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N.Y. probes U.S. Chamber donations

June 27, 2012 at 8:39 PM

ALBANY, N.Y., June 27 (UPI) -- New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating tax-exempt contributions to politically active organizations, The New York Times reported.

The investigation centers on political activity by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been among the most active participants in recent electoral politics but is not legally required to publicly identify donors, the Times reported Wednesday.

Citing people with knowledge of the investigation, the newspaper said Schneiderman issued a subpoena Tuesday to the National Chamber Foundation -- a tax-exempt foundation affiliated with the chamber -- demanding documentation including e-mails and bank records, to determine whether an $18 million loan from the foundation to the chamber was used for lobbying and political activity. The purpose of the loan was described at the time as a capital campaign, the report said.

The attorney general is also looking into dealings between the National Chamber Foundation and the Starr Foundation, which awards grants for education, healthcare and public policy, among other categories, and issued grants to the chamber foundation in 2003 and 2004, the Times said -- around the time of the chamber foundation's $18 million loan to the chamber.

Watchdog groups have complained the loan was used to lobby for tort reform legislation, and to pay for issue advertising, primarily against Democrats, in the 2004 presidential and congressional campaigns.

Neither Schneiderman nor the chamber, through a spokeswoman, would comment on the report, the Times said.

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