The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Naomi Seligman 202.408.5565

CREW Files DOJ Complaint Against Chamber of Commerce and Tom Donohue for Criminal FEC Violations


Earlier today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked the Department of Justice to initiate an investigation into whether the Chamber of Commerce (the Chamber) and its president, Tom Donohue, made illegal corporate contributions to the November Fund in violation of campaign finance law.

In September 2004, CREW filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging the Chamber and Mr. Donohue violated the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by making impermissible corporate contributions to the November Fund, a 527 organization.

The November Fund was formed in August 2004 in reaction to the selection of John Edwards as the Democratic nominee for vice president. The group warned that Edwards' election would be devastating for tort reform. The organization ran a website entitled, and sent direct mail pieces on Kerry and Edwards' tort reform positions.

Over four years after CREW filed its complaint, on December 15, 2008, the FEC hand-delivered to CREW a letter stating that in March 2005, the FEC found reason to believe Mr. Donohue and the Chamber had, in fact, violated the law by making $3 million in illegal corporate contributions to the November Fund. Nevertheless, on October 21, 2008, following a deadlocked 3-3 vote, the FEC dismissed the case without further action.

Knowing and willful violations of campaign finance laws involving amounts of over $25,000 are punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years and fines.

CREW executive director Melanie Sloan stated, "it is outrageous that four years after a complaint was filed, the FEC finally finds that indeed, illegal corporate contributions were made to influence the 2004 presidential election, but the Commission is not going to take any action. If there are no consequences for such blatant violations of the law, what is to stop the Chamber, Mr. Donohue and other major campaign donors from ignoring campaign finance laws to influence the outcome of federal elections?"

Sloan continued, "Luckily, given that FEC remains useless as usual, Americans can depend on the Department of Justice to ensure clean and fair elections. Our democratic system of government depends upon it."

See the Related Documents section on the right for more information.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials -- regardless of party affiliation -- who sacrifice the common good to special interests. CREW advances its mission using a combination of research, litigation and media outreach.