Calling Accounting to Account: The Abortion Funding Debate and the Chamber of Commerce’s Foreign Money

The Chamber of Commerce gets money from foreign citizens and foreign corporations for their general fund. From their general fund, the Chamber of Commerce spends millions on ads to influence our democracy–this we know thanks to Think Progress. The Chamber of Commerce claims that they have a system in place to prevent foreign money from being spent on elections, except they have not opened their books to the public or explained this “system” in any detail. Democrats have taken the very simple, logical step to argue that the Chamber is trying to buy our elections with foreign money.

Many in both the conservative and traditional media, recently including Bob Schieffer, have been critical of the connection drawn by Democrats. The problem is that, during the health care debate over abortion funding earlier this year, every conservative in politics endorsed the construct of money being fungible. Using the same logic that they demanded be applied to health insurance, they should clearly believe the Chamber is trying to influence our elections with money from foreigners.

Originally, the health care law included language from Lois Capps that required insurance companies selling policies that covered abortion on the partially subsidized exchanges pay for the procedure only from money from private individuals put in a special fund monitored by the HHS. Democrats designed this specially monitored fund idea so that no government money would pay for abortions. Conservative pundits and elected Republicans said that was not good enough and, in fact, government money would, in the end, fund abortions. They even claimed the Nelson amendment on abortion, which required individuals to write two separate checks, one just for abortion coverage, was insufficient because money is fungible. The logic being that, in practice, a company treats all its money on hand as interchangeable.

During the health care debate, elected Republicans and conservative pundits set an extremely high bar. Using the criteria they set for abortion funding, you must conclude the Chamber of Commerce’s political spending is completely tainted by the money they received from foreign entities. The Camber doesn’t even go as far as the “unacceptable” Capps language by providing public proof they pay for all campaign activity with a separate fund made up of only American donations. If Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader John Boehner actually believe what they said about corporate accounting during the health care debate, it is time for them to apply the same standards to the Chamber and denounce them for using money from foreign corporations to try to buy US elections.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at