Warren and Whitehouse call for investigation into Chamber of Commerce

Warren and Whitehouse call for investigation into Chamber of Commerce
© Stefani Reynolds

Democratic Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenKavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Mark Mellman: The most important moment in history? Katie Pavlich: The Democrats' desperate do-overs MORE (Mass.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseKavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Senate GOP pledges to oppose any efforts to 'pack' Supreme Court Senate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility MORE (R.I.) are calling for an investigation into whether the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is properly disclosing lobbying activities.

The senators wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House, where entities file lobbying disclosures, asking for a review of the Chamber’s reports to determine if they are in compliance with the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA).

Warren and Whitehouse reviewed the Chamber's disclosures from 2008 through the first quarter of 2019 and claim that since the second quarter of 2016, the Chamber has failed to provide information on its affiliated organizations, according to a press release on Wednesday.

ADVERTISEMENT

The LDA requires a coalition or association disclose entities that contribute at least $5,000 a quarter to its lobbying activities and that actively participate in its lobbying activities.

"As members of the United States Senate, Elizabeth Warren and Sheldon Whitehouse need to get their facts straight. The U.S. Chamber complies fully with the disclosure requirements under the law created by Congress," a Chamber spokesman told The Hill in response.

The spokesman added, "The question to be asked of Ms. Warren and Mr. Whitehouse is whether they are filing similar complaints of non-profit organizations including their progressive allies who regularly engage in their constitutional right to petition our government. Or, is this just another attempt to silence those with whom Ms. Warren and Mr. Whitehouse disagree?"

The senators are also claiming that before 2016, the Chamber would periodically disclose some information, like a website address, but not sufficient information on affiliated organizations, other than in one instance.

“Based upon information provided by Chamber member companies, it is our understanding that policy and lobbying decisions within the Chamber are made by member companies that participate on one or more internal Chamber policy committees,” the letter reads. "Given this lack of disclosure, we believe that the Chamber may not be in compliance with the LDA’s requirement that it disclose affiliated organizations that fund and actively participate in its lobbying activities."

The Chamber, a powerful pro-business lobby, has over three million members.

The LDA was enacted in 1995 and updated with Section 207 of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, which focuses on providing the public with information on lobbying, in 2008.