Exclusive – House Panel Launches Official Investigation into U.S. Chamber of Commerce Tax Status over Soros-Linked Donations to Foundation

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The top U.S. House committee charged with tax law and oversight has launched a formal investigation into the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its affiliated foundation, Breitbart News has learned exclusively.

House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) on Monday morning demanded answers from the president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and from the president of the affiliated U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to in-depth questions about donations the Chamber’s foundation received from the Tides Foundation based on an exclusive report from Breitbart News earlier this year.

“Tax-exempt organizations like the Chamber of Commerce have operated without sufficient oversight for far too long,” Smith, the author of the letter to both entities and chairman of the powerful tax committee, told Breitbart News exclusively. “The Chamber — which claims to stand for the interests of Main Street job creators — must explain why it received millions of dollars in donations from an organization whose stated mission is to undermine small businesses in the United States. We have a duty to the American taxpayer to demand transparency and ensure tax-exempt organizations are operating in pursuit of the stated purpose for which they were organized under the tax code.”

05.06.2024 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Letter v4[2] by Breitbart News on Scribd

For whatever it’s worth, it’s not like Smith is some radically right-wing Republican who the Chamber of Commerce despises or something. Just a few months ago, he negotiated a bipartisan tax reform deal with Senate Finance Chairman Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) that the Chamber of Commerce wholeheartedly publicly endorsed in a glowing January statement saying it “applauds” Smith and Wyden for their work.

The three-page Monday morning letter from Smith to Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Suzanne Clark and to Chamber of Commerce Foundation president Carolyn Cawley provides the supposedly pro-business entities with a two-week deadline of May 20, 2024, at the close of business to answer in-depth questions about the suspect donations.

Smith opens the letter, also obtained exclusively by Breitbart News ahead of its public release, by detailing efforts his committee has undertaken this Congress to investigate “the growth of the tax-exempt sector established under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code.”

“Throughout the 118th Congress, the Committee on Ways and Means has been investigating the growth of the tax-exempt sector established under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code,” Smith writes. “In April 2023, the Committee held a hearing on tax-exempt hospitals and the community benefit standard. In August 2023, the Committee published an open letter requesting information on tax-exempt organizations focused on potential violations of rules regarding political activities, inappropriate use of charitable funds, and concerns about foreign sources of funding. In December 2023, the Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee held a hearing on the growth of the tax-exempt sector and its impact on the American political system.”

The Ways and Means Committee, of course, oversees tax law and the IRS so this is an extremely serious matter that could have major implications for the Chamber of Commerce and its affiliated foundation and for any members of or donors to either institution—which Smith notes in the next paragraph.

“These activities helped inform the Committee about the functioning of the sector and raised numerous concerns about activities of tax-exempt organizations like yours,” Smith writes. “Specifically, we are concerned about recent public reporting regarding the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF). The USCCF is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC) is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(6).”

Next up, Smith cites a late March 2024 exclusive report from Breitbart News citing tax documents that showed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation accepted more than $12 million across several donations over the past few years from an organization called the Tides Foundation. The Tides Foundation is funded in part by liberal billionaire George Soros.

“The public reports at issue indicate that the USCCF has received over $12 million in funding from the Tides Foundation, a left-leaning organization that partners with and sponsors groups that advocate for policies that would harm the American business community,” Smith writes, with a footnote citing the Breitbart News exclusive from late March.

Smith notes in the next sentences of this paragraph that these donations in question raise serious concerns about the tax-exempt statuses of both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its affiliated foundation, and whether the organizations are running afoul of their intended purposes for which they were granted such status to instead pursue some twisted leftist political agenda on behalf of Soros and the Tides Foundation.

“Contrary to the USCC’s stated mission of improving lives ‘by advancing American business’ and advocating ‘for policies that help businesses create jobs and grow our economy,’ it seems odd that the foundation would accept funding from a group like the Tides Foundation, which is so focused on activities that seem counter to USCC’s mission,” Smith writes. “Furthermore, these reports raise concerns about how the USCC and USCCF are using their tax-exempt status.”

In the next two paragraphs of the letter, Smith details how the Tides Foundation—the Soros-funded group in question—has a mission with a stated purpose that is at odds with the stated purposes of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its affiliated foundation.

“According to the Tides Foundation’s website, they work with ‘foundations who share our vision’ and help their foundation partners ‘[c]ollaborate with like-minded funders to fuel social movements and transform policy,’” Smith writes. “The Tides Foundation says that their vision is ‘that a just and equitable future can exist only when communities who have been historically denied power have the social, political, and economic power they need to create it.’ The Tides Foundation partners with and sponsors several anti-business organizations that seem to directly contradict the USCC’s stated mission. One example of an anti-business Tides Foundation supported project is the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR). In December 2023, ICAR published a report titled Building a Rights-Based Economy: A Corporate Accountability Agenda. In this report, ICAR said ‘[t]ransnational corporations with intentionally complex, opaque supply chains are able to conceal systematic wage theft, forced labor, and attacks against human rights defenders’ and ‘companies that pay little to nothing in federal income taxes go on to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbying for their interests.’”

In the next couple paragraphs, Smith asks several questions and then specifically says that the Chamber and its foundation are under investigation for their tax-exempt status.

“Does USCC share the vision of the Tides Foundation? If not, why would USCC accept funds from a group so opposed to its mission? Or perhaps the better question is why would the Tides Foundation think that this donation would advance its interests?” Smith writes. “These reports are concerning because the Committee is evaluating whether tax-exempt organizations like USCC and USCCF are operating for the exempt purposes that allowed them to obtain tax-exempt status. Additionally, the Committee is concerned about whether donors to, and members of, organizations like yours have sufficient awareness of how their money is being spent.”

After that, Smith then gives the deadline of 5 p.m. on May 20 for Clark and Cawley to answer the committee’s detailed questions which follow that paragraph. The specific five questions that Clark and Cawley are told to answer in the next two weeks are as follows:

  1. As a tax-exempt organization with the stated mission of advocating “for policies that help businesses create jobs and grow our economy” that has a related foundation, what exactly are taxpayers getting in return for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s tax-exempt status?
  2. Why is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Foundation accepting funds from the Tides Foundation, an organization that seems to sponsor and partner with openly anti-business organizations?
  3. What have the funds received from the Tides Foundation been used for?
  4. Are your members and donors aware that the organization is funded, in part, by the Tides Foundation?
  5. Do you share the vision of the Tides Foundation? If not, why did you accept funds from the organization? Do you know why they donated to USCC?

It is unclear if the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its affiliated foundation will cooperate with the investigation. Sometimes entities that receive document and question requests like this do cooperate and answer them by their deadlines, and other times they do not cooperate. If the entities do not end up cooperating, the Ways and Means Committee has the authority and power to then subpoena them and compel cooperation.

The significance of this moment—where a very serious Republican-led congressional committee is formally investigating the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—cannot be understated. Relations between the Chamber and congressional Republicans have been getting much icier in recent years, as Breitbart News has documented repeatedly, but this is a whole new level of break between the GOP and the business community. It’s worth noting that just a few years ago right before he became Speaker of the House now former House Speaker Paul Ryan was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, the exact committee now investigating the Chamber of Commerce. It’s hard to see Ryan ever doing something like what Smith is doing, so this represents a very clear shift among Republicans towards economic populist nationalism and away from the globalist international corporatist days of the past.

Corporate America and Republicans have been growing further and further apart in the past few years, especially with the rise of former President Donald Trump in 2016. Trump, of course, is the presumptive GOP nominee for president again for the third straight presidential election—meaning he has been leading the party for about a decade now—and while he won in 2016 he did throughout his first term in office do some things with the business community, the two sides have definitely drifted further and further apart during that time and since Trump left office in early 2021. The New York Times’ Jonathan Swan reported in a recent TikTok video for the Times that he expects if Trump wins again in November the rift will widen even more, and these trends of turning against big business across the Republican Party will continue to accelerate.

Swan noted in the video that several major events in recent years have exacerbated the divorce between corporations and Republicans, culminating with companies committing what Trump and his allies view as the “ultimate betrayal” which was the pulling back of donations to Republicans from corporations:

The New York Times just inadvertently released the greatest Trump ad of the year pic.twitter.com/g7v1cyYc3a

— johnny maga (@_johnnymaga) April 29, 2024

Of course, at the forefront of this political shift from corporate America was the Chamber of Commerce. As Breitbart News reported back in September 2020—when Trump was still president—the Chamber of Commerce directly endorsed dozens of Democrats running for Congress in key swing districts. This push, a hard break from the Chamber’s normal activity, was led as Breitbart News reported at the time by a man named Neil Bradley. Bradley, a former staffer for former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), by this time had come to the U.S. Chamber as an executive vice president and chief policy officer. As Breitbart News later reported, Republicans on Capitol Hill began referring to Bradley as “Kneel Bradley,” a play on the spelling of his name of course referencing sports stars who were kneeling during the national anthem as a form of leftist pro-Democrat protest like the kind of leftism Bradley was facilitating at the Chamber.

The launch of this investigations comes at perhaps the worst possible time for Clark, Cawley, the Chamber, and its affiliated foundation. The news is breaking as the Chamber of Commerce is holding a major event in downtown Washington DC commencing Monday morning and continuing for the next three days. The event, the Chamber’s 14th annual China Business Conference, is one the organization has aggressively publicly promoted on social media:

Last chance! RSVP to our China Business Conference next week, where we’ll bring together business leaders, public officials, and policy experts to explore the latest on economic and political developments and shape the bilateral & global policy agendas. https://t.co/FwG9E2mQe5 pic.twitter.com/aCKyXw9Ohk

— U.S. Chamber (@USChamber) May 2, 2024

At the event, speakers according to the website will include of course the Chamber’s Bradley but also several top Democrats including many top officials from Democrat President Joe Biden’s current administration as well as other globalists like the president of the Council on Foreign Relations Michael Froman, WestExec’s Michele Flournoy who worked at the same firm connected to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, former CIA director Michael Morrell, and many more. Some Republicans, like Rep. John Moolenaar (R-MI), are also listed to speak at this event, so there will probably be awkward interactions at the Chamber’s gathering between them and the globalists now in charge of the Chamber as this formal Ways and Means Committee investigation into the Chamber’s tax status commences. Top business leaders set to speak there like Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger might even face questions about why they are associating with a group under investigation like this. Dues-paying member corporations who attend the event may also have questions about why the Ways and Means Committee is investigating the organization now.

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