The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Doesn’t Want Your Voice Heard

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn’t want American government to be run by the American people. Year after year, the Chamber is by far the biggest lobbyist in Washington, and this year looks to be no different. The first quarter’s lobbying disclosure reports just came in, and the Chamber together with its Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) spent $25.2 million between the months of January, February and March.

That’s $8.4 million on lobbying per month.

$280,000 per day.

$11,666 per hour (if lobbying 24 hours a day).

The Chamber has spent over $1 billion on lobbying since 1998 – more than the next three biggest lobbyists combined over that time.

Why does this matter? Big companies do a lot of lobbying on their own, but the Chamber allows them to do more lobbying anonymously. They can get all of the political capital without risking any of the consumer backlash that would come with attaching their names to their political lobbying activities.

A glance at the Chamber’s first quarter lobbying report shows it lobbies on such things as genetically modified organisms, the Clean Water Act, Dodd-Frank, the Volcker Rule, the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the “Coal Jobs Protection Act of 2013,” fracking and the Affordable Care Act.

The Chamber isn’t required to disclose its contributors (so it doesn’t), but we analyzed the size of its received contributions and found that just 64 donations made up more than half of the money it raised in 2012.

Big donors lobbying together on a massive scale, behind a veil of secrecy, telling the government what to do about our food, our water, our financial system, our employment laws, huge trade agreements, the fate of our climate, our access to health care and so much more.

As The New York Times wrote, “The next time a lawmaker or a corporate executive tries to persuade you that Washington is an even playing field, responsive to the concerns of all constituents, feel free to point them to the quarterly lobbying report of the United States Chamber of Commerce.”

Our social studies textbooks taught us that American democracy was of the people, by the people and for the people. But the Chamber is doing everything it can to subvert that ideal – regardless of all ramifications for people and the planet.

Sam Jewler is the communications officer for Public Citizen’s U.S. Chamber Watch program.