You are hereCenter for Public Integrity: Chamber Seeks Cash From Insurers, Financial Firms For New Effort

Center for Public Integrity: Chamber Seeks Cash From Insurers, Financial Firms For New Effort

Health Reform and Financial Rules Targeted by Anti-Regulation Drive; EPA Rules Too 

December 1, 2010- Even as it plowed tens of millions of dollars into ads this year to help mostly Republicans notch Congressional victories, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was initiating a new effort to raise millions more from energy, health insurance, financial services, and other firms to fund a new anti-regulatory campaign.

The latest initiative includes such top business priorities as fighting the regulation of greenhouse gases by the Environmental Protection Agency; curbing the power of the recently created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and trying to ease the implementation costs of the new health care reforms for insurers and businesses. The Chamber has created a regulatory advocacy unit run by its top lobbyist, Bruce Josten, to shepherd the program.

The Chamber’s message appears to be working: at least a handful of companies, including some in the energy sector,  have opened their wallets wider in the past few months, say K Street fundraising sources familiar with the Chamber’s latest solicitations.

Several oil giants, including Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp., have been solicited by the Chamber for funding for the new drive, and at least one of them has agreed to write a six-figure check, according to two energy lobbyists who requested anonymity. The new funds are being donated on top of the annual dues that the companies pay to the Chamber.

Since the Nov. 2 election, a pair of top Chamber executives, David Chavern and David Hirschmann, have made fundraising pitches to several New York financial powers, including at least three large private equity firms — The Blackstone Group, KKR and Texas Pacific Group — other financial lobbyists said. It seems likely that some will donate funds for the anti-regulatory drive, they added.

Also targeted are several major health insurers that last year kicked in much of the $86 million that was funneled through America’s Health Insurance Plans to the Chamber. That money was spent on a huge but unsuccessful advertising effort to kill health care legislation. A health industry source says that he’s not certain how the new Chamber pitch is going with that sector.

Josten told the Center that “it’s natural you’re going to solicit people who have expressed and supported your previous efforts.” Josten said that the effort is “getting some receptivity,” noting that the threat of new regulations “is not lost on the business world.”

The Chamber’s fresh initiative will include beefed-up lobbying, new advertising, online projects and litigation to thwart regulations it opposes. “We’ll look for opportunities to challenge regulations,” Josten explained.  Some of these challenges are going to be “legislative, some are going to be regulatory and some will be in the courts.”



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