Ok, now we're talking.
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman of New York has begun investigating contributions to tax-exempt groups that are heavily involved in political campaigns, focusing on a case involving the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been one of the largest outside groups seeking to influence recent elections but is not required to disclose its donors.A key to this investigation, and why it's important, is the point that these donors can remain anonymous:
Mr. Schneiderman issued a wide-ranging subpoena on Tuesday to executives at a foundation affiliated with the chamber, seeking e-mails, bank records and other documents to determine whether the foundation illegally funneled $18 million to the chamber for political and lobbying activities, according to people with knowledge of the investigation.
The investigation is also looking at connections between the chamber’s foundation, the National Chamber Foundation, and another philanthropy, the Starr Foundation, which made large grants to the chamber foundation in 2003 and 2004. During the same period, the National Chamber Foundation lent the chamber $18 million, most of it for what was described as a capital campaign.
While the chamber claims roughly 300,000 members, its political and lobbying activities are largely financed by a much smaller group of corporations, which can donate unlimited amounts to the chamber for issue ads against candidates without having to disclose the contributions publicly. During 2008, close to half of the chamber’s $140 million in contributions came from just 45 donors, often coinciding with lobbying or political campaigns of concern to the companies giving the money. [emphasis added]That's nuts. Let's be clear: there are plenty of billionaires willing to write checks in public. But, this investigation may be successful in shining some light on those cockroaches who don't want the public to know about their sleazy behavior.