Someone should tell CNN anchor Ali Velshi that attacking the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for its political activities is so last week.
During the “XYZ” segment of the hour he anchors of “CNN Newsroom” on Oct. 25, Velshi did his best impersonation of an MSNBC anchor and railed against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for its political activities. Velshi lamented the barrage of negative advertising in this campaign cycle and all but tied the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to it.
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“It is time now for the ‘XYZ of it,’” Velshi said. “The midterm elections are just over a week away, which means we are headed into the dirtiest most negative advertising cycle of the campaign. According to the group Campaign Media Analysis, almost half of all TV and other media campaign ads out there this election season are negative. One group out there is front and center – the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a tax-exempt advocate for American businesses that's come out strongly against President Obama's economic reform push and by the way many other things that this administration is trying to do.”
According to Velshi, the Chamber is allowing 4 percent of its membership to dictate its campaign message, despite not contemplating the possibility that its activities are in the interest of that other 96 percent.
“The Chamber touts itself as the world's largest business federation fighting for free enterprise in Congress,” Velshi continued. “While the Chamber can boast that more than 96 percent of its members are small businesses from across the country it stands accused of channeling huge sums of corporate money from the other 4 percent of its members into negative ad campaigns somewhat anonymously. That's because it's very hard to know just who is funding these ad blitzes. The donors are never publicly disclosed and the Chamber goes out of its way to keep them secret.”
And imagine this – Velshi argued there was some sort of negative connotation attached to big businesses acting in their best interest – whether it was against the so-called financial regulation reform that made its way through Congress earlier this year or a push to get Congress to legislatively limit lawsuits.
“Some donations can be pieced together through tax filings and other public records,” he said. “For example, The New York Times says Prudential Financial donated $2 million to the Chamber's ad campaigns to try to weaken financial reform. Eight million dollars came from a group consisting of Goldman Sachs, Chevron Oil and Dutch multinational insurer AEGON to wage a national campaign to put limits on suing big businesses. And no doubt similar money is going into individual races by way of expensive issue ads this election season.”
Then to top it off, Velshi cited the meme that the Chamber is getting secret money from foreign donors – one that has its roots from the left-wing blogosphere and pushed by the Obama White House. According to Velshi, while the Chamber’s activities are legal, they may not be ethical.
“President Obama has accused the Chamber of using foreign money to funds ad campaigns and individual races,” Velshi continued. “The Chamber denies that but some say it's besides the point. Because of the earlier Citizens United Supreme Court decision, big corporations have almost no real limits on how much they can spend to influence political issues. U.S. Chamber of Commerce knows this and is soliciting big business in a big way to fund its views. What it's doing is legal. Just another reminder that what's legal and what's ethical aren't always one and the same.”
But even The New York Times has questioned the wisdom of this tired argument Velshi is replaying. The Times admitted on Oct. 8 there wasn’t anything to substantiate the lefties’ accusation: “[T]here is little evidence that what the Chamber does in collecting overseas dues is improper or even unusual, according to both liberal and conservative election-law lawyers and campaign finance documents.”
“Organizations from both ends of the political spectrum, from liberal ones like the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the Sierra Club to conservative groups like the National Rifle Association, have international affiliations and get money from foreign entities while at the same time pushing political causes in the United States,” the Times continued.
If that’s indeed the case, will Velshi go after these organizations that are supporting Democratic candidates as aggressively as he has attacked the Chamber?