In the United States, elections are hypothetically free and an exemplification of the peoples’ voices in choosing their representatives to govern and look out for their best interests. However, American politics and elections have become exercises in spending with victory dependent on the biggest checkbook and who can besmirch their opponent with the greatest acuity. At least American politics were not influenced or controlled by foreign governments like some developing third world country, even though such influence and control would be coveted by countries like China, India, or South Korea. The prohibition on foreign intervention in American elections was lifted with the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision, and the ill-effects of foreign meddling were evident in the 2010 midterm elections. Last week, it was reported here that President Obama penned an executive order that assuaged the damage the Supreme Court caused with their decision that possibly signaled the end of corporate, foreign influence on our elections.
The organization that benefited the most from the Citizen’s United decision has lashed out at President Obama for his proposed executive order, and promises to fight to keep unrestricted corporate and foreign money flowing to Republicans to insure America remains governed by oligarchs. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has assaulted Obama’s proposed executive order and threatened to fight the president to preserve the anonymity of donors to Republican candidates whether they are foreign or domestic corporate entities. In an interview with the New York Times, R. Bruce Josten, an executive vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and lobbyist, said the Chamber “is not going to tolerate a back door attempt” by the White House to silence private sector opponents. Josten serves in no position of authority in government, but as is usually the case, conservative lobbyists think of themselves as lawmakers and drivers of policy like conservative think tanks Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, and the Cato Institute.
Josten likened the looming battle with President Obama to the world’s attempt to depose Libyan dictator, Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi, and said, “We will fight it through all available means,” and referenced Libya saying, “To quote what they say every day on Libya, all options are on the table.” Earlier in the year it was reported that the Chamber engaged a private security firm to hack into, sabotage, and smear the Chamber’s political opponents such as Think Progress, Move On, and SEIU among others; groups that were dedicated to transparency and advocacy for the American people. The Chamber of Commerce is a militant, secretive, and dastardly organization whose goal is promoting foreign corporations; they will use any means to achieve their goal.
Leave it the Chamber of Commerce to threaten the President of the United States and equate him with a dictator for promoting transparency in the election process. Of course, the Chamber is afraid of what campaign contribution disclosures will uncover. In the lead up to the 2010 midterm elections, they ran large ad-campaigns targeting Democratic candidates using secret corporate funds, and more than likely, foreign money. There are pundits who claim the Chamber of Commerce only exists to conceal the identity of corporations that seek to influence legislation without revealing their names or brand.
The Chamber has a record of soliciting donations from foreign corporations and Think Progress reported that the Chamber received a minimum of $885,000 from more than 80 foreign companies; that was disclosed. There is no telling the amounts collected from foreign corporations that were not disclosed because of the Citizen’s United decision. The Chamber has given corporations cover for campaign contributions in the past, and Chamber president Tom Donohue has taken credit for being the driving force behind the Chamber as a front group. A 2001 Wall Street Journal story said that Donohue’s “most striking innovation has been to offer individual companies and industries the chance to use the chamber as a means of anonymously pursuing their own political ends.” The story reported that companies from Wal-Mart to DaimlerChrysler to the American Council of Life Insurers paid $1 million each to fund an ad campaign aimed at electing business-friendly judges. “The participants had all been targets of costly lawsuits, and the chamber’s campaign gave them a way to fight back without disclosing their identities.”
It was only a matter of time before the Chamber joined forces with other corporate groups in the battle against fairness in the election process. The Business Roundtable, a powerful association of corporate executives strongly urged the White House not to move forward with the executive order claiming it was, “yet another example of regulatory over-reach.” Last week, in a letter to the White House, Republican senators accused President Obama of playing politics because they are desperate to keep their donors secret and cited the Constitution’s guarantee of free speech. However, the American people deserve to know which corporations or foreign governments are buying the legislators who take taxpayer money from programs like Medicare and repay corporations for their contributions. President Obama’s order does not restrict any corporation, foreign entity, or lobbyist from speaking out on any issue whether foreign or domestic.
The secret donations do restrict the rights of Americans who wish to speak out against injustices and bad policies perpetrated by corporations on consumers and minority groups. Last year, Target Corporation donated $150,000 to a business group in Minnesota that supported a Republican, openly anti-gay gubernatorial candidate. Subsequent exposure of the donation, Target Stores was boycotted by proponents of equal rights who exercised their 1st Amendment right of free speech. Without the contribution revelation, the boycotters would not have known Target supported anti-gay candidates. It’s a stretch, but the free speech issue can be twisted to support any side of an issue as the Chamber and Supreme Court knows all too well.
The Chamber of Commerce has a mental defect similar to the Koch Brothers, Heritage Foundation, and myriad religious organizations that are deluded in thinking they get to control the government and by extension, the American people. The Citizen’s United decision brings the Chamber of Commerce closer to achieving their goal and it’s why they feel emboldened to intimidate the president with militant threats. Fortunately, President Obama is not threatened by foreign entities or the likes of the foreign-corporation-controlled Chamber of Commerce. For the past year, Chamber president Donohue made the rounds to promote sending Americans’ jobs overseas and boasted that the Chamber assisted domestic corporations with outsourcing jobs; he also told American workers who lost their jobs to outsourcing to “stop whining.”
The Chamber of Commerce is not a friend of the American people and they have spent hundreds-of-millions of dollars to stop health care reform, financial reform, and penalties for corporations that send jobs overseas. Their contempt for the government, the Constitution, and the American people is equal to or greater than the Republican Party’s hatred for American values. They solicit secret foreign money to influence Republican legislators and are audacious enough to threaten the president for demanding, on behalf of the American people, to know who is buying their legislators. The American people deserve to know which foreign country is making domestic policy decisions whether it is China, Korea or Bahrain.
It is questionable if the Chamber is even a domestic organization, and just because their title is United States Chamber of Commerce, their behavior belies their name. They give themselves away as a foreign entity when the lobbyist, R. Bruce Josten referred to the president as an enemy, and that like Libya; all options are on the table. No decent American corporation, lobbyist, or citizen would make militant threats against the President of the United States unless they were a facsimile of an anti-American foreign government. The Chamber may have referred to Muammar el-Qaddafi when threatening the president, but doing so raises the question; who is really like Qaddafi?