Obama Biz Chamber-Foreign Money Charge Questioned

Obama at Bowie State rally

President Obama at an Oct. 7, 2010 rally where he charged that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce could be using money from foreign sources to pay for ads opposing Democratic candidates.  Susan Walsh/AP Photo hide caption

itoggle caption Susan Walsh/AP Photo

President Obama and fellow Democrats have charged that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has received money from dues paid by foreign companies and that some of that money could, repeat, could be used to purchase political ads targeted against Democrats.

It's illegal for foreign entities to fund U.S. political campaigns. Also, the president has warned just about any chance he gets that the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision could lead to such a pass.

The chamber has hotly denied the charge, recently set out in the Think Progess blog run by the liberal Center for American Progress.

Meanwhile, numerous journalists have questioned the accuracy of the Democratic accusations.

Among the journalists raising doubts is PolitiFact,com which NPR has partnered with this election cycle to investigate the factualness of political statements.

Speaking with All Things Considered's Melissa Block, Robert Farley, a PolitiFact staff writer, said his truth squad gave the president and Democrats only a half true on their Truth-O-Meter.

The Chamber of Commerce does collect membership dues from foreign companies, Farley said. But the trade group says it keeps those money's separate from the money it uses for the attack ads.

Melissa pointed out that we have to take the chamber's word for it because there's not enough transparency of the private trade group's internal workings to have airtight proof either way.

"We" includes the Obama administration, Farley said, since its officials presumably have no better idea than anyone else outside the trade group about the way the organization keeps its books.

FARLEY: At the end of the day we don't know where the money's coming from and we won't.

However, when Democrats or the president say that special interests or secret money is coming from foreign corporations, they don't know that either.

And so we are left in that middle ground where we don't know but neither do you when you say they are funding it that way.

So right now, it's essentially a case of Democrats, including the president, making charges for which they have no solid proof.

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