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The Chamber of Commerce, under the leadership of Tom Donohue, 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.
Tom Donohue 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:
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."
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.
Launch A Criminal Investigation Against The Chamber For Fraud, False Tax Filings And Campaign Finance Violations. The Chamber was found to have committed fraud and campaign finance violations in Ohio 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 because she could not be bought. 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. http://www.citizen.org/pressroom/release.cfm?ID=2062 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.
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. http://www.citizen.org/pressroom/release.cfm?ID=2305 Send a letter to Congress here.
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.
- 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.
UPDATE: $100,000 Reward For Information Leading To The Arrest And Conviction Of Chamber CEO Tom Donohue. Click Here For Reward Poster.
UPDATE: Reward Increased To $200,000 For Information Leading To The Arrest And Conviction Of Chamber CEO Tom Donohue. Click Here For Reward Poster.
UPDATE: Chamber Named Winner Of National Scrooge Of The Year Award. "There was plenty of competition for the award this year," said Jobs with Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta, "but the similarities between Scrooge and the Chamber of Commerce were hard to beat. The ghost of years past would show that the policies they've promoted including deregulation and maximizing profits at the expense of workers are directly connected to the destruction of America's middle class.”
“Each year, national Jobs with Justice gives an ‘award’ to the greediest, most cold-hearted company or person of the year.” This year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has found itself in the final five for the National Scrooge Award, and you can vote for the winner here. As Jobs with Justice says, the Chamber “Scrooge likes you to think it is the voice of American business. But in reality, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- and its CEO Tom Donohue -- are pushing a narrow, radical agenda. It's becoming increasingly clear that the Chamber has become a front group for a few narrow interests, not a membership association that represents the voice of mainstream American businesses. And it is increasingly at odds with both small and green businesses. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce often says it speaks for 3 million members, businesses both large and small. What it doesn't promote as readily is that 19 supporters last year provided a third of the trade group's total revenue. The bottom line? The Chamber is the ultimate Scrooge. Not only will Tom Donohue fight hard to put a lump of coal in your stocking at taxpayer expense, but it will claim that the lump of coal represents the voice of American business and is good for you.”
UPDATE: Tom Donohue has been palling around with the president of China in order to promote the outsourcing of American jobs. As Mr. Donohue told VentureOutsource publication, outsourcing is good for business and the Chamber is “fighting to preserve their right to [outsource].”
UPDATE: Chamber Supporters Make Death Threats. On December 11, 2009, we filed a request with the FBI in Washington for a federal investigation into a campaign of death threats against us by supporters of the Chamber and Tom Donohue. Read the complete letter here. We provided hundreds of emails to the FBI and have asked for for a determination of who is behind the threats and prosecution of those who have made the threats. We have also asked the FBI to investigate whether the Chamber is engaged in a smear and intimidation campaign against our organization and people associated with it in order to obstruct justice. It is against the law to intimidate and threaten someone who makes a criminal complaint to the Department of Justice, which we made in our October 5, 2009 letter to Attorney General Eric Holder. Read all about it here on Huffington Post.
Update: Today we issued the following warning to any 2010 candidate who accepts any direct or indirect money, advertising support, or lip service from the United States Chamber of Commerce or any of its astroturf front operations: The Chamber and its CEO Tom Donohue are toxic assets plagued by scandal, criminal investigations, shareholder lawsuits, NGO criminal complaints, the National Scrooge Award, control by big business insiders, defections by responsible companies, and the antipathy of the general public. Any Chamber-supported candidate will be tied to these scandals during the midterm elections. VR will be launching an ad campaign next week to spread this message to all candidates running in the 2010 midterm elections.
Update: StopTheChamber Calls For Criminal Charges Against U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Director Don Blankenship For Homicide. Twenty-Nine Dead In West Virginia Mine Because Of Chamber Policies. Congress Members Must Order Halt To Contact With Chamber Lobbyists.
Read full press release here.
Update 4/15/10: StopTheChamber Makes Formal Request To Attorney General For Appointment Of Special Prosecutor To Investigate Don Blankenship. Read the letter here.
Update 4/26/10:RFK Jr. Calls Massey Energy A Criminal Enterprise And Says Don Blankenship Should Be In Jail. StopTheChamber caught up with RFK Jr. at the Washington, DC Earth Day Rally yesterday and asked him about our call for criminal prosecution of Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship for the deaths of 29 miners two weeks ago. Kennedy said that “Massey Energy is a criminal enterprise” that "cannot do business without breaking the law." He said that Don Blankenship should be "in jail." Watch it :
Update 4/30/10: Criminal Investigations Announced Against Goldman Sachs And Massey Energy. We were the first to call for criminal prosecution of Massey Energy two weeks ago when we wrote a letter to AG Holder two weeks ago demanding criminal prosecution of Massey and its CEO Don Blankenship. Sunday we interviewed RFK Jr about this, and yesterday we put out a press release asking, Where are the prosecutors? Over the past 24 hours, two of the three criminal investigations we have asked for—Goldman Sachs and Massey Energy have materialized.
Update 5/3/10: STC Offers $50,000 Reward For Information That Massey Energy Paid Bribes To Federal Officials. STC today offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any Massey Energy executive official for paying a bribe to any federal official for any purpose, including to cover-up or ignore safety violations, pass legislation, or install or appoint pro-Massey people in key oversight positions.
“Our letter and the new FBI criminal investigation of Massey provide a strong basis to believe that Massey Energy, Don Blankenship and/or other executive Massey staff spent vast amounts of money to ensure that federal officials overlooked its pattern of criminal activity,” said STC spokesman Kevin Zeese. “Although we did not use the word ‘bribe’ in our original letter to the Attorney General, we now believe that it is appropriate to for law enforcement to look at whether the payments made by Massey to Senator Mitch McConnell, his wife, the MSHA, the NRSC and the Chamber constituted bribes under Section 201 of the federal bribery statute. That statute specifically prohibits the direct or indirect giving of anything of value to any federal official to do anything that benefits the giver. Clearly, Massey benefitted from from payments to Senator McConnell, the Chamber and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. We now call on the Attorney General to investigate these payments as well as other alleged payments from the perspective of Section 201. And, to help with this investigation, we are offering a fifty thousand dollar reward for hard information that will stand up in court and lead to the arrest and conviction of any Massey executive staff who paid a bribe.”
The identity of those who contact the StopTheChamber.com tip line will be kept strictly confidential. The campaign has set up a two ways to accept tips -- 1-888-4U-CHAMBR (1-888-482-4627) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update 7/15/10: STC Re-Offers 200K Reward For Information Leading To The Arrest And Conviction of Tom Donohue. See press release here.
Update 7/20/10: Chamber lawyers threaten PR Newswire over our press release about Chamber criminal activity. PR Newswire buckles and pulls press release off its server, but release remains on the web. This is the third time Chamber lawyers have threatened other parties over our work. Robert Luskin contacted a major publication demanding that it remove an article written by Kevin Zeese about Massey Energy and Don Blankenship engaging in criminal activity. The publication refused. The following day, Chamber lawyers contacted our PR firm and asked the head to stop issuing our press releases. She refused.
Update 8/4/10: STC asks FBI to create task force to investigate and prosecute Chamber crimes. Chamber whistleblower contacted STC with detailed information about fraud, campaign finance violations and financial improprieties by Tom Donohue. Kevin Zeese immediately wrote a letter to the FBI and Department of Justice with copies of the communication. See copy here. The insider compares Donohue to Abramoff, Scanlon and Maddoff in way he scams people to serve his own interests.
Update 8/9/10: Attorney Files Document Holds With Chamber And American Crossroads In Preparation For Legal Action. Election attorney Bob Fitrakis filed document hold letters today as the first step to litigation alleging fraud, campaign finance violations and money laundering.
Update 9/10/10; Tax Fraud Charges Brought Against The Chamber Watchdog group charges in a complaint filed today with the Internal Revenue Service that the Chamber violated tax codes by laundering millions of dollars meant for charitable work from a group with ties to the insurance giant A.I.G. See IRS Filing here.
Update 10/7/10: Groups rally at Chamber building to oppose foreign money in US elections. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2NwD52Me5U
Update 10/9/10: Obama Calls Chamber "A Threat To Democracy" because of foreign spending on elections.
Update 10/11/10: For the past year, StopTheChamber.com has been urging the FBI and Department of Justice to investigate various activities of the Chamber that violate federal law. Now, MoveOn.org has joined these calls with a letter to the DOJ demanding an "immediate criminal investigation into the use by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce of contributions by foreign nationals to pay for advertising advocating the election or defeat of candidates for federal office." MoveOn has set up a petition for citizens to sign supporting the investigation.
Update 10/15/10: New IRS Complaint Filed Against Chamber and Donohue for Tax Fraud and Perjury. Click here to read the complaint.
Update: 10/15/10: StopTheChamber Reports Threats To Law Enforcement Officials, http://www.velvetrevolution.us/images/FBI_Chamber_Threats_10-16-10.pdf. Over the past several days, supporters of the Chamber of Commerce, Karl Rove and Andrew Brietbart have been making threats against StopTheChamber and VelvetRevolution in an attempt to back them away from their campaign to expose the illegal activities going on at the Chamber. These threats have been made, via email, blog posts and by phone. VR has been “warned” to stop exposing the Chamber. On Friday, a person involved with VR met with law enforcement personnel and provided names and other documents as evidence of the threats. StopTheChamber has made two other complaints to the FBI about threats from the Chamber, see here and here.
These attacks and threats appear to be coordinated, and VR has been warned that more attacks are in the works. "We have asked the FBI and Department of Justice to form a task force to investigate the thuggish tactics of The Chamber, Andrew Breitbart and Karl Rove," said the groups attorney and spokesperson Kevin Zeese. "We take this threat seriously and remind everyone that Michael Connell was threatened by Karl Rove shortly before the 2008 election and ended up dead a few weeks later under very suspicious circumstances. We received a warning about that threat and passed it on to the Department of Justice but they did not protect Mr. Connell. We are determined to make sure that the FBI does not make that same mistake again. According to other information that we have passed on to law enforcement officials from a Chamber whistleblower, the Chamber is engaged in a massive criminal enterprise involving fraud, money laundering and tax violations. The whistleblower has provided a roadmap for law enforcement to follow the money that could lead to criminal charges against the top Chamber officials. This Chamber is using its bullying tactics against us in an attempt to intimidate us against cooperating further with the FBI. They have been feeding the right wing press with a smear campaign paid for by Chamber opposition researchers in order to distract from its own criminality. The Chamber has also sent threatening letters to VR’s Public Relations firms and to the editor of a major publication demanding that they not publish any information about the Chamber’s criminal activity. Because we are cooperating with the FBI, these actions clearly constitute obstruction of justice."
Update: 11/24/10: Tom Delay convicted of money laundering for funneling money through GOP groups to manipulate elections. We urge the DOJ to prosecute Tom Donohue and Karl Rove for similar conduct.
Update: 12/1/10: Chamber Board member Don Blankenship resigns with the full weight of a criminal investigation bearing down on him. We urge Mr. Blankenship to enter into a cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors and tell all about other corporate criminals including Tom Donohue.
Update: 12/7/10: At least 40 local Chambers have recently quit the US Chamber because of its partisan politics. We urge all local Chambers to follow that lead.
Update: 12/28/10: Last week we wrote to Tom Delay’s trial Judge urging him to impose a sentence of at least ten years in prison on Mr. Delay for violating campaign finance laws. See full letter here. Mr. Delay was convicted by a Texas jury for engaging in conduct similar to what Tom Donohue has allegedly done in the 2010 mid-term election — laundering money, comingling funds and misleading election officials. We asked that the Judge impose a long prison term in order to punish Mr. Delay and to deter others from violating campaign finance laws. We will be launching a new grassroots campaign in the coming days to identify states in which the Chamber and American Crossroads placed ads so that citizens of those states can urge their local State District Attorneys and United States Attorneys to bring criminal charges against those groups and their principals for violating campaign finance and tax laws. We will work with those prosecutors and provide them with whistleblower and other information we have received about the illegal activities they have identified inside those groups. Our efforts will help to ensure that the next election will not be corrupted by secret corporate money.
Update: 12/29/10: We are re-issuing our reward and raising it to $250,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Tom Donohue for engaging in criminal activity during the 2010 election season. Specifically, we are seeking hard, documented information from people in the know, insiders and whistleblowers about illegal fundraising by the Chamber, illegal receipt or solicitation of foreign funding by and for the Chamber, illegal comingling of funds throughout the Chamber, illegal campaign finance violations by the Chamber, illegal tax violations by the Chamber, illegal compensation by Tom Donohue, and illegal threats against us and others by or on behalf of the Chamber. Those who provide this information will have their identities protected. We are seeking this information to assist law enforcement.
Update: 1/9/11: Today we wrote a letter to the Department of Justice requesting that it consider in its investigation of the Chamber the fact that the Chamber and its de facto partner American Crossroads, funded candidates who used highly charged, vitriolic death language in their campaigns that contributed to the massacre in Tucson yesterday. For example, both groups spent millions to support the candidacy of Sharon Angle, who argued that "Second Amendment remedies" could stop the tyranny of Congress. Both groups supported numerous Sarah Palin candidates whose opponents she has identified with crosshairs, urging people to "take aim" at them, to "reload" and "target" them. Both groups have "declared war" on Obama and talked about "killing" his legislation and agenda. The funding of these candidates who use weapons of death metaphors against other candidates is akin to funding and providing material support to terrorist groups that call for jihad and death to America. The DOJ should use the criminal statutes of the United States to shut down these anti democratic funding operations.
Update: 1/18/11: We Call On FBI To Investigate Chamber Funding Of Candidates Who Support Violence
Today, we sent a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller requesting that the FBI investigate and prosecute IRS and FCC approved organizations that fund and promote violence against political candidates and others. See full letter here: We have been warning for years about the far right inciting violence, and Frank Schaeffer, who started the StopTheChamber.com campaign with us, has gone on record as saying that these threats are a product of "lobbyist run" groups who have "a small army ... at their beck and call." He calls them, "American Brown Shirts at the ready." He names Freedom Works and American For Prosperity for being major supporters of intimidation tactics.
But its not just Dick Armey’s Brown Shirts that have engaged in this reprehensible conduct. In fact, during the 2010 election campaign, another lobbyist group, the United States Chamber of Commerce spent $162,000 to support Jesse Kelly in his eliminationist attacks on Gabrielle Giffords. And lobbyist tied group, American Crossroads/Crossroads GPS poured millions of dollars in ads supporting Sarah Palin backed candidates, including Sharon Angle alone with over $1.5 million who advocated "Second Amendment remedies" against her opponents. In fact, Sharon Angle was supported by more than 20 registered organizations with expenditures topping almost $8 million. Glenn Beck supported Michelle Bachman with free airtime after she asked her constituents to be "armed and dangerous," and he held a fundraiser for the Chamber of Commerce which declared war on President Obama. FOX Chairman Rupert Murdoch helped fund the Chamber’s ad campaigns with a million dollar donation. Other groups authorized by the Internal Revenue Service also provided funding and material support to these groups and candidates that promoted violence against other candidates.
The IRS should not be authorizing or granting tax-exempt status to groups such as SarahPac, the Chamber of Commerce, American Crossroads, Freedom Works and Americans for Prosperity that support and fund extremists who foment violence against fellow Americans and the United States Government under the guise of legitimate political activity. Many of these organizations are registered and operating for the promotion of the "public welfare" or as business leagues yet they are funding candidates that undermine democracy with threats of violence. Moreover, the FCC should not be granting licenses to news and media organizations that allow commentators to call for violence against fellow Americans whether directly or with coded words and commentary.
The DOJ has used criminal prosecutions against those who provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations. While Fox News, SarahPac, the Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads are not designated terrorist organizations; they have provided funding and material support for people, candidates and groups that have used language advocating violence against public servants, and violence has occurred as a result. Clearly, these groups should be shuttered, and the principals behind them held accountable for crossing the line that has led to violence. We call for the FBI to bring them to justice.