Perhaps you've seen those commercials showing Phil Angelides walking backward--the same direction the Democrat nominee for governor wants to take the state, according to the folksy narrator. These, of course, are not to be confused with Angelides' response ads, which show someone who looks a lot like The Terminator riding a motorcycle moving backwards--the same direction Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken the state, according to the folksy narrator.
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We don't recall who funded the anti-Arnold ads, but it's a safe bet it was not the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. That's because the chamber paid for the original, anti-Angelides commercial. And now comes a "major new report" released today by the Center for Justice & Democracy that reveals the U.S. Chamber is kicking in substantial financial and strategic assistance to local front groups to influence state elections, including funding major media buys to smear local candidates. Quoting a release by the Center for Justice & Democracy:
"The Secret Chamber-The Inner Workings of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Hijacking of an Election," draws from the cache of newly-released papers and deposition testimony uncovered in connection with litigation surrounding the failed 2004 election bid of Deborah Senn for Washington State Attorney General. Senn, a former pro-consumer insurance commissioner, was viciously attacked in an advertising blitz, which contributed to her defeat. It was only later revealed that the ad campaign was funded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its Institute for Legal Reform. Litigation arose after the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission concluded that the ads violated state election law and the participation of the Chamber and the ILR was revealed.
"This report shows that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is involved in an organized, aggressive, covert and nasty effort to infiltrate local election campaign," says the study's author, Laurie Beacham. "While the Chamber tries to disassociate itself from the negative campaigning conducted by its local front groups, it remains actively involved in elections, pursuing all the trimmings of a full-out political campaign."
Joanne Doroshow, the Center for Justice & Democracy's executive director, concludes that the study proves the U.S. Chamber is not the apolitical business booster organization it purports to be. "This group has its hands in just about every level of electoral politics, dipping into the very foundations of our democratic process," she said. "It is important that this effort, which has largely stayed under the radar, become known to the public." A public that will, of course, totally blow this shit off.