United States Chamber of Commerce

The United States Chamber of Commerce is an ostensibly non-partisan 501(c)(6) business league. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, it has been Washington’s highest-spending lobbying group every year since 2001; in that time, it has spent over $1.1 billion to influence political outcomes.[1] Former Washington Post managing editor Robert Kaiser characterizes the Chamber’s ‘issue’ campaigns as “notorious for a relentless, even ruthless contentiousness. Truth or accuracy [has] yielded again and again to political expediency.”[2]

The Chamber supplements its lobbying by spending extensively to support favored politicians. In recent years, the Chamber has abandoned its non-partisan roots in favor of almost exclusively supporting Republican candidates. As Time detailed in 2014, “the number of Democrats endorsed by the Chamber has plunged from about three dozen in 2008 to just three only six years later.”[3] The Chamber’s spending in that election revealed an even starker divide – out of independent expenditures totaling $35.4 million, the Chamber spent just $125,000 to support a single Democratic candidate.[4]

The Chamber is reportedly considering intervening in Democratic primaries in 2016, “which could produce weakened nominees who would be more easily defeated by Republicans.”[5] As of September 23, 2015, the Chamber had already spent $2.7 million on 2016 federal races.[6]

[1]Lobbying – Top Spenders.” The Center for Responsive Politics, accessed 09/23/15

[2]How the Chamber of Commerce allied with the right and lost effectiveness.” Robert Kaiser, The Washington Post, 07/10/15

[3]The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is saving the GOP establishment at the ballot box.” Alex Altman, Time, 07/14/14

[4]US Chamber of Commerce – Targeted Spending, 2014 Cycle.” The Center for Responsive Politics, accessed 09/23/15

[5]Chamber weighs role in Democratic primaries.” Erica Werner, The Associated Press, 08/20/15

[6]US Chamber of Commerce – Outside Spending Summary 2016.” The Center for Responsive Politics, accessed 09/23/15