David Alexrod: Chamber Of Commerce Guilty Until Proven Innocent

James Joyner has already covered the Obama Administration’s bizarre attacks on the Chamber of Commerce, but there was one part of the story that really stood out to me, and it occurred yesterday when one of the President’s Senior Advisers appeared on Face The Nation:

A weekend report by the New York Times undercut the White House’s recent attacks on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
, which charged the chamber with influencing American elections with gobs of foreign money. “There is little evidence that what the chamber does in collecting overseas dues is improper or even unusual, according to both liberal and conservative election-law lawyers,” the Times reported.

By Sunday, the president was backing off the charge, and David Axelrod was asked about it by a skeptical Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation.”

“They do spend heavily on politics,” Schieffer said of the chamber. “But this part about foreign money. That appears to be peanuts, Mr. Axelrod. I mean, do you have any evidence that it’s anything other than peanuts?”

Axelrod was defiant, suggesting the chamber is lying and the New York Times report was inaccurate.

“Well, do you have any evidence that it’s not, Bob? The fact is that the chamber has asserted that, but they won’t release any information about where their campaign money is coming from, and that’s the core of the problem, here,” Axelrod said.

Here’s the full video:

So here you have a Senior White House official saying that the Chamber of Commerce has the burden of proving that it hasn’t committed a crime — and, yes, using foreign money to influence an election is a crime. Quite honestly, it’s outrageous, it’s arrogant, and it’s yet another example of how the “hope” and “change” of 2008 was pretty much just window dressing.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2010, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Brummagem Joe says:

    You’re starting to loose it Doug with phony outrage. Guilty until proven innocent is standard operating procedure in the public arena. And it’s fairly likely the Chamber is involved in a bit of a shell game and of course now they don’t have to tell anyone anything.

  2. Guilty until proven innocent is standard operating procedure in the public arena.

    That doesn’t make it right, and it certainly doesn’t make it right when it’s the White House that’s doing it.

    And do you actually have evidence that the Chamber is breaking any laws ?

    No, I didn’t think so.

  3. Neo says:

    “They [The Chamber of Commerce] can put this to rest,” said Joshua Earnest, a White House spokesman. “They have the keys to the file cabinet.”

    Isn’t this the essence of “birtherism” ??

  4. Neo,

    Yes, under David Alexrod’s logic the President of the United States is now under the burden of proving that he isn’t a Kenyan-born secret Muslim.

    It’s a ridiculous idea, of course.

  5. sam says:

    “And do you actually have evidence that the Chamber is breaking any laws ?”

    Kinda hard to say if it is or is not given that it hasn’t and won’t reveal its donors, right?

  6. Brummagem Joe says:

    Doug Mataconis says:
    Monday, October 11, 2010 at 16:15
    “And do you actually have evidence that the Chamber is breaking any laws ?

    No, I didn’t think so”

    Leaving aside that it’s a rather dumb question for little me playing on my computer, how the hell would anyone know since they don’t have to provide any info to anyone? How far would you get conducting cases if you had no discovery I wonder. .

  7. Brummagem Joe says:

    Doug Mataconis says:
    Monday, October 11, 2010 at 17:40
    “is now under the burden of proving that he isn’t a Kenyan-born secret Muslim.

    It’s a ridiculous idea, of course.’

    Hasn’t stopped any number of senior people in the GOP suggesting or implying it’s true.

  8. Tano says:

    I think Doug gives a perfect example of the mindset that the Republicans have landed in.

    They totally embrace the notion that rather than the political equality that our Founders proposed that we all should enjoy, it is the size of ones bank account which should be strictly correlated with the volume of one’s voice in the political arena.

    The issue here is precisely that – to what extent is our political arena a free-for-all fight, waged in dollars, with no limitations allowed? Or if there are limitations – put into place more for show than with any expectation they be adhered to – then there must be no means by which those limitations can be enforced.

    The Chamber exists as an advocacy organization for very “special” interests.. No one can argue about that.
    The Chamber collects dues and contributions from sources foreign and domestic. No one can argue about that.
    The Chamber spends money on political campaigns. No one can argue about that.
    The Chamber admits to all of this.

    And yet, it is illegal for foreign contributions to be spent on campaigns. And it is, at the very least, a matter of legitimate interest to the American people if foreign contributions are behind the issue advertising that we drown in every other October.

    In what way has the administration done anything beyond discussing these facts? How can anyone deny that the Chamber’s advocacy is fueled in part by donations from foreign sources?

    “…a Senior White House official saying that the Chamber of Commerce has the burden of proving that it hasn’t committed a crime”

    I repeat Doug. Are you denying that the Chamber receives funding from foreign sources? Are you denying that the Chamber is heavily involved in the political campaign? Can you think of ANY situation (most especially involving Democrats) in which there is such an obvious prima facie case for possible misdoing, and there is not a very loud demand from the opposition party, and from concerned citizens, for an explanation?

    This is not a legal proceeding, it is a campaign. The penalties that might be visited on the Chamber are not legal seizure of their resources, or deprivation of liberty, but rather defeat of their preferred candidate in an election. Of course it is perfectly legitimate to demand they reveal the source of their funding, along with outlining why it might be that they wish to hide that.

  9. Brummagem Joe says:

    Tano says:
    Monday, October 11, 2010 at 20:00

    Tano you and I are agreeing. This will never do. Basically Doug and Joyner think there is nothing wrong with special interests at home or abroad secretly showering dollars on election campaigns so candidates can be elected that will do their bidding. The fact that this might not actually be in the public interest, their interest, never seems to cross their minds.

  10. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    How much money did Obama get by phone ins during the 2008 campaign? Who is to say it did not come from a foreign source? Maybe we will have a chance to find out when the GOP controls the House. I understand Darrel Issa has a list of things people are curious about. Like New Black Panthers and voting places and why Eric Holder did not finish a case which was alread won. Twenty some days till heads explode on OTB.

  11. Tano says:

    “Maybe we will have a chance to find out when the GOP controls the House.”

    So you are saying that you agree that there should be transparency regarding all the money spent during political campaigns?

  12. DC Loser says:

    Does anyone recall the Republican indignation over supposed Communist Chinese contributions to the Clinton administration? I guess they’re okay with that, huh?

  13. Juneau: says:

    @ Tano

    Of course it is perfectly legitimate to demand they reveal the source of their funding, along with outlining why it might be that they wish to hide that.

    Like Obama did during his campaign, you mean? Obama still has not answered questions about the funding for his 2008 election. Is he above the question, because no one has forced him to comply with the LAW in the matter.

    There remain a significant number of questions about this which were conveniently swept under the rug post-election. Such as the woman in Missouri who had $175,000 donated to Obama in her name and, when contacted by the media, stated that she did not give ANYTHING. Obviously someone , somewhere, was breaking the law in that situation, which is much more than what the Democrats are going on (there is zero proof of wrongdoing on the part of the Chamber).

    Obama = above the law
    Chamber of Commerce = prove you’re innocent to a baseless charge leveled for the express purpose of smearing your name and reputation.

    Yeah, sounds like Hope and Change talright

  14. Tano says:

    “Such as the woman in Missouri who had $175,000 donated to Obama in her name and, when contacted by the media, stated that she did not give ANYTHING. Obviously someone , somewhere, was breaking the law in that situation,”

    Yes, obviously. So what ever became of that? What was the Obama campaign’s take on that?

    “As we reviewed our contributions and the more than 100,000 pages of our report, we noticed repeat donations from one contributor and proactively contacted the donor to verify whether the contributions were appropriate,” said Ben LaBolt, a campaign spokesman. “We refunded all of the contributions and contacted authorities when we determined Ms. Biskup had not made them. While no organization is protected from internet fraud – John McCain was forced to refund more than $1.2 million in contributions and has accepted contributions from non-existent donors like ‘Jesus II’ — our review system caught and rectified this issue.”

    Juneau, if you cannot tell the truth, it WILL be discovered. And your reputation WILL suffer the consequences. Do you really not have any legitimate grounds for criticizing Dems?

  15. Tano says:

    “…conveniently swept under the rug …”

    I’ll repeat from the quote above. The Obama campaign DISCOVERED this situation, and they reported it to the authorities.

    Either you are a blatant liar, or you are just funneling half-baked crap from loony propaganda sites. We try to operate on a different level here, bud.

  16. John425 says:

    The classic smear that stays within the libel law is: “I continue to be disturbed by reports that my opponent has sex with livestock.” Axelrod knows how to smear, for sure.
    Is anyone asking the US based unions about commingling funds from their international affiliates?

  17. IndyFromAz says:

    THOUGHT CRIME! LIberals look away now or you’ll be Juan Williams-d!!