Published October 12, 2010
The Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday refuted Democrats' claims that it could be pumping foreign money into U.S. elections, accusing the Obama administration of "grasping at straws" in a last-ditch bid to shift public opinion.
Bruce Josten, executive vice president of government affairs at the Chamber of Commerce, described as "laughable" a new Democratic National Committee ad that all but accuses his organization and top GOP strategists of illegally using foreign donations for political purposes.
"It seems to me the administration is acting out of desperation," he told Fox News. Josten said his organization has 115 American chambers abroad in 108 foreign countries as well as several dozen foreign-multinational firms that have been long-time members -- but their money does not go toward campaigns.
"We comply rigorously with all federal laws," he said. "We don't solicit any of those groups for our issue-advocacy campaigns."
Josten accused the Obama administration of turning from "hope and change" to "fear and smear."
But the White House is promising to keep the pressure on. Though President Obama did not mention the controversy during remarks at two Miami fundraisers, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that the president has no intention of dropping the issue.
"The president will continue to make the argument that we don't know where this money comes from and entities like the Chamber have said they get money from overseas," he said. "Again, the larger discussion is on disclosing who these donors are. That's the point the president has made. He's not changing that point and he'll make it again."
Gibbs later said groups like the Chamber of Commerce "owe it to the American people to tell us who they are."
But after Vice President Biden said Monday that he will "stand corrected" if the Chamber of Commerce takes him up on his challenge to disclose how much foreign investment they're using, some suggests it's time for an apology.
"We accept the vice president's challenge here and now and are happy to provide our answer: Zero," Tom Collamore, senior vice president for organization's communications and strategy, said in a written statement.
"He better stand corrected," GOP strategist Karl Rove said.
Rove, a Fox News contributor, is among the individuals targeted in the new DNC ad. He questioned what Democrats think they have to gain by pursuing this argument.
"Who's the genius inside the White House who said, 'You know what? We can win the election by using Karl Rove's name?'" he told Fox News. "I want to meet that idiot."