In Chamber speech, Rep. Waxman takes swing at group's political spending

One of the most powerful Democrats in the House on Tuesday took a shot at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's political spending this cycle in a speech at the Chamber itself.

While speaking to participants at a Chamber summit on U.S.-Israel business relations, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) knocked the business coalition for not disclosing its donors and said that it has not done enough to prove it is not spending foreign money on its political efforts.

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"I urge the Chamber to be transparent, to provide full disclosure on the contributions it is making this cycle," Waxman said. "Without proper transparency and disclosure it is hard for the Chamber to be a role model for corporate citizenship in America and around the world."

Waxman reiterated the argument made by President Obama and leading Democrats, saying that the organizations have not revealed their donors despite contributing millions to help the GOP take control of Congress. 

But the California Democrat's speech was one of the most direct attacks on the Chamber this year, considering it was made at a Chamber-sponsored event at their Washington headquarters. 

Democrats have recently targeted the record amount of outside spending on the Republican side in an effort to paint GOP candidates as beholden to their corporate backers, while framing themselves as on the side of the middle class.

Waxman, an ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), hit on one of the most contentious points of the argument: that the Chamber and other groups backing Republican candidates could be using contributions from foreign affiliates and members for political purposes, which would violate U.S. law.

"In particular, the Chamber has been unwilling to show accountability for the funds it has solicited for [their] ads. The donors have not been disclosed," he said. "Moreover, despite the Chamber's strong assertions, it has been unwilling to show conclusive evidence that money collected from foreign corporations isn't being used for political activities."

The Chamber in particular has angered Democrats for its opposition to several top Democratic agenda items such as healthcare reform and the cap-and-trade energy bill Waxman helped usher through the House, but which stalled in the Senate.

But the group and its GOP allies have said that they have no obligation under the law to reveal their donors, that they don't use corporate dollars for political purposes, and that Democrats are being hypocritical since they took large amounts of outside money in 2008.

In response to Vice President Joe Biden's claim earlier this month that the Chamber has not ruled out using foreign money for politics, the Chamber's senior vice president for communication, Tom Collamore, said, "Zero. As in, 'Not a single cent.' "