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Mole's Progressive Democrat

The Progressive Democrat Newsletter grew out of the frustration of the 2004 election. Originally intended for New York City progressives, its readership is now national. For anyone who wants to be alerted by email whenever this newsletter is updated (usually weekly), please send your email address and let me know what state you live in (so I can keep track of my readership).

Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

I am a research biologist in NYC. Married with two kids living in Brooklyn.

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  • Sunday, October 10, 2010

    Top Republican Donors: Communist China, Islamicist Saudi Arabia, Russia...

    A big secret leaked out recently. You see, one of the top donors to the Republican Party, the so-called "US" Chamber of Commerce (a pro-business, anti-labor organization) gets a large amount of its money from foreign nations, including Communist China, Russia and Saudi Arabia. These are not exactly nations known for their freedoms or their love of America. So one has to wonder, why do they support Republicans so much?

    From Think Progress:

    The largest attack campaign against Democrats this fall is being waged by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a trade association organized as a 501(c)(6) that can raise and spend unlimited funds without ever disclosing any of its donors. The Chamber has promised to spend an unprecedented $75 million to defeat candidates like Jack Conway, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jerry Brown, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), and Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA). As of Sept. 15th, the Chamber had aired more than 8,000 ads on behalf of GOP Senate candidates alone, according to a study from the Wesleyan Media Project. The Chamber’s spending has dwarfed every other issue group and most political party candidate committee spending. A ThinkProgress investigation has found that the Chamber funds its political attack campaign out of its general account, which solicits foreign funding. And while the Chamber will likely assert it has internal controls, foreign money is fungible, permitting the Chamber to run its unprecedented attack campaign. According to legal experts consulted by ThinkProgress, the Chamber is likely skirting longstanding campaign finance law that bans the involvement of foreign corporations in American elections....

    Previously, it has been reported that foreign firms like BP, Shell Oil, and Siemens are active members of the Chamber. But on a larger scale, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce appears to rely heavily on fundraising from firms all over the world, including China, India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Russia, and many other places. Of course, because the Chamber successfully lobbied to kill campaign finance reforms aimed at establishing transparency, the Chamber does not have to reveal any of the funding for its ad campaigns. Dues-paying members of the Chamber could potentially be sending additional funds this year to help air more attack ads against Democrats.

    Here’s how it works. Regular dues from American firms to the Chamber can range from $500 to $300,000 or more, depending on their size and industry, and can be used for any purpose deemed necessary by the Chamber leadership. For example, the health insurance giant Aetna has reported that it paid $100,000 in annual dues to the Chamber in the past. But for specific advocacy or advertising campaigns, corporations can hide behind the label of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and give additional money. Last year, alongside their regular dues, health insurance companies like Aetna secretly funneled up to $20 million to the Chamber for attack ads aimed at killing health reform (publicly, health insurance executives claimed they supported reform). Last week, Politico reported that News Corporation, the parent company of Fox News, gave an extra $1 million to the Chamber for its election season attack campaign.

    There are many reasons foreign corporations are seeking to defeat Democratic candidates this November. The Chamber has repeatedly sent out issue alerts attacking Democratic efforts to encourage businesses to hire locally rather than outsource to foreign counties. The Chamber has also bitterly fought Democrats for opposing unfettered free trade deals. To galvanize foreign businesses, the Chamber has commissioned former Ambassador Frank Lavin — who served as the McCain-Palin Asia campaign director and has appeared on television multiple times recently saying a Democratic Congress is bad for business — to speak before various foreign Chamber affiliates to talk about the stakes for the 2010 midterm elections.

    Because campaign finance laws prohibit foreign entities from contributing to political races here in America, we asked the Chamber to defend the legality of its fundraising operation. We have yet to receive a response. But as word of our investigation began to leak out yesterday, the Chamber informed Politico’s Mike Allen that it is now “preparing a response.”

    So the so-called "US" Chamber of Congress is funded by and serves the interests of foreign companies like BP (full name: British Petroleum) and Shell Oil (full name: Royal Dutch Shell) as well as foreign nations like China, Russia and Saudi Arabia. And the "US" Chamber of Commerce has made the defeat of Democrats a major priority this year. Simply put, Republicans and their supporters have become an arm of foreign companies out for their own gain. It is not about America for the Republican Party. It is about the profits of multi-national corporations and CEOs.

    For years now Republicans oppose building up America's infrastructure (e.g. repairing levees and bridges) but supported subsidies to oil. They have opposed creating jobs here in America developing local, Green Energy, but supported giving tax breaks to companies that send their jobs overseas. They have opposed Social Security and Medicare and Healthcare reform, claiming that they are socialist, yet they support and are supported by Communist China. Republicans seem to favor foreign nations, even ones like Saudi Arabia which was one of the main supporters of the Taliban and the origin of al-Qaeda, over working and middle class Americans. SOMETHING is majorly WRONG with today's Republican Party.

    If you want to help fight the BP...Shell Oil...Chinese...er...Saudi...er...Russian... er "US" Chamber of Commerce's attempts to push an anti-American agenda through the Republican Party, please support MoveOn's efforts to expose this probably illegal alliance among foreign nations, the "US" Chamber of Commerce, and the Republican Party. From MoveOn.org:

    News just broke that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—one of the biggest sources of corporate cash backing Republicans this year—has been using money from foreign corporations in India, Bahrain, and elsewhere to fund its attack ads, in apparent violation of the law.1

    This explosive news could shift the course of the election if the Chamber is forced to scale back and all the right-wing candidates they're helping have to answer for this.

    The Chamber knows that. Their strategy is to give no quarter and hope this blows over. In the last week they've actually spent millions more on ads targeted against progressive heroes including Russ Feingold.2

    So we've been up working overnight on a new emergency ad campaign aimed at those Republicans who've been benefiting from the Chamber's help and evidently from its foreign funding—and aimed at forcing the Chamber to reveal its secret contributors. We can launch these ads immediately to keep this story from dying.

    This is a huge opportunity but it wasn't in our election plan—so we need to raise $250,000 right away to do it. Can you contribute $50?

    The Chamber claims that it has internal systems to keep the money separate, but the new report shows that the foreign corporations donate directly to the Chamber's general fund, which is where the funding for their political attacks comes from. This would represent a shocking disregard for longstanding American campaign finance laws, all to advance a corporate, right-wing agenda of outsourcing jobs and giving huge tax breaks to multi-national corporations.3

    According to the report, the Chamber is allegedly raising money from firms in "China, India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Russia, and many other places." Even Russian banks and state-owned oil companies in Abu Dhabi may have contributed.

    The Chamber is spending more than any other group to back right-wing Republicans and attack progressives in the election. We need to fight back, and we're ready to leap into action—but first we need to know if we have enough funds.

    Can you contribute $50 immediately?

    Thanks for all you do.

    –Michael, Tim, Duncan, Marika, and the rest of the team


    1. "Exclusive: Foreign-Funded 'U.S.' Chamber Of Commerce Running Partisan Attack Ads," ThinkProgress, October 5, 2010

    2. "US Chamber spends more than $10 million on ads," Associated Press, October 7, 2010

    3. "U.S. Chamber comes out against Senate outsourcing bill," The Hill, September 23, 2010

    Keep this in mind in November. The so-called "grassroots" Tea Party is funded to a large degree by the wealthiest man in NYC (wealthier than Bloomberg), by BP, by Shell Oil and by Saudi and Chinese interests. Kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it?


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