After Testy Election Season, President Obama to Address US Chamber of Commerce

Jan 5, 2011 5:45pm

ABC News’ Jon Garcia and Karen Travers report:  Does the new year mean there is a new and improved phase in the chilly relationship between President Obama and the US Chamber of Commerce?

The Chamber confirmed today that Mr. Obama accepted its invitation to address its members on Feb. 7.

“We look forward to hosting the President next month to discuss jobs and the economy,” said Tom Collamore, Senior Vice President of Communications at the Chamber. “This remains the top priority of the Chamber and the business community, and we’re committed to working together to put Americans back to work.”

Obama and the Chamber butted heads throughout the fall campaign season over the use of foreign money in American elections and Chamber President Tom Donohue did not shy away from attacking the White House over the health care law and financial reform.

This will be the first time the president has addressed the members of the Chamber of Commerce.

In October, before the midterm election, President Obama, his top officials and many Democrats pounced on a report by the liberal group ThinkProgress that pointed out that the Chamber had some foreign funding sources. It is illegal to use foreign money for political activity and those Democrats used the report to try to force the Chamber to reveal its donor list.

“Groups that receive foreign money are spending huge sums to influence American elections, and they won’t tell you where the money for their ads come from,” Obama said at the time. “The American people deserve to know who’s trying to sway their elections….It could be the oil industry, the insurance industry, Wall Street – you'll never know.  Their lips are sealed, but the floodgates are open.”

His chief advisor David Axelrod chimed in: “Just disclose where your money is coming from and that will end all the questions. The fact is they are spending $75 million in this campaign and they will not disclose where one dime is coming from.”

The Chamber pushed back, saying they segregate the foreign money from the domestic political activity.

“We're under no obligation as any organization or association in the United States is, to divulge who its members are, who its contributors are,” said Chamber Executive VP Bruce Josten. “We are under legal obligations to account and have an accounting method that ensures that in our accounts that funds or any aspect of money that comes from a foreign source is not in any way utilized in any political sense. We ensure that we do that,” he said.

Here is the link to the report: a study by the liberal group ThinkProgress

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