April 10, 2012

Corporate Front U.S. Chamber of Commerce Uses Candidate Press Release As A News Citation In Latest Undisclosed Campaign Ad

The Supreme Court opened up the gate for corporations to spend unlimited amounts in campaign advertisements this election, but most businesses have opted to spend using undisclosed front groups, particularly the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber spends early and often to elect pro-big business candidates across the country. The ads, however, can be misleading.

A few weeks ago, the Chamber launched an ad — anonymously funded with corporate cash — to promote Linda Lingle, a Republican running for U.S. Senate in Hawaii. Many view the open seat as the best chance in a generation for the GOP in the state.

The ad touts Lingle as a “bipartisan leader” who knows how to work with the Obama administration. The source for the claim? In small print at the bottom of the ad, the Chamber cites a Hawaii Reporter article on January 19, 2012. The piece on that date is a press release “Submitted by Linda Lingle’s Senate Committee” — written by the candidate’s staff, not a reporter. View a screenshot below:

View a screenshot of the ad below:

Notably, the “Hawaii Reporter” is hardly even a real news outlet. The website is part of a network owned by the Franklin Center, a front run by former employees of Koch-owned political groups.

The Chamber isn’t afraid to use its deep coffers to misinformation — as long as such spending helps elect a candidate that fits the Chamber’s policy agenda.

During the 2010 midterms, the first major election after the Citizens United decision, the Chamber is believed to have spent money on race-baiting ads during a Democratic U.S. Senate primary. Many Chamber ads were criticized by nonpartisan watchdog organizations for outright falsehoods. In some cases, local television stations refused to run the Chamber’s blatantly deceptive attack ads.

Last week, Republic Report released the known corporate contributors to the Chamber’s election spending nonprofit, which is organized as a 501(c)(6). Americans can thank Coca-Cola, eBay, Procter & Gamble, Campbell’s Soups, Chevron, Prudential Financial, Dow Chemical, and other multinational corporations for the Chamber’s ads.

  • Malia Zimmerman

    Actually Hawaii Reporter is not owned by the Franklin Center. It is an independent news journal launched 10 years ago in Hawaii by two journalists, long before the Franklin Center ever existed. It is an award winning publication that has won several top investigative news awards over the last 10 years. And last year, won the top awards for business, government, and investigative news reporting. Journalists from the now defunct Honolulu Star Bulletin and Honolulu Advertiser work there. Several investigative television news pieces have aired in partnership with out television stations here. Hawaii Reporter also so happens to print ALL campaign announcements from every candidate in an effort to help get the word out from their campaigns – whether they be democrats, republicans, libertarians or green party members. It is a public service. If you are going to pick on Hawaii Reporter, or the chamber, it would be good if you got your facts in order first. This is the most inaccurate blog posting – ever.

    Malia Zimmerman
    founder, editor
    Hawaii Reporter

    • Lee Fang

      Hi Malia, Lee Fang here. What is your exact affiliation with the Franklin Center? Why did you post this press release from the Lingle campaign as a news item? Also, have you contacted the Chamber in regards to this ad? Thank you

      • Lee Fang

        There’s nothing inaccurate in our post. We said you are part of the Watchdog.org network (owned by former Koch operatives at the Franklin Center) and that’s true.

  • Malia Zimmerman

    Lee, I am not sure if you read the comment above. WE PRINT ALL RELEASES FROM ALL CAMPAIGNS AND A COMMUNITY SERVICE, REGARDLESS OF THEIR PARTY AFFILIATION. In terms of the Chamber, why would we contact them? I am no fan of the chamber. We have done our own investigations of our largest chamber here because of their political flip flops and affiliations. In terms of the national chamber, the ad was not well done and certainly did not help Linda Lingle, but as you probably know, candidates are not involved in those advocacy ads. Most people believe the ad was a waste of $200,000 plus. But the organization has a right to do what it wants in its advertising as long as it follows campaign spending laws. If you need more information on Hawaii Reporter, you should read the ‘about us’ section or the many stories written about us in publications around the world or the many sources that have cited us.

    Here is a little sample:

    Hawaii Reporter has worked as a consultant to ABC 20/20, FOX News and as a researcher for the New York Post.
    Hawaii Reporter has been featured or quoted in numerous media outlets around the world including ABC 20/20, American Journalism Review, Associated Press in Tokyo, Associated Press U.S., Bangkok Post, Boston.com, Budget and Tax News, BusinessWeek.com, Clear Channel in Denver, Drudge Report, Editors & Publishers Magazine, First Amendment Center, Forbes.com, Fox News Network, Fox’s Greta Van Sustren, Freedom Forum, Geraldo, Gun Talk Radio, GunWeek Magazine, Hawaii Bulletin Board, Hawaii Business Magazine, Hawaii News Now, Hawaii Parent magazine, Hawaii Public Radio, The Honolulu Advertiser, Honolulu Magazine, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, HonoluluTraffic.com, Honolulu Weekly, Houston Chronicle, KCCN Radio, KGMB TV 9, KHNL News, KHON TV News 2, KITV News 4, KSSK with Perry & Price, Liberty Magazine, London Daily Mail, Midweek, MSNBC.com, National Review, National Journal, National Public Radio, Neil Cavuto on Fox News, NRA Magazine/Radio, Opinion Journal, Olelo Television, Orange County Register, Pacific Business News, PBS Hawaii, Politico, Rick Hamada Morning Show, Rush Limbaugh (on air and web site), Samoa News, School Reform News, Sean Hannity Radio and Television, Small Business News, Statehousenewsonline.com, The Hill, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, United Press International, Wall Street Journal, Washington Examiner, Washington Times foreign bureau, Watchdog.org, Women and Guns Magazine and WPAL Radio in Baltimore, Maryland.”

    “Coverage of the Congressional and U.S. Senate races, and interviews with candidates, have been cited in a number of political journals such as The Hill, Politico, Wall Street Journal and the National Journal. Investigative news reports on the cost of President Obama’s Hawaiian vacations were featured around the world, and even made a mention on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
    In addition to the state’s most current political and business news, Hawaii Reporter’s special reports on the slave factory in American Samoa, elderly abuse, the 2004 mayor’s election, the cause and impact of the Ka Loko Dam breach, problems in Hawaii’s affordable housing facilities, where the money is going for federal contracts and grants, legislative ethics issues, the Honolulu rail and other transportation issues, legislation at the Hawaii State Capitol, and corruption and waste in local government, have gained widespread local and national attention.”

    This is what we cover – some of the topic you may appreciate:

    In 2012, Hawaii Reporter continues with some of its most important investigative news coverage:

    Hawaii Reporter has uncovered a major human trafficking operation with victims from Laos. Hawaii now has the highest human trafficking statistic in the country. The U.S. State Department, the United Nations Human Trafficking Committee and a group in Laos have told us they are looking into the matter. These reports not only look at the impact on the lives of the victims, but the toll trafficking takes on Hawaii’s economy and food supply. Food safety can be jeopardized when farm workers are untrained, don’t speak English so cannot read directions, and yet mixing and spraying chemicals on the produce we eat.

    Jim Dooley continues to look into problems in Hawaii’s affordable housing facilities. His 2011 investigative reports led to a state audit and change in management at a Maui affordable housing complex.

    Hawaii Reporter journalists broke a key story tying a prominent University of Hawaii Professor to an X-rated “Volcano Girls” escort service and web site when Jim Dooley went under cover and filmed an escort inside the professor’s bedroom in Waikiki. The professor also had a prostitution bust in his apartment in 2007. But he still denies knowledge of either incident.

    Stories on problems with Thai labor working in Hawaii have received coverage internationally in the Bangkok Post, several international documentaries, and in the foreign press. These stories will continue in 2012 through the coverage of the Global Horizons trial.

    Hawaii Reporter’s investigative work on the most notorious manslaughter case in Hawaii’s history – the 2006 dam breach on Kauai – has led to Hawaii Reporter being called to testify in the civil and criminal cases relating to the deaths of 7 people who died that tragic morning. The case not only focused attention on the land owner, who was eventually charged with manslaughter for allegedly causing the deaths of 7 people, but it brought into question the government’s role in assessing and inspecting dams and issuing citations for violations of dam safety. Dam owner James Pflueger, charged with manslaughter, goes to trial in October 2012.

    Coverage of the Jones Act’s negative impact on Hawaii and US territories has gained national attention and furthered a national discussion of an exemption to the legislation. Investigation into the fuel surcharges by our local duopoly carriers led to an investigation by a national agency.

    Stories of waste, fraud and abuse by state department managers uncovered by Hawaii Reporter also led to their replacement.

    Hawaii Reporter also continues its investigative reports on the city’s planned $5.3 billion rail system and how the 2012 mayoral election and a pending federal lawsuit will impact the project.

    In regards to this story, and insulting our reporters without any facts to back it up, is poor reporting and it is way off base. My point is, if you are going to claim to investigate corruption, make sure you are accurate. This report certainly is not.

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