Monday, September 13, 2010

Group Seeks Audit of U.S Chamber of Commerce and Affiliate

A group called U.S. Chamber Watch (“Chamber Watch”) has asked the Internal Revenue Service to audit the Starr Foundation, the National Chamber Foundation (“NCF”) and the Chamber of Commerce of the USA, also known as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (the “Chamber”).  The Chamber is an organization exempt from federal income tax and described in Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code, and  NCF is a tax-exempt affiliate of the Chamber described in Code section 501(c)(3).   In its letter to the IRS, Chamber Watch asserts that the Starr Foundation, a private foundation established by AIG founder Cornelius Vander Starr, appears to have acted contrary to the requirements of Code section 501(c)(3) by making $19 million in grants to NCF, which then used the money to “finance NCF’s transfer of at least $18 million” to the US Chamber of Commerce.   The letter further states that “it appears that charitable funds” were eventually used to support the Chamber’s “lobbying and electoral agenda.”   As reported in the New York Times, the Chamber’s chief financial officer, Stan Harrell, maintains that the Chamber's legal and accounting advisors have reviewed the Starr Foundation funding and found that it complied with all relevant tax law.  He is further reported as saying, “Chamber Watch, which was created by a federation of five unions called Change to Win, was simply trying to create trouble for the chamber because of its opposing political views.”


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