I am writing to ask that you open an investigation and hold hearings into the activities of the United States Chamber of Commerce ("COC"). Specifically, according to new reports, court filings and NGO investigations, COC, 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.
COC 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. 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."
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, thereby undermining our elections. Lawsuits have been won against COC for this illegal conduct and Public Citizen has outlined some of this criminal activity here.
The COC is now a PAC and a lobbying powerhouse engaged in the same arrogant "pay to play" activity that sent Jack Abramoff to prison. The American people have had enough and it is time to Stop The Chamber. In the past week, five major companies have abandoned the Chamber because of its radical policies, including Apple, Exelon Energy, Pacific Gas & Electric, Nike, and Public Service Company of New Mexico. Now Congress must step in and expose the Chamber's illegal and unethical conduct. Therefore I urge you to launch a full investigation of the Chamber with oversight hearings and broad subpoenas. I further ask that you contact the Attorney General and request that he open a criminal investigation of the Chamber.
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