Chamber: They Just Hate Us Because We’re Awesome


The US Chamber of Commerce has had a very rough week. Mother Jones exposed their inflated membership numbers, forcing the Chamber to shrink its tally by 90 percent. Following a series of high-profile departures by members who opposed the leadership’s position on climate change, a group of liberal NGOs has organized a “Stop the Chamber” campaign, and the San Francisco Chamber is publicly divorcing them. The Chamber is so beleagured that it is now painting itself as the victim of—wait for it—a “corporate campaign.”

In a memo to members obtained by Mother Jones, Chamber of Commerce Chief Operating Officer David Chavern urges members to ignore the national campaign against them, describing it simply as proof of the Chamber’s awesomeness:

“Please note that these calls against the Chamber are part of a broad-based, multi-source campaign against us being carried out by our normal adversaries—trial lawyers, activist unions, environmental extremists, etc.,” wrote Chavern. “It is a ‘corporate campaign’ in the classic sense, where interest groups are looking for public leverage to force us to do things against our members’ interests.”

“Frankly, these efforts are simply the result of how effective we have been in opposing Card Check, as well as certain aspects of proposed healthcare, capital market and climate change legislation,” he continued.

The Chamber did not respond to requests to confirm or deny the authenticity of the memo. We’ve reprinted the full dispatch below the fold:

To: President’s Advisory Group and National Account Members
From: David Chavern

We understand that you may have received e-mails, letters and other communications from various groups asking your company to withdraw its support from the Chamber.

Please note that these calls against the Chamber are part of a broad-based, multi-source campaign against us being carried out by our normal adversaries—trial lawyers, activist unions, environmental extremists, etc. It is a “corporate campaign” in the classic sense, where interest groups are looking for public leverage to force us to do things against our members’ interests. (In fact, we are going to be sending you some additional information in the near future about the scope and objectives of this campaign.) Frankly, these efforts are simply the result of how effective we have been in opposing Card Check, as well as certain aspects of proposed healthcare, capital market and climate change legislation.

Our efforts to fix these key pieces of legislation are not going to stop – business needs health care reform that focuses on reducing costs, we need (as our Capital Markets Commission Report over two years ago called for) modernization of financial regulation across-the-board, and we need and continue to call for comprehensive climate change legislation.

The Chamber also intends to continue being successful, so we expect the negative messages to your company may continue. In all circumstances, I and other Chamber staff are available to provide you with more background on our policy positions, along with help in any responses that might be warranted. I do apologize, though, for any annoyance and inconvenience these efforts against us might cause you.

Thank you very much for your continued support.

Please let Tom Donohue or me know if you have any questions or comments.

Many thanks — David

WE DON'T KNOW

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.