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Under Fire From Democrats, Chamber of Commerce Helps Blue Dogs

3 years ago
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Republicans and their allies in business are howling that a Democratic charge that "secret foreign money" is fueling GOP campaigns is a dog that just won't hunt. Now the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is helping conservative Blue Dog Democrats in a bid to prove it is bipartisan after all.

The powerful business lobby quietly began running ads last week in the congressional districts of 10 endangered Democrats who opposed President Obama's health-care bill or have parted ways on taxes and other fiscal issues with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

The "voter education" ads were first spotted by political media trackers and have been all but lost in the sturm und drang over the chamber's cable-dubbed "plot to buy America."

"The chamber has a broad political program," spokesman J.P. Fielder told Politics Daily. "We're supporting pro-business candidates who have voted with the chamber," he said, noting that includes Democratic Senate hopeful Joe Manchin in West Virginia.

Among the lucky "dogs" getting help from the chamber are Reps. Glenn Nye in Virginia, Travis Childers in Mississippi and Alabama's Bobby Bright, the first Democrat to say he won't vote for Pelosi for speaker if he is re-elected.

In one "voter education ad," the narrator thanks Rep. Jim Marshall of Georgia for voting no on Obama's health-care bill. "Tell him to keep fighting for seniors and against Washington's government health care takeover," it urges.

Jessica Klonsky, a spokeswoman for Rep. Frank Kratovil, a freshman Democrat who represents Maryland's conservative Eastern Shore, would not comment on the ads running on his behalf. "We can't control what the chamber is doing," she said, "but the endorsement is just another example of (Kratovil's) independent leadership."

The officially nonpartisan lobby is spending nearly $1.9 million to help conservative House Democrats this year, according to Federal Election Commission records. That's a fraction of the nearly $22 million in outside expenditures that the Center for Responsive Politics calculates the chamber has plunked down. Most of that money has gone to Republicans.

The new ads are likely to do little to douse the firestorm over "attack ads" by outside groups. In campaign stops last week, Obama railed against the chamber for funding spots partly with dues paid by foreign corporations. The ads are "a threat to our democracy," he said. "The American people deserve to know who's trying to sway their elections."

The New York Times reported that "a closer examination shows that there is little evidence that what the chamber does in collecting overseas dues is improper or even unusual." Republicans have accused Democrats of hypocrisy since left-leaning labor unions helping Democrats also have dues-paying international affiliates.

The report didn't keep the Democratic National Committee from launching its own attack ad against the chamber. Such "shills for big business," it said, are taking "secret foreign money to influence our elections."

On Tuesday, after appearing to back down on the foreign connection, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs pushed back against critics. He said the president would continue to ask questions about GOP donors, whether they are foreign or domestic.

ThinkProgress, the liberal blog that first raised the specter of foreign influence, suggested the Democratic spots are a smokescreen. "While the chamber ads may lead many to believe that the organization is taking on a more bipartisan stance, the truth is that it has a long history of allying itself closely to Republicans," it said, noting the group's directors have given six times as much money to GOP candidates as Democrats.

"The chamber wants to give substance to its claim of being bipartisan. That matters for appearances, of course. But it also is important because the chamber does not in fact want to be wholly captured by a single party and thus lose its ability to negotiate with both parties," said Mark Rozell, a George Mason University political scientist.

"If the GOP wins the House, while some moderate-conservative Democrats also win with chamber support, that sends an even stronger message of the group's ability to hurt the president's standing," he said. "The message to Democrats over the next two years would be heard loudly: support this president, look what happens. Stick with us, then we can help you."

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18 Comments

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tenderlies1

I have come to the conclusion what we need is a real good Dictatorship because the people and its current form of Goverment no longer work's. We are fighting and arguing over silly stuff let alone major issues. It use to work because majority ruled we don't even have that anymore. Its fighting and bickoring and name calling as well as twisted accusations on both sides and it doesn't change with our Politicians as they set in office month after month and accomplish nothing because they can't work together and even blame each other for that The people are crazy and so are the politicians SO whats left to even vote for they are all alike and we have a people in this country that don't care about anything or anybody but them selves. For the first time in my life I am not very proud to be an American because we don't act American anymore

October 15 2010 at 12:55 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Rob & Kathy

If Democrats see themselves as "uniters", why do they continually try to make gender, race and class, wedge issues?...

October 13 2010 at 7:16 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Rob & Kathy's comment
pttypinkley

Because ya'll don't consider them equals. We TRY to make the playing field level, but ya'll keep pushing back. Uniters...we want EVERYONE to be included! Ya'll keep excluding certain people.

October 13 2010 at 7:26 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Kurt

There will be a day when Democrat and Republican will be gone. You will either be a conservative or a liberal with no room for moderation or compromise. It is that way now. Both parties should pull down their umbrelllas Republicans will for the most part be conservative and the Democrats the liberals.

October 13 2010 at 7:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rob & Kathy

Obama is friendly to business? With increased health insurance costs, increased capital gains taxes and cap and trade?...Strange way of being friendly...

October 13 2010 at 6:49 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
truthforfreedom

They'll be sorry! No good deed goes unpunished.

October 13 2010 at 6:03 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
ajcook111

Apparently a lot of the republican money is coming from the health insurance industry and the oil industry.

October 13 2010 at 3:22 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
jdatipp@yahoo.com

Nearly 100% on the Democratic side of the aisle are Lawyers. Lawyers screw both the rich, middle class and the poor. Which one of these are you? What part don't you understand? Vote Republican

October 13 2010 at 2:19 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
Rob & Kathy

This is just guilt by suggestion and innuendo. Cheap gutter politics...Make a baseless accusation and hope some of it sticks...

October 13 2010 at 11:53 AM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
Calvin Clary

I don't care who they are, in this day and time if the have a D attached to the end of their name, it might as well be named Manson. The Democrat party is so sullied by it's leadership that whomever is associated with it is in the same mud pit reputation as are they and as such, whatever organization supports ANY dem, then they've lost my support and that of my business.

October 13 2010 at 11:29 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Andy

George Soros, who is Hungarian, donated strongly to Obama in 2008. No comment by the left, now, about that. Today, Soros, who is not only Hungarian, but a Socialist also, announced he wouldn't be donating to Dems for this election. He doesn't feel it would be money well spent. The Dems are going down and he doesn't want to waste his money on losers. Enough said. 11:04

October 13 2010 at 11:04 AM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Andy's comment
bouncerdave2006

austrian?

October 13 2010 at 9:53 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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