Gillespie: Democrats Unfairly Attacked Chamber of Commerce Spending

Posted October 10, 2010 at 12:15pm

Updated: 4:49 p.m.

Republican strategist Ed Gillespie pushed back hard Sunday against Democratic accusations that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce used foreign corporate dues to pay for campaign ads.

He and senior White House adviser David Axelrod appeared separately on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” and Gillespie accused Axelrod and Democrats of taking a guilty-until-proved-innocent attitude toward the chamber.

When asked Sunday what proof he had that the chamber was spending foreign money on American campaigns, Axelrod fired back with, “Well, do you have any evidence that it’s not?” He then criticized the chamber for not voluntarily making its spending more transparent.

The charge was first made by ThinkProgress, a website affiliated with the progressive Center for American Progress. Gillespie pointed to Washington Post and New York Times coverage that “completely refudiated” the charge, using a made-up word mixing “refute” and “repudiate” that former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin deployed over the summer. He accused ThinkProgress of being less than transparent about its own donors.

“The fact is that this is the kind of abuse of power in a lot of ways and the kind of attacks that most Americans are rejecting,” Gillespie said. “And it’s one of the reasons [Democrats are] in such trouble in this election.”

Axelrod said he does not foresee a GOP takeover of the House in the midterm elections Nov. 2, but he said he hopes Republicans will use the seats they are expected to gain to cooperate more with Democrats on legislation.

“I’m hoping that with more seats, the Republicans will feel a greater sense of responsibility to work with us to solve some of these problems,” he said.

“There will be areas where there’s cooperation and areas where there’s opposition” from Republicans, Gillespie said, citing as an example of the latter a GOP push for reducing the spending levels seen under Democrats.

“But on areas, maybe, like free-trade agreements, I think there may be some common ground,” he said. “If they can find some areas where you can get spending restraint with this administration, Republicans would be happy to go along with that.”