(WASHINGTON) -- On Thursday, President Obama joined the gang of Democrats and liberal groups alleging the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is using foreign funds to influence American elections.
Referring to a study by the liberal group ThinkProgress that notes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has some funding sources abroad, including foreign corporations and American Chambers of Commerce around the world, Obama said, “just this week, we learned that one of the largest groups paying for these ads regularly takes in money from foreign corporations.”
The president then added, “groups that receive foreign money are spending huge sums to influence American elections, and they won’t tell you where the money for their ads come from.”
Chamber officials say money coming from foreign donors cannot be used for political activity under the 1907 Tillman Act, and that the charge is false.
Tita Freeman, vice president of communications at the chamber, said “this coordinated effort is a desperate attempt to silence those who support free enterprise and a diversion from their lack of progress on job creation.”
The chamber is planning on spending more than $75 million to help Republican candidates they perceives as business friendly.
ThinkProgress says 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.”
Chamber of Commerce director of media relations J.P. Fielder says that money from the AmChams and foreign corporations go to the general fund and then the international division so it is kept away from any political activities.
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