Washington, D.C. – Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva and Keith Ellison are asking the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) to disclose a list of its members and donors, and to explain a $3.7 million donation from Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS.
In a June 12 letter, included below, the co-chairs raise concerns that NFIB is not truly acting on behalf of small business interests. The letter asks NFIB to disclose its recent donors and members and to explain political stances at odds with the needs of small businesses.
NFIB is leading the legal challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often referred to as health care reform, and filed the National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius case that the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on this month.
The group calls itself “The Voice of Small Business,” but recent reports* have raised questions about whether it actually represents major corporations and conservative political interests. “We believe the financial ties of the NFIB to corporate-funded political activist groups such as Crossroads GPS … call into question the NFIB’s role in speaking for small business interests,” the co-chairs statein the letter.
Crossroads GPS filed a spending report with the Internal Revenue Service that shows the organization gave NFIB a $3.7 million grant in 2010. The only group Crossroads gave more money to that year was Americans for Tax Reform, which received $4 million.
“If anyone, of whatever political persuasion, claims to be speaking for small business interests in this country, and is launching lawsuits on their behalf, we should know who’s paying for it and who they really are,” Rep. Grijalva said. “This is about providing the political transparency the American people have demanded for years. No group should have the power to take millions of dollars from partisan activists, use it to disguise its true intentions from the public, and then influence the course of our democracy without answering any questions.”
“The Affordable Care Act, or ‘ObamaCare,’ is a major accomplishment that is already benefitting millions of Americans.The fact that the NFIB has asked the highest court in the land to review the law—and possibly overturn it—means relevant information about participants in should be disclosed,” added Rep. Ellison (D-MN).We believe Americans should know who is funding a lawsuit that could take away their access to health care.”
The full text of the letter is below. A PDF with signatures is available at http://1.usa.gov/KBrlxJ.
* - See the following:
President, National Federation of Independent Business
53 Century Blvd., Suite 250
Nashville, TN 37214
Dear Mr. Danner,
We write to express concern about how small business owners are being represented before the Supreme Court in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, the legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act. We are concerned that the lawsuit is being funded by large corporate interests that do not speak for the American people.
Questions about NFIB’s funding and membership were raised as far back as 2009 by the New York Times.We believe the financial ties of the NFIB to corporate-funded political activist groups such as Crossroads GPS – whose parent organization, American Crossroads, counts Karl Rove as an adviser and whose president, Steven Law, was formerly general counsel at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – call into question the NFIB’s role in speaking for small business interests. Given recent disclosures about your finances and those of other groups, we are writing to ask who is funding your lawsuit and other legal and political operations.
Why is NFIB the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit that, if found in your favor, would thrust small business owners back into the ineffective system of skyrocketing rates and low-quality coverage? This is not in the best interest of small business owners, and it does not reflect the popular opinion of the American small business community. As CBS News recently reported, while you continue to argue the law will hurt small businesses, “Other small business groups argue the opposite, claiming that the law is already lowering costs, expanding firms’ insurance options, and easing the process of arranging coverage.”
This leads us to ask who the NFIB represents.
A recent 990 filing with the Internal Revenue Service by the 501(c)(4) Crossroads GPS shows that NFIB received a $3.7 million grant from the group in 2010. Out of a dozen grants disclosed by Crossroads GPS in this filing, NFIB’s was second in size only to a $4 million grant to Americans for Tax Reform and was larger than eight of the other grants combined.
This financial support from Crossroads GPS raises serious questions that small business owners, Congress, the Supreme Court, and the American public deserve to have answered before the Court rules on the challenge to the Affordable Care Act. Accordingly, we ask you to respond to the following requests for documents and answers to questions.
- Please explain why Crossroads provided NFIB with a $3.7 million donation and how that money was used. Please provide pertinent records.
- Please report all donors to NFIB over the past three years. For each year please provide the donor names and donation amounts.
- Please provide the members of NFIB during the past three years. For each member, please provide the following:
a. Name of member;
b. Name of member’s company; and
c. Membership fees, dues, or donations.
Please follow up with Brad Bauman, executive director of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, at 1511 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C., 20515. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 225-2435.
We thank you for your time and attention to this matter. We and the American small business community look forward to clarity on these important issues. Please provide all requested information no later than June 22.
Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva
Co-Chair, Congressional Progressive Caucus
Rep. Keith Ellison
Co-Chair, Congressional Progressive Caucus
# # #
 Robb Mendelbaum, “Whom Does the N.F.I.B. Represent (Besides Its Members)?” New York Times, August 26, 2009.
 Alain Sherter, “Small Business Owners Mixed Over Health Care Law,” CBS News, March 29, 2012.