U.S. Chamber Made Record Donation for Losing GOP Ohio Candidate Matt Dolan

A new FEC filing shows the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s massive donations to pro-Dolan super PAC the Buckeye Leadership Fund.

U.S. Chamber Made Record Donation for Losing GOP Ohio Candidate Matt Dolan
Matt Dolan pictured at his 2022 election watch party. Dolan lost again in the 2024 Ohio Republican Senate primary. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Corporate lobbying giant the U.S. Chamber of Commerce donated $4.1 million last quarter to support a Republican establishment-aligned candidate in Ohio’s Republican Senate primary who was defeated by a candidate backed by former President Donald Trump. 

The Chamber, a trade association funded by dues from American companies, gave the funds to the Buckeye Leadership Fund over two transactions in early March, according to contributions information recently reported to the Federal Election Commission. The PAC spent more than $7  million in March to support Republican Ohio state Senator Matt Dolan.

In the days leading up to the March 20 primary contest, polls indicated that Dolan had a slight advantage in the three-person primary contest, but that was before Trump made a strong push for Bernie Moreno, a former car salesman who went on to prevail with more than 50% of the vote. Trump held a rally for Moreno in Dayton, Ohio just days before the contest that was attended by a couple thousand spectators. The rally was sponsored by an independent pro-Moreno group called the Buckeye Values PAC. 

Dolan was endorsed by GOP establishment figures including former Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Gov. Mike DeWine. Dolan also ran in the 2022 Ohio Senate primary and lost to Trump-backed Sen. J.D. Vance and other candidates. Dolan was the only primary candidate that year who did not express full support for Trump.

Dolan had been named a “Champion of Business” in 2021 by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

The $4.1 million the Chamber gave to the pro-Dolan PAC is the most it has ever donated to a super PAC, according to FEC data. Its second-largest contribution was $3 million it gave to the pro-Senate Republicans super PAC Senate Leadership Fund in 2022. As a nonprofit, the Chamber is not required to disclose its donors, causing some to characterize it as a “dark money” fund. The Chamber says it is funded by a broad range of companies, but a 2023 Public Citizens analysis of the group’s 2021 tax filing determined that nearly half of its funds that year came from 46 donors who gave more than $1 million.