizens for a Strong Ohio and funneling millions of dollars through it to defeat Supreme Court Justice Alice Resnick. This Chamber practice is widespread and was also used against Karl Rove-targeted Mississippi Justice Oliver Diaz, and in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Michigan, West Virginia, and Arkansas. We are asking the Department of Justice to investigate these illegal practices under RICO and to review whether the Chamber is actually a political action committee rather than a trade association. See our letter to DOJ here.

4. Ask Congress To Investigate The Chamber. In addition to a criminal investigation, we want Congress to investigate the activities of the Chamber to include astroturfing and election manipulation as outlined by Public Citizen. Read U.S. Chamber of Commerce Failed to Report Electioneering Spending and Grants, Public Citizen Asks IRS to Investigate. Send a letter to Congress here.

5. Reorganize The Chamber. The Board of the Chamber should shut down the Chamber's lobbying arm and legal reform arm, and return to being a respected trade organization rather than a partisan PAC.

6. Speak Out Against The Chamber. We ask companies, politicians and others that do not agree with the flat earth, anti science, partisan, anti people approach of the Chamber to speak out publicly against the Chamber.

Click here to Send A Letter Asking Congress To Investigate The Chamber.

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