The nation’s largest and most formidable lobbying group is apparently unsatisfied with being able to spend unlimited amounts of cash to influence elections — they insist they should be able to do so in secret.
Bloomberg News reports that “U.S. companies would lose their ability to secretly finance political advertising run by organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce under a bill being considered by Democratic lawmakers.”
The effort, led by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), would temper the impacts of the monumental Supreme Court ruling this year.
The Chamber forcefully attacked the bill and questioned the intentions of the two Democrats.
“Citizens United is being used as a pretext to pursue much broader regulations of the private sector in the political arena,” Steven Law, the Chamber’s general counsel, told Bloomberg. “Their interest is to intimidate the business community into unilateral disarmament.”
The Chamber has spent over $600 million to influence politics since 1998. It has dwarfed even the second-place American Medical Association’s $220 million in the same period, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Its members are poised to step up their influence in Washington following the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission verdict. Corporations like ExxonMobil, a major force within the group, often channel their efforts through the Chamber, hiding their own identity in political ads.
The Schumer-Van Hollen bill would make this illegal — and possibly make the organizations less effective in pushing their end-game, according to Yale law professor Heather Gerken.
“Corporations may be the one institution less popular than Congress,” Gerken said. “Those well-funded campaigns may be far less popular if the people know who’s funding them.”
Meanwhile, the Republican Party is working to further loosen campaign finance restrictions.
“Legal top gun Ted Olson just told USA TODAY that he’s filed an appeal with the Supreme Court on behalf of the Republican National Committee in a case that challenges federal limits on party fundraising,” the paper reported this week.