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The United States Chamber of Commerce (USCC) is a business-oriented American lobbying group.

Politically, the Chamber usually supports Republican political candidates, though it has occasionally supported conservative Democrats.[2][3] The Chamber is the largest lobbying group in the U.S., spending more money than any other lobbying organization on a yearly basis.[4][5]

United States Chamber of Commerce building at 1615 H Street, NW, in Washington, D.C. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In late 2011 it was revealed that the Chamber's computer system was breached from November 2009 to May 2010 by Chinese hackers. The purpose of the breach appeared to be gain information related to the Chamber's lobbying regarding Asian trade policy.[22]

Since a 1971 internal memo by Lewis Powell advocating a more active role in cases before United States Supreme Court, the Chamber has found increasing success in litigation. Under the Burger and Rehnquist Courts the Chamber was on the prevailing side 43% and 56% of the time, respectively, but under the Roberts Court, the Chamber's success rate rose to 68% as of June 21, 2012.[23]

Positions taken

Politically, the US Chamber of Commerce is considered to be on the political right, sometimes described as far right, but is known to take positions that many Republicans, particularly populists, do not support.[24]

Legislation

Court cases

Lobbying expenditures

The Chamber has emerged as the largest lobbying organization in America. The Chamber's lobbying expenditures in 2018 were nearly 30 percent larger than those of the second-biggest spender, the National Association of Realtors at $72.8 million.

International network

As of October 2010, the Chamber had a worldwide network of 115 American Chamber of Commerce affiliates located in 108 countries.[61] The US Chamber says that a relative handful of the Chamber's 300,000 members are "non-U.S.-based (foreign) companies." It claims that, "No foreign money is used to fund political activities." A US Chamber executive has said that the organization has had "foreign multinationals" (foreign companies) as members for "over a century, many for decades."[62] The US Chamber states that it receives approximately $100,000 annually in membership dues from its foreign affiliates, out of an annual budget of $200 million.[62][63]

Electoral activities

In the 2008 election cycle, aggressive ads paid for by the USCC attacked a number of Democratic congressional candidates (such as Minnesota's DFL Senate candidate Al Franken) and supported a number of Republican candidates including John Sununu, Gordon Smith, Roger Wicker, Saxby Chambliss and Elizabeth Dole.

During the 2010 campaign cycle, the Chamber spent $32 million, 93 percent of which was to help Republican candidates.[64] The Chamber's spending out of its general funds was criticized as illegal under campaign finance laws.[65][66][67][68] In a front-page article titled "Large Donations Aid U.S. Chamber in Election Drive", The New York Times reported that the Chamber used contributions in campaigns without separating foreign and domestic contributions, which if true would appear to contravene prohibitions on lobbying by foreign nations and groups. In question was the Chamber's international branches, "AmChams", whose funds are unaccounted for and perhaps mix into the general collection.[66][69][70][71] All branches, corporations, and members of the Chamber pay dues; the question is how they divide the money for expenses in national campaigns.

The truth of these allegations is unknown, as neither the Chamber nor its detractors can provide any concrete evidence to support or refute the allegations.[72] In reference to the matter, Tom Donohue wrote his council and members on October 12, 2010. He stated, "Let me be clear. The Chamber does not use any foreign money to fund voter education activities—period. We have strict financial controls in place to ensure this. The funds we receive from American Chambers of Commerce abroad, bilateral business councils, and non-U.S.-based global companies represent a small fraction of our more than $200 million annual revenues. Under our accounting system, these revenues are never used to support any political activities. We are in full compliance with all laws and regulations."[73][74][75] Organizations Moveon.org, Think Progress, and People for the American Way rallied against the Chamber at the Justice Department to start an injunction for a criminal investigation.[76][77] The Chamber is not required to produce fundraising records.[78]

President [61] The US Chamber says that a relative handful of the Chamber's 300,000 members are "non-U.S.-based (foreign) companies." It claims that, "No foreign money is used to fund political activities." A US Chamber executive has said that the organization has had "foreign multinationals" (foreign companies) as members for "over a century, many for decades."[62] The US Chamber states that it receives approximately $100,000 annually in membership dues from its foreign affiliates, out of an annual budget of $200 million.[62][63]

Electoral activities

In the 2008 election cycle, aggressive ads paid for by the USCC attacked a number of Democratic congressional candidates (such as Minnesota's DFL Senate candidate Al Franken) and supported a number of Republican candidates including John Sununu, Gordon Smith, Roger Wicker, Saxby Chambliss and Elizabeth Dole.

During the 2010 campaign cycle, the Chamber spent $32 million, 93 percent of which was to help Republican candidates.[64] The Chamber's spending out of its general funds was criticized as illegal under campaign finance laws.[65][66][67][68] In a front-page article titled "Large Donations Aid U.S. Chamber in Election Drive", The New York Times reported that the Chamber used contributions in campaigns without separating foreign and domestic contributions, which if true would appear to contravene prohibitions on lobbying by foreign nations and groups. In question was the Chamber's international branches, "AmChams", whose funds are unaccounted for and perhaps mix into the general collection.In the 2008 election cycle, aggressive ads paid for by the USCC attacked a number of Democratic congressional candidates (such as Minnesota's DFL Senate candidate Al Franken) and supported a number of Republican candidates including John Sununu, Gordon Smith, Roger Wicker, Saxby Chambliss and Elizabeth Dole.

During the 2010 campaign cycle, the Chamber spent $32 million, 93 percent of which was to help Republican candidates.[64] The Chamber's spending out of its general funds was criticized as illegal under campaign finance laws.

During the 2010 campaign cycle, the Chamber spent $32 million, 93 percent of which was to help Republican candidates.[64] The Chamber's spending out of its general funds was criticized as illegal under campaign finance laws.[65][66][67][68] In a front-page article titled "Large Donations Aid U.S. Chamber in Election Drive", The New York Times reported that the Chamber used contributions in campaigns without separating foreign and domestic contributions, which if true would appear to contravene prohibitions on lobbying by foreign nations and groups. In question was the Chamber's international branches, "AmChams", whose funds are unaccounted for and perhaps mix into the general collection.[66][69][70][71] All branches, corporations, and members of the Chamber pay dues; the question is how they divide the money for expenses in national campaigns.

The truth of these allegations is unknown, as neither the Chamber nor its detractors can provide any concrete evidence to support or refute the allegations.[72] In reference to the matter, Tom Donohue wrote his council and members on October 12, 2010. He stated, "Let me be clear. The Chamber does not use any foreign money to fund voter education activities—period. We have strict financial controls in place to ensure this. The funds we receive from American Chambers of Commerce abroad, bilateral business councils, and non-U.S.-based global companies represent a small fraction of our more than $200 million annual revenues. Under our accounting system, these revenues are never used to support any political activities. We are in full compliance with all laws and regulations."[73][74][75] Organizations Moveon.org, Think Progress, and People for the American Way rallied against the Chamber at the Justice Department to start an injunction for a criminal investigation.[76][77] The Chamber is not required to produce fundraising records.[78]

President Barack Obama and other legislators asked the IRS and Federal Elections Commission to ensure that the foreign funds that the Chamber receives are not used for political activities.[79][80] Obama criticized the Chamber for not disclosing its contributors.[81] The Chamber has responded that "No foreign money is used to fund political activities." [62] After the election, the Chamber reiterated the nature of Obama's policy dictated action from the Chamber, however the conflict would not be made "personal".[82][83]

In addition to the expenditures from the Chamber's own funds, in 2010 its political action committee gave $29,000 (89 percent) to Republican candidates and $3,500 (11 percent) to Democratic candidates.[84] The Chamber's PAC received a total of 76 donations from individual donors ($200 or more donation) totaling $79,852 in 2007–2008, or an average of $1050 per donation, and three donations per month.[85]

Despite more than $33 million spent supporting candidates in the 2012 Congressional races, Chamber-backed candidates lost 36 out of the 50 elections in which the Chamber participated.[86]

In late 2013 the Chamber announced it would distribute campaign contributions in "10s" of Republican primary elections to oppose the Tea Party movement and create a "more governable Republican party."[87] In early 2014 Tom Donohue clarified that the push would be to elect "pro-business" members of Congress "who favor trade, energy development and immigration reform".[88]

As of the organization's website in 2019, executive leadership of the U.S. Chamber includes:[89]