Worried that $400 billion in secret corporate slush funds is not enough to buy Republicans control of the Congress, Glenn Beck donated, on Oct.14, a check for $10,000 to the American Chamber of Commerce. After announcing his charitable "gift" on radio, he urged his listeners to also chip in for the cause.
Beck's move to launch a charity drive surprised many who remember his wooden-heart reaction to the plight of the unemployed. He has opposed extensions of unemployment benefits and has described the long-term jobless as "un-American, anti-capitalist, socialist losers."
The Chamber, however, is a fitting recipient for Beck's largess.
Investigations show that it is spending $75 million to push candidates who, if elected, will oppose new rules that discourage American firms from outsourcing jobs. Most of the candidates for whom the Chamber is trying to purchase congressional seats also want to repeal minimum wage laws, weaken workplace safety rules and destroy collective bargaining rights.
For those interested in transparency, the very public Beck donation does not add to the huge amounts of money whose source the Chamber is keeping under raps.
The Chamber is not the only purchaser of congressional seats that has drawn the outrage of people supportive of democratic elections.
Rupert Murdoch's media empire, another big player in the mid-terms, is running into some problems from its own shareholders.
Murdoch's News Corp. gave $1 million each to the Republican Governors Association and to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The Nathan Cummings Foundation, a large News Corp. shareholder, is demanding that the company disclose the use of corporate assets for "any and all political spending." It says it will bring the issue up on the floor at the company's shareholder meeting in New York on Oct. 15.
The Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, in an effort to draw attention away from its secret and foreign fund sources, is making false claims about union political funding.
The Chamber, noting that some AFL-CIO unions have members in Canada, is claiming that it is the AFL-CIO that is funding its election activity from foreign sources.
The AFL-CIO says all its member unions, including those with members in Canada, pay a monthly fee that is calculated on the number of their U.S., not Canadian members. It is generally called a "per capita tax," and derives exclusively from the U.S. members of those unions. Canadian union members, therefore, are not AFL-CIO members.
The AFL-CIO, its union affiliates, and their thousands of state and local affiliates annually file detailed public reports with the Department of Labor that itemize their receipts and payments. Any source of funds for the AFL-CIO or a union, and any recipient of payments by the AFL-CIO or a union, that amounts to $5,000 over the course of a year is itemized by name, date and amount, and the spending is further itemized by purpose.
"It is absurd," declared AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, "for the Chamber to equate an individual steelworker or clerk who lives and works in Canada and pays, say $120 annual dues to his or her local union that is an affiliate of a U.S.-based international union with a foreign corporation that pays tens of thousands of dollars a year to belong to the Chamber and that has important commercial interests at stake in the outcome of the American elections.