Washington Bureau

11.17.13

U.S Chamber Of Commerce's Big Money Fail In 2012 Elections

The pro-business lobbying group spent almost $54 million as a tax-exempt nonprofit in the 2012 election.

The U.S Chamber of Commerce spent a lot of money on the 2012 election. The organization, which is a 501(c)6 tax exempt trade organization, spent $53.8 million on “direct and indirect campaign activities” according to a tax form obtained by the Center for Responsive Politics and provided to The Daily Beast. 501(c)6 are able to maintain their tax exemption as a “trade organization” provided they spend less than half of their money on political activity. The pro-business lobbying group, which gives almost entirely to Republicans, was one of the three biggest political nonprofits in the last election cycle.

In a statement to the IRS, the Chamber explained its political spending by saying that it “engaged in public education activities in support of its mission, which includes advancing the interests and concerns of business, economic growth and the free enterprise system. In pursuit of these goals, the Chamber spends funds directly or works with other organizations with similar missions.”

The group also spent lavishly on some of its high-ranking executives. At least six employees made over one million dollars in 2012. In contrast, this is even more millionaires than at least one Major League Baseball team employed in 2013, the Houston Astros . The only difference is that Astros had a far better won-loss record. In fact, while Houston’s baseball team finished with a dismal winning percentage of .315 in the most recent season, it still exceeded the Chamber of Commerce’s mark in the 2012 election cycle when, according to Bloomberg News, it finished with 14-36 record, a .280 percentage.

The Chamber of Commerce only made two direct political donations. It gave $50,000 apiece to two different groups, Parents for Education Reform and Yes For Idaho Education, which were campaigning against referendums to overturn laws passed by the legislature that limited collective bargaining and instituted merit pay for Idaho teachers. Needless to say, the Chamber’s effort in this race was for naught and voters rejected both of these laws by significant margins.