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CEO DATELINE – Senators call for investigation into U.S. Chamber lobbying disclosure

July 12, 2019
By Walt Williams

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Two Democratic senators have asked the secretary of the Senate to investigate whether the U.S. Chamber of Commerce failed to disclose on whose behalf it is lobbying.

In a July 10 letter, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said their offices reviewed the Chamber’s lobbying reports from 2008 to 2019 and concluded the business group didn’t disclose which of its members funded and directed its lobbying. They cite the Lobbying Disclosure Act, which was amended by Congress in 2007 to strengthen reporting requirements.

“As the Chamber spends more on federal lobbying than any other entity, its failure to comply with the law would raise questions regarding Congress’s ability to track the efforts of special interests to influence public policy,” the senators said. “Powerful interest groups should not be allowed to flout transparency requirements designed to promote public confidence in our government.”

Warren and Whitehouse requested the secretary to review the Chamber’s reports. “Should you determine that the Chamber is not in compliance, we ask that you take appropriate steps to ensure that its future lobbying reports are compliant and that its past lobbying reports are amended to bring them into compliance.”

In a statement to Politico, the Chamber said the senators need to “get their facts straight.”

“The question to be asked of Ms. Warren and Mr. Whitehouse is whether they are filing similar complaints of non-profit organizations including their progressive allies who regularly engage in their constitutional right to petition our government,” the Chamber said. “Or, is this just another attempt to silence those with whom Ms. Warren and Mr. Whitehouse disagree?”

However, at least two attorneys contacted by the newspaper said the letter does at least raise questions about the Chamber’s disclosures, although they noted the law in question is infrequently enforced.