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General News    H3'ed 10/18/10

Will FBI Finally Zero In On the U.S. Chamber of Commerce?

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Message Roger Shuler
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Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

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A progressive advocacy group has become the target of persistent threats over the past two weeks for its efforts to expose alleged criminal activity involving the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Now the group, Velvet Revolution (VR), is asking the FBI to investigate the communications, which include explicit threats of violence.

VR launched 16 months ago in an effort to shine light on possible illegal activities associated with the U.S. Chamber and its director. Tom Donohue. VR's campaign began to gain traction as the November midterm elections drew near. President Barack Obama and members of Congress have raised concerns about the Chamber's receipt of foreign funds and questionable accounting practices.

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Time magazine examines the controversy in its current issue. Writes Michael Crowley:

It's no great mystery what Barack Obama was doing when he accused the U.S. Chamber of Commerce of directing funds collected from overseas to a massive advertising campaign designed to shape the fall congressional elections. He wanted to remind voters that a powerful arm of corporate America is determined to derail some of the biggest elements of his domestic agenda. But he was also desperate to find some issue -- even a contrived one -- to inspire his cranky liberal base and avert a wipeout that could wreck the remainder of his term.

VR argues that the issue hardly is contrived. As pressure mounted on the Chamber, VR began to receive a mounting number of serious threats. Kevin Zeese, an attorney for VR, now is asking the FBI to investigate . Writes Zeese:

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Specifically, over the past two weeks, these Chamber staff and supporters have escalated what appears to be a coordinated attack on our organization and staff through harassing emails and online posts making false accusations, many including explicit threats of violence and intimidation against our organization and its staff for seeking a DOJ investigation into criminal wrongdoing by Mr. Donohue and the Chamber. The Chamber itself is directly involved with this smear campaign against us through its press spokesman who is feeding well-known conservative media with opposition research paid for by the Chamber. The Chamber' s high powered lawyers have also recently written at least three letters to various members of the media demanding that they not publish information about the Chamber' s illegal activities, and defaming our organization and its staff. One letter was written to our public relations agent, Ilene Proctor. One was written to PR Newswire, and the third was written to the editor of Huffington Post. PR Newswire felt so threatened that it pulled a press release we had sent regarding the Chamber.

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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)
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