Member Groups Quit Chamber Over Attack Ads

In an echo of last year’s “monkey trial” imbroglio, the hard-hitting US Chamber of Commerce is facing another round of blowback, this time in response to its bare-knuckled, $75 million ad campaign to elect a Republican House. Politico reports that dozens of local Chambers are expressing their displeasure with the national group’s partisan politics:

More than 40 local chambers issued statements during the midterms distancing themselves from the U.S. Chamber’s campaign — including nearly every major local chamber in Iowa and New Hampshire, key states for the presidential campaign.

Other chambers plan to take the extraordinary step of ending their affiliation with the U.S. Chamber, including the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce in Pennsylvania. Its leaders reported being inundated with angry — and sometimes profanity-laced — telephone calls from people objecting to the U.S. Chamber-backed ads.

Yet the revolt of the local chambers, which may soon include a splinter group backing curbs on greenhouse gas emissions, isn’t likely to cripple the nation’s most powerful business lobby. The locals account for a tiny fraction of the US Chamber’s budget and have virtually no say over its policies. As I’ve reported, the US Chamber’s real might resides in a handful of large companies and special interests, such as the health insurance industry’s main trade group, which in 2009 ponied up a whopping 40 percent of its $205 million budget.