Lead Story Goes After Fundraising of Obama Foe, the Chamber of Commerce

On Friday morning the Times threw another front-page lifeline to the Democrats via a lead story on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's "orchestrated campaign to become one of the most well-financed critics of the Obama administration."

The Times had previously rejected Obama's phony attacks on the chamber for funneling foreign donations into U.S. campaigns, which would be illegal. But the Times has no compunction against going after the Chamber from another angle, for the grievous sin of giving mostly to Republicans this election cycle, as reported by Eric Lipton, Mike McIntire, and Don Van Natta Jr.: "Large Donations Aid U.S. Chamber In Election Drive - Democrats Top Targets - Group Doesn't Disclose Names of Companies Giving Millions." (Editor's Note: Despite the headline's insinuation, the Chamber isn't required to disclose the names of the companies.)

The Times began by rattling off big names and donations to the Chamber from the likes of Prudential Financial and Dow Chemical, then got to the money paragraph:

And Goldman Sachs, Chevron Texaco, and Aegon, a multinational insurance company based in the Netherlands, donated more than $8 million in recent years to a chamber foundation that has been critical of growing federal regulation and spending. These large donations - none of which were publicly disclosed by the chamber, a tax-exempt group that keeps its donors secret, as it is allowed by law - offer a glimpse of the chamber's money-raising efforts, which it has ramped up recently in an orchestrated campaign to become one of the most well-financed critics of the Obama administration and an influential player in this fall's Congressional elections.

Throughout this election cycle, the Times has been unable to stop picking at one particular irritant - that after two cycles of business money flowing to Democrats, the tide has turned toward the GOP.

The chamber's increasingly aggressive role - including record spending in the midterm elections that supports Republicans more than 90 percent of the time - has made it a target of critics, including a few local chamber affiliates who fear it has become too partisan and hard-nosed in its fund-raising.

The Times kept hyping the anonymous nature of these few wealthy donors, as if the Democrats are bereft of wealthy Hollywood sugar daddies.

The annual tax returns that the chamber releases include a list of all donations over $5,000, including 21 in 2008 that each exceed $1 million, one of them for $15 million. However, the chamber omits the donors' names....These records show that while the chamber boasts of representing more than three million businesses, and having approximately 300,000 members, nearly half of its $140 million in contributions in 2008 came from just 45 donors. Many of those large donations coincided with lobbying or political campaigns that potentially affected the donors.

The Times couldn't help rehash the percentage of spending by the Chamber of Commerce benefiting Republicans or hurting Democrats.

In January, the chamber's president, Thomas J. Donohue, a former trucking lobbyist, announced that his group intended "to carry out the largest, most aggressive voter education and issue advocacy effort in our nearly 100-year history."

The words were carefully chosen, as the chamber asserts in filings with the Federal Election Commission that it is simply running issue ads during this election season. But a review of the nearly 70 chamber-produced ads found that 93 percent of those that have run nationwide that focus on the midterm elections either support Republican candidates or criticize their opponents.

Also on Friday, Eric Lichtblau and Michael Luo ran a typical GOP fundraising horror story (about Bob Perry, a prime funder of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth) under a typical ominous headline: "Big Gifts to G.O.P. Groups Push Donor to New Level."

When Bob Perry, a wealthy home builder from Texas, emerged six years ago as a prime financer of the Swift Boat Veterans attack ads against Senator John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, the political strategist Karl Rove was there to vouch for Mr. Perry.

"I've known him for 25 years," Mr. Rove said on Fox News. Back when Republicans were not so popular in Texas, Mr. Perry was one of the few wealthy Texans "willing to write checks to Republican candidates," Mr. Rove added.

Now Mr. Rove and his party are benefiting from his old friend's largess once again, as new federal disclosure reports this week showed that Mr. Perry has given $7 million since September to American Crossroads, the conservative group Mr. Rove helped start. Mr. Perry was the group's biggest donor.