August 19, 2015
Martella Jr. co-leads the Environmental practice group at Sidley Austin LLP.
Martella Jr. co-leads the Environmental practice group at Sidley Austin LLP.

The Corporations Funding The Lawyers To Fight The Clean Power Plan

Lawyers from coal-dependent states, led by West Virginia, are challenging President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. Joining their effort is an army of industry-funded law firms that specialize in fighting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Together, they will argue that the EPA does not have any authority under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act to issue the carbon regulations; they will also contest the legality of the “fence line” used to set state emission targets. Yet, buried in coverage of the litigation is the fact that the coalition suing the EPA is connected to some of the largest …

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August 8, 2012

Another Chamber of Commerce Member Is Caught Bribing Foreign Governments

In late 2010, the foreign-funded U.S. Chamber of Commerce, perhaps Washington’s most powerful corporate front group, unleashed a lobbying blitz to weaken the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The FCPA is designed to punish U.S.-based corporations that bribe foreign officials abroad.

Earlier this year, a subsidiary of Wal-Mart — which is a Chamber member —  in Mexico was caught bribing officials, funneling millions of dollars through that country. Now, another Chamber member, Pfizer, has been fined for its role in foreign bribery:

As promised, the US Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Pfizer with violating …

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June 29, 2012

Senator Sherrod Brown Explains Why Big Business Owns Congress

In a piece about populism and the Democratic Party in Politico, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown (OH) explained how Big Business has, through its ability to tap into an extraordinary amount of campaign contributions, independent expenditures, and other electoral interventions, been able to own Congress:

“They own the Republican Party, and they have too much influence in my party, I mean there’s no question about that,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a true-blue populist up for reelection who has had $8.3 million spent against him already by third-party groups, most of them allies of business . “That’s why wealth is so concentrated …

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June 27, 2012
New York state will investigate the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for unfair corporate influence in elections.

NY Attorney General Probing U.S. Chamber of Commerce For Allegedly Laundering AIG Money For Lobbying, Political Commercials

Yesterday, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a subpoena targeting a foundation affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for illegally funneling $18 million to the Chamber for its political campaigning and lobbying efforts.

The New York Times reports:

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.

Watchdog groups claim that …

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June 12, 2012

Chamber Of Commerce Harms Veterans With Its Support For Predatory Colleges

Last April, the Los Angeles Times reported that the “unemployment rate for veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq is 10.3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For veterans age 24 and under, the rate is 29.1%, or 12 points higher than for civilians the same age. That compares with 8.2% unemployment nationally, and 7.5% for all veterans.”

One of Washington’s most powerful corporate front groups, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, says that it is stepping up to help these unemployed veterans. It has launched a “Hiring Our Heroes” program to work with its corporate members to hire these jobless …

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May 29, 2012
Walt Disney claims it is a family-friendly company...but is it putting profits first?

Family Friendly? Disney Funds Lobbyists Fighting to Deny Americans Parental Leave

There are few corporations that have worked as hard over the years to cultivate a family-friendly image as The Walt Disney Company.

Disney operates a television channel, theme park, releases movies, manufactures toys, and in general tries to court American families with its advertising and public relations campaigns.

But being pro-family isn’t just about releasing feel-good movies and toys. It’s also about supporting policies that allow parents to have time off to be with their children and have stable families.

Unfortunately, out of 178 nations examined in a recent study, the United States is one of four that does not mandate paid parental …

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May 25, 2012

As Facebook Increases Its Lobbying, Have They Joined An Anti-Climate Science, Pro-Republican Secret Attack Ad Group?

While much of the buzz around Facebook has been geographically centered on Wall Street, perhaps just as lucrative for the company are the ties it’s creating in Washington. The social media giant has upped its lobbying game, spending a record amount on federal lobbying in the first quarter of 2012. But everyone knows that the D.C. influence industry goes beyond mere lobbying and Facebook has made inroads elsewhere in the capital, including with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Despite its innocuous sounding name, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the mother of all outside spending groups. It surpassed all other …

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May 15, 2012
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

Sherrod Brown Held Corporations Accountable, Now They’re Spending Millions To Unseat Him

By now, most Americans realize that Big Money is a powerful force in American politics. Members of Congress often shy away from regulating an industry that showers them with campaign donations. Members will rush to vote for massive subsidies and giveaways to big donors.

One senator who has been mostly unmoved by the presence of this Big Money is Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). He has been a leader in taking on the big banks, working to create a more just and humane health care system, and kicking Big Money out of politics.

But when you take on special interests, they tend to retaliate …

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