Stop the U.S. Chamber of Commerce advertising blitz

Friday, October 27, 2000

For Immediate Release: October 27, 2000

Contact: Joanne Doroshow


New York, NY -- An unprecedented $1 million election-year advertising blitz by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is wreaking havoc with the U.S. judicial system and campaign finance laws. For the first time, the Chamber is funding negative attack ads against judicial candidates and candidates for Attorney General. Jim Wootten, head of the Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform, says the group may advertise in as many as seven states where, he says, "companies are plagued with frivolous lawsuits and there is a danger that courts might block tort reform." New York Times, October 22, 2000.

The Washington Post also reported this week that together, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and the National Federation of Independent Business are pumping close to $ 30 million into advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts in a few dozen congressional and judicial races - a dramatic increase in their spending.

Michigan is one state into which U.S. Chamber "soft money" is flowing. In addition:

  • In Mississippi, the U.S. Chamber has spent $420,000 on advertising in three Supreme Court races since October. Attorney General Mike Moore and Secretary of State Eric Clark have raised questions about the Chamber's failure to file campaign finance reports which would reveal their donors and spending. The Chamber says it's done nothing wrong, saying these are "issue ads" since they do not explicitly call for the election or defeat of a candidate. The group has now filed suit to keep state officials from canceling their ads.
  • The U.S. Chamber has started pumping major money into Ohio attacking Supreme Court Justice Alice Resnick. There has been a virtual flood of corporate money into this state for the purpose of ousting Resnick, who struck down as unconstitutional Ohio's draconian 1996 "tort reform" law. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce has already spent at least $1.7 million on its own. The U.S. Chamber's Wootton refuses to say how much the group is spending, claiming that the ads do not advocate the election or defeat of a candidate.
  • In Indiana, the U.S. Chamber is now funding attack ads against Indiana Attorney General Karen Freeman-Wilson, who has called this effort a blatant "smear campaign."

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