Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Business Against Consumer Access To The Courts

A new report by Public Citizen, called "The Gilded Chamber," analyzes the US Chamber of Commerce's 2012 tax forms and found that more than half of all contributions to the Chamber came from just 64 donors in 2012.
The report looks at 1,619 contributions listed on Form 990 tax return documents, required for nonprofits to report contributions of more than $5000 to the IRS, by the Chamber and its partner, the US Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). The ILR works in conjunction with the Chamber for legal reforms that largely favor business and against consumer-access to the courts. Only a few of the organization's overall donors make up the majority of their contributions, according to the report.

According to the report, the sum of all contributions of $5,000 or more amounted to more than 94 percent of the Chamber's total donations in 2012, with an average donation at $111,254. Overall, the top 43 organizations contributed a combined $80.4 million to the Chamber. The Chamber's revenue came largely from dozens of contributions of $500,000 or more and hundreds of donations ranging from $10,000 and $20,000, according to the study.

  The report found that the ILR's average donation was $454,110, with just 21 entities giving a combined $27.3 million. This accounted for more than two-thirds of the ILR's total $43.6 million in donations. The ILR's funding came almost exclusively from contributions ranging in the hundreds of thousands or millions. The report found that a huge majority, 71 percent, of the ILR's 96 donations were for $100,000 or more, and more than half were for $250,000 or more.

 Generally, [the ILR] works to characterize consumer lawsuits as frivolous and a waste of time and money, and that may be the perspective of entities that were able to donate an average of $450,000 dollars - which what the ILR got in its average donation - but for the average consumer, a lot of people want to hold on to the right to sue in a class-action lawsuit if there's a large number of people damaged by a company's practices.

 But it's still hard to say exactly what the interests of these large corporations and organizations are beyond generalizations because the donor's identities remain unknown. According to the report, the only company to publicly disclose its contribution to the Chamber is Dow Chemical Co., which disclosed giving $2.9 million to the Chamber (its sixth biggest donation in 2012).

Taken from here

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