Chamber says Dems are trying to keep them out of the midterms

Democrats are trying to the keep the U.S. Chamber of Commerce out of the midterm elections, according to its president, Tom Donohue.

Donohue told a National Press Club luncheon Friday that the party's legislative response to the Citizens United case is aimed at "keeping the Chamber out of the midterm elections."

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He said the message the business lobbying group is getting is: "We just want to delay you and keep you out of the elections this time."

"That's not going to happen," he added.

In the ruling, the Supreme Court lifted political spending restrictions on corporations, trade associations and nonprofit groups.

One aspect of the Democrats' legislation would require the disclosure of major donors. And, for the first time, that would require groups like the Chamber to identify the companies that fund its political-related spending.

The proposal is sponsored by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the former head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

"It's so patently political," Donohue said. "It ought to be embarrassing."

Democrats have said their goal is to get the bill passed in time to affect the 2010 midterms. 

Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer refuted the Chamber's assertion the bill is partisan.

"We consider Representative Chris Van Hollen to be the leader of campaign finance reform and other government integrity reform efforts in the House of Representatives," he said in a statement. "This is not partisan legislation and it provides precisely the kind of comprehensive and timely campaign finance disclosure requirements that Republicans and Democrats both have called for and supported over the years."

"The legislation is fair and equitable and it is not partisan. It does not favor Democrats or Republicans and it treats corporations, labor unions, trade associations and advocacy groups alike," Wertheimer said.

-- This post was updated at 4:50 p.m.