Feb. 12, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

K Street Files: The Anti-Chamber

A group of activists has taken out an ad offering a $200,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue.

The full-page ad, which ran in the Dec. 4 Washington City Paper, asks would-be tipsters to call a 1-800 number hot line or to e-mail any dirt on Donohue. “We now seek hard evidence that will stand up in the court of law,” the ad states. It wants “documents, affidavits and testimony implicating Donohue in crimes; including fraud, tax violations, campaign finance violations, money laundering, insider trading, election tampering, pension fund and stockholder manipulations.”

Chamber spokesman Eric Wohlschlegel responded Friday, “The media should be following the money trail behind this scurrilous group instead of giving credence to its outrageous tactics, and we are considering our legal options with the ad.”

According to the Web site of the group behind the ad, stopthechamber.com, one of the organizations behind the request is the Yes Men, which pulled a hoax on reporters in October by issuing a phony press release saying the chamber had switched its position on climate change. The chamber has come under fire for its opposition to climate change bills, and even some big companies such as Exelon Energy and Nike have left the big-business lobby as a result.

Despite the earlier hoax, Kevin Zeese, member of the board of directors of Velvet Revolution, which is behind the ad, said the $200,000 reward is no joke.

“This is definitely legitimate,” he said. “Velvet Revolution has done this kind of thing with other issues, including election fraud.”

Zeese says he’s confident he’ll get the goods on Donohue.

“There are enough people that are angry at [Tom Donohue], they’ll tell us what’s going on,” Zeese said, noting that more ads are in the works. “We’ve begun to get tips, and we’re investigating them.”

Zeese said he’s not coordinating with unions or the White House, but he said the chamber has definitely upset both. “They’ve been making a lot of mistakes lately and been pretty outlandishly partisan,” he said. “They’re losing support in the business community.”

Under the Line. When Congress toughened its ethics rules, it sought to slow down the revolving door between Capitol Hill and K Street. However, the rules that prevent House aides from lobbying their former bosses for a year after they leave their jobs applies to only a tiny fraction of former staffers, according to an analysis of Members’ disbursement reports, which went online for the first time last week.

The reports of third-quarter 2009 expenses show that only about 3 percent of current House staffers would meet the salary threshold to come under the lobbying restrictions.

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