CEO spent $600,000 of Chamber funds on May trip: report

CEO spent $600,000 of Chamber funds on May trip: report
© Greg Nash

U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Thomas Donohue, who just announced he is stepping down, has been racking up miles on corporate jets provided by the business trade group for both professional and personal trips, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The Journal reported that Donohue flew to Greece in May with his girlfriend and other friends, then flew to Tokyo and Beijing for three days of business meetings. The estimated total cost was at least $600,000, although the Chamber disputed that number.

Donohue has reportedly reimbursed the Chamber for some personal flights and pays income tax on the value of the flight.

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Trade associations are funded by donations from member corporations, and the Chamber is the wealthiest lobbying group in Washington. Donohue himself made $6.6 million in 2017 and, the Journal reported, no other association president gets a corporate jet for personal use. 

Donohue announced on Wednesday he is handing over the presidency to his longtime top aide, Suzanne Clarke. He plans to stay on as CEO through June 2022, and then the board will begin a global search for its next chief executive. Clarke is currently the Chamber’s senior executive vice president.

The Journal also reported on Thursday that Donohue has a close connection with the former Catholic archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was accused of sexual misconduct last year.

The day the accusations were revealed, Donohue reportedly flew McCarrick to Washington, D.C., from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota

McCarrick has been a paid consultant to Donohue from 2011 until his accusations broke in 2018, according to the newspaper, which added that he made more than $200,000 and presided over the funeral for Donohue's late wife.

Additionally, Donohue reportedly has two personal security guards and is driven around Washington as well as to his usual vacation spot: Maryland’s Eastern Shore. 

Donohue has been president and CEO since 1997. Before the Chamber, he was president and CEO of the American Trucking Association for 13 years. He was previously deputy assistant postmaster general of the United States.

The Hill has requested comment from Donohue and the Chamber.