Perhaps the only saving grace of the court's ruling this morning was that it upheld the provisions of campaign-finance law that force corporations to disclose their political spending. But those requirements don't apply if the Chamber acts as a pass-through. That's Donohoe's "innovation."
"Corporations can contribute to the Chamber of Commerce, and the Chamber can spend the money," campaign-finance reform advocate Fred Wertheimer said this morning in a conference call with reporters. "So we'll have no way of knowing where it comes from, even with the disclosure requirements."
Of course, that's been the case until now. But the court's decision means that the Chamber doesn't need to stick to "issue" ads on behalf of its corporate members. Now it can expressly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate. That figures to make Donohue's "innovation" even more valuable than ever.
Paul Ryan of the Campaign Legal Center noted that Congress could act to beef up disclosure laws, requiring that the Chamber disclose its funders on individual campaigns. And at a press conference this morning, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that he and others would immediately look for legislative remedies to mitigate the effects of the court's decision.
But until that happens, it looks like the Chamber's clout will only get larger.
It's not like the Chamber didn't already have outsized influence in the capital. Media Matters reports that it spent $71 million on lobbying in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to disclosure reports.