Chamber Revs Its Money Machine

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The US Chamber of Commerce is reloading.

On the heels of the Chamber’s midterm election victories, where it helped elect a raft of conservative, free market candidates, the lobbying behemoth is hitting up its members anew for more cash to fight new proposed regulations here in Washington. As the Center for Public Integrity’s Peter Stone reports on Wednesday, the Chamber latest fundraising push targets big banks, health insurers, and oil companies in an effort to drum up more money for lobbying, advertising, and even lawsuits when necessary.

The crux of the Chamber’s latest pitch is all too familiar. A “tsunami of regulations” by the Obama administration amounts to the “biggest single threat to job creation” in the US, as Chamber chairman Tom Donohue put it recently. With that in mind, the Chamber’s goals include defanging the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, battling new greenhouse gas reduction rules from the Environmental Protection Agency, and influencing how President Obama’s historic health care reform bill is implemented in the coming months.

So has the Chamber had any success with its cash call? Sure looks like it. At least one major oil corporation has cut a six-figure check to the Chamber, Stone reports, while deep-pocketed private equity funds including KKR and the Blackstone Group are leaning toward funding the Chamber’s anti-regulation war chest on financial issues.

Here’s more from Stone:

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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