U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a pro-corporate trade group, is the largest lobbying organization in the United States, and also works to influence policy in many other countries. The Chamber describes itself as "the world's largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region."
Despite these claims, the New York Times reported in October 2010 that half of the Chamber's $140 million in contributions in 2008 came from just 45 big-money donors, many of whom enlisted the Chamber's help to fight political and public opinion battles on their behalf (such as opposing financial or healthcare reforms, or other regulations). The Chamber is "dominated by oil companies, pharmaceutical giants, automakers and other polluting industries," according to James Carter, executive director of the Green Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber has been described as becoming "a fully functional part of the partisan Republican machine" after CEO and president Thomas J. Donohue took office in 1997. Prior to Donohue's tenure, the Chamber "used to be a trade association that advocated in a bipartisan manner for narrowly tailored policies to benefit its members."
Charles Koch is the right-wing billionaire owner of Koch Industries. As one of the richest people in the world, he is a key funder of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on Charles Koch and his late brother David include: Koch Brothers, Americans for Prosperity, Stand Together Chamber of Commerce, Stand Together, Koch Family Foundations, Koch Universities, and I360.
- 1 Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
- 2 Council of State Chambers
- 2.1 Luntz Global Poll of Executives and CEOs Exposed in 2016
- 3 Federal Lobbying
- 4 Election Spending and Political Contributions
- 5 Large Corporations and Contributors Dominate U.S. Chamber
- 6 Opposition to Addressing Climate Change
- 6.1 Chamber Distributes Books on Energy to Children (2010)
- 6.2 Opposition to Climate Change Legislation (2009)
- 6.3 Citizen Action Against the Chamber of Commerce's Stance on Climate Change
- 7 Labor Issues
- 8 U.S. Chamber-Backed Media Outlets
- 9 Legal Issues and Litigation
- 10 Ties to the Tobacco Industry
- 11 Alleged Spying on Critics (2010-2011)
- 12 Accusations of Tax Fraud and Money Laundering
- 13 Affiliated Centers, Organizations, and Campaigns
- 14 Personnel
- 15 Contact
- 16 Archived Information
- 16.1 TradeRoots (2013)
- 16.2 Chamber Campaigns (2010-2011)
- 16.3 Opposing National Health Care Reform (2009)
- 16.4 Support for National Gas Tax (2007)
- 16.5 General James Jones Head Chamber's Institute for Energy (2007)
- 16.6 SCHIP Veto (2007)
- 16.7 Lobbying Information (2004-2007)
- 16.8 TheTrueCosts.org
- 16.9 Social Security
- 16.10 National Chamber Foundation
- 17 Articles and Resources
Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It has been a member of the Civil Justice Task Force, the Education Task Force, the International Relations Task Force and the Telecommunications and Information Technology Task Force, according to ALEC materials. According to an August 2013 ALEC board document obtained by The Guardian, its Campaign for Free Enterprise terminated its membership in ALEC's Education Task Force on April 22, 2013. Its Institute for Legal Reform, however, had also been part of this task force, and was not listed as "lapsed" or "terminated."
Page Faulk, Vice President, presented "The Promoting Merit in 'Merit Selection' Act" model legislation at Civil Justice Task Force Meeting at the 2011 meeting. Stanton D. Anderson, Senior Counsel to the President and Chief Executive Officer, issued remarks on the "Free Enterprise Education Act" model legislation, and Roberta Philips sponsored discussion and voting on the act, at the Education Task Force Meeting of the 2011 meeting. Mark Elliot, Executive Vice President, and Andrew Kovalcin, Director of Stakeholder Advocacy, both of the Chamber's Global Intellectual Property Center, introduced the "Resolution in Support of Federal Efforts to Address Rogue Internet Sites that Sell Counterfeit Products and Facilitate Digital Theft" at the Telecommunications and Information Technology Task Force Meeting and presented on the "Erosion of Intellectual Property" and introduced the "ALEC Resolution to Counter Rogue Internet Sites" model policy at the International Relations Task Force Meeting at the 2011 meeting.
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our ExposedbyCMD.org site.
Council of State Chambers
The Council of State Chambers (COSC) is a little known 501(c)(6) organization that helps the top lobbyists for state chambers of commerce get on message about the national political agenda of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It works closely with the U.S. Chamber, which is a member along with most state chambers.
According to its website, "The Council of State Chambers (COSC) is the national organization for state chamber CEOs and their executive leadership. The purpose of COSC is to promote cooperation among state chambers of commerce, strengthen existing state chambers, and promote the extensions of the state chamber of commerce movement throughout the country." The group is part of an extremely powerful network of organizations that serve, effectively, as arms of the U.S Chamber.
In 2016, the Center for Media and Democracy released a COSC poll of the nation's top executives that showed that they supported raising the minimum wage, paid sick days, predictive scheduling, maternity and paternity leave, and other progressive policies (see below). These documents were also reported in the Washington Post.
For more information on the Council of State Chambers see the Sourcewatch page here.
Luntz Global Poll of Executives and CEOs Exposed in 2016
On April 4, 2016 the Center for Media and Democracy, publisher of Sourcewatch.org, released documents that it obtained from a top GOP polling firm, Luntz Global, which show widespread support from the Chamber's members for policies such as an increase in the minimum wage, paid sick leave, paid paternity and paid maternity leave.
The polling showed that 80 percent of the state chambers' own business members supported minimum wage increases, while 73 percent support paid sick time. Yet over the last three years 48 state chambers have publicly opposed minimum wage increases. And in the last 5 years, 75 percent of the country's state chambers have opposed paid sick leave policies. Both measures are explicitly opposed in the U.S. Chamber's 2016 policy platform.
"This webinar reveals just how deeply corporate interests and their lobbyists are influencing the priorities of state Chambers of Commerce, even when that agenda contradicts the opinions of their local business members," said Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy. "Rather than listening to its members and crafting a policy agenda that reflects their priorities, Chamber lobbyists pick their policy positions behind closed doors and then figure out how to convince their members to fall in line." She added, "It's a warped, undemocratic process, and the Chambers should be held accountable for their claims to the public, press, and elected officials that businesses oppose raising the minimum wage, paid sick leave, increased family and medical leave and other common sense policies, when in fact substantial majorities of business executives actually support these public policies."
- The poll, marked up by CMD
- Short video on the webinar by CMD
- Copy of the slideshow marked up by CMD
- Transcript of the webinar, highlighted by CMD
- Full version of the webinar
- Information about who spoke during the webinar
- CMD's press release summarizing key information about the materials
- Analysis of the polling results by CMD
- Interview on NPR's Fresh Air about the materials and the efforts to preempt local efforts to increase the minimum wage, paid sick, family leave, predictive scheduling and other popular measures
About Luntz Global
Luntz Global is a prominent GOP polling and communications firm headed by Frank Luntz. Its website states: "Our analysis of the results will help you learn exactly what your target audience wants and needs to hear."
- Frank Luntz, president and CEO of Luntz Research Companies, is a pollster and political consultant and a frequent commentator on Fox News.
- David Merritt is the Managing Director for Luntz Global Partners. According to his official biography, Merritt "leads Luntz Global’s political, policy, and healthcare work, helping campaigns, candidates, and companies craft effective messages to persuade skeptical audiences... He was the leading fundraiser and a presidential campaign adviser to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. He worked closely with Speaker Gingrich for more than seven years on a wide range of healthcare issues, including as CEO of the Center for Health Transformation and the Gingrich Group. He was a health policy adviser to the 2008 presidential campaign of Senator John McCain, after serving the same role with former Senator Fred Thompson.”
Who Was Polled
Luntz Global interviewed 1,000 registered voters and "C-level executives" (CEOs, COOs or CFOs) who were members of their local chamber (46 percent), state chamber (28 percent), or the U.S. Chamber (16 percent). 73 percent were CEOs or owners. 49 percent of the firms took in between $50 million-$500 million in annual revenue. 41 percent had 100-499 employees, whie 19 percent had 1,000 or more employees.
Summary of Poll Results
CEOs support raising the state minimum wage 80 percent to 8 percent.
When asked which alternative to raising the minimum wage they preferred, a slight majority preferred the earned income tax credit as an alternative to other options presented. However, when a minimum wage hike was put head-to-head against increasing the earned income tax credit, raising the wage won by a solid margin 54 percent-46 percent.
When asked during the webinar about these surprising results, Merritt said, "it is undeniable that they support an increase" in the minimum wage. "My guess is that they are looking at raising it as a priority... If you are fighting a minimum wage increase, you are fighting an uphill battle." He continued, "most Americans support it, most Republicans support it... A winning argument is to put it up against other issues where it drops as a priority," advised Merritt. "In isolation it is definitely a winner."
Paid Sick Leave
CEOs supported paid sick time 73 percent to 16 percent. When asked about "more time off to take care of sick children or relatives" CEOs supported it 83 percent to 5 percent.
Maternity and Paternity Leave
CEOs supported "increasing maternity leave" 72 percent to 9 percent, and supported "mandating paternity leave" by 82 percent to 7 percent.
On predictive scheduling, CEOs support it 78 percent to 11 percent.
Predictive scheduling measures would limit employers' ability to use on-call scheduling for their employees, requiring them to give sufficient advance notice to their employees about when they will and will not be working.
"On-call" scheduling practices at fast food restaurants and chain stores that do not allow employees to plan for the care of their children have recently come to public attention, prompting San Francisco to pass one of the nation's first ordinances to address the problem in 2015. Already industry is talking about preempting such ordinances in certain states.
State Chambers along with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have been pushing preemption of living wage, minimum wage, prevailing wage, and other progressive policies promulgated by localities for some time. Multistate Associates has been supportive of these state preemption efforts.
In the Luntz Global poll CEOs were asked: "All of these issues may be important but when it comes to where an elected official stands, which issue is the MOST important to you?"
"State preemption of local mandates" was at the bottom of the list at 10 percent.
Of those who said "state preemption of local mandates are most important," only 18 percent, the smallest number, were worried about "ensuring local governments do not overly burden businesses when it comes to wages and benefits."
"Keeping health care costs low for American families" was a key concern for CEOs. Significantly, it far outstripped "replacing ACA [the Affordable Care Act]" or "making health care affordable for small businesses" as a priority.
As of July, 2016 the Chamber spends more money on lobbying than any other interest group. In the first seven months of 2016, the Chamber and its affiliate groups reported $22,925,000 in federal lobbying spending. Its top issue areas were torts, finance, law enforcement/crime, and government issues, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. See here for a list of bills lobbied by the Chamber in 2016.
Lobbying Spending by Year
The Chamber reported the following federal lobbying spending by year:
- In 2015, $84.73 million total was spent by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and subsidiaries, Institute for Legal Reform, ctr for Capital Markets Competitiveness, Global Intel Prop, and US-Mexico Ldshp Initiative.
- In 2014, $124.1 million total was spent by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and subsidiaries, Institute for Legal Reform, Ctr for Capital Markets Competitiveness, Global Intel Prop, and Essential Worker Immigration Coalition.
- In 2013, $74.5 million total was spent by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and subsidiaries, Institute for Legal Reform, Ctr for Capital Markets Competitiveness, Global Intel Prop, and Essential Worker Immigration Coalition.
- In 2012, $136.3 million total was spent by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and subsidiaries, Institute for Legal Reform, Ctr for Capital Markets Competitiveness, Global Intel Prop, and Essential Worker Immigration Coalition.
- In 2011, $66.4 million total was spent by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and subsidiaries, Institute for Legal Reform, Ctr for Capital Markets Competitiveness, Global Intel Prop, and Essential Worker Immigration Coalition. 
- In 2010, $132.1 million total was spent by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and subsidiaries, the Institute for Legal Reform, the Ctr for Capital Markets Competitiveness, Global Intel Prop, and Essential Worker Immigration Coalition. 
- In 2009, $144.6 million total was spent by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and subsidiaries, the Institute for Legal Reform, Ctr for Capital Markets Competitiveness, Global Intel Prop, and the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition. 
- in 2008, $92 million total was spent by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and subsidiaries, the Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), Commerce Global Intel Prop, Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, US Chamber of Commerce/Panacamara, and Institute for 21st Century Energy.
- In 2007, $21.2 million total was spent by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its subsidiary the Institute for Legal Reform (ILR); $11.78 million for the Chamber and $9.4 million by ILR.
- In 2006, $72.7 million total was spent by the Chamber and ILR; $45.7 million for the Chamber and $27 million for the ILR.
- In 2005, $39.8 million total was spent by the Chamber and ILR; $20 million for the Chamber and $19.8 million for ILR.
- In 2004, $53.4 million total was spent by the Chamber and ILR; $28.8 million for the Chamber and $24.5 million for ILR.
Election Spending and Political Contributions
2016 Presidential Elections
As of July 20 the U.S. Chamber reported $16,653,027 in outside spending during the 2016 elections.
Candidates receiving the most support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are:
- Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) $1,908,300
- Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02) $1,750,150
- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) $1,050,150
- Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) $915,438
- Rep. Joe Heck, running for Senate (R-NV) $834,337
Candidates that the U.S. Chamber is spending most heavily against include:
- Katie McGinty, running for Senate (D-PA) $1,797,550
- Gov. Maggie Hassan, running for Senate (D-NH) $1,560,150
- Rep. Patrick Murphy, running in the Democratic Senate primary (D-FL) $1,500,150
- Fmr Gov. Ted Strickland, running for Senate (D-OH) $1,440,588
2014 Midterm Elections
The U.S. Chamber reported $35,464,243 in outside spending during the 2014 midterm elections. The bulk of this spending (nearly $24 million) was for media buys, and the total included $1,412,500 reported as spent against Democratic candidates, $11,603,968 for Republican candidates, and $1,000,000 against Republican candidates.
2012 Presidential Elections
The U.S. Chamber reported $32,255,439 in outside spending during the 2012 elections. The bulk of this spending ($21,376,598) was for media buys, and the total included $305,044 reported as spent for Democratic candidates, $10,804,999 against Democratic candidates, and $1,134,015 for Republican candidates. This was the first election cycle in which the Chamber spent money on ads that explicitly told viewers to vote for or against a candidate.
2010 Midterm Elections: One of Top Spenders
In the 2010 election cycle, the U.S. Chamber "spent nearly $33 million on electioneering communications, making it the biggest spender among organizations that were not national party committees," according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
It played a major role in the Republican victories in the 2010 midterm Congressional elections, promising to spend $75 million, and helping to organize and coordinate spending by other "outside interest groups" like American Crossroads and American Action Network. In a blog post the night before the election, the Chamber stated it "had been a game-changing political force in these midterms. We’ve engaged in tight, competitive races; and we’ve altered them."
The Chamber claimed it offered support to all pro-business candidates, regardless of party affiliation. However, according to a report from the union-backed Chamber Watch, "[i]t worked almost exclusively to elect Republicans in the powerful Senate, giving one lone endorsement to a Democrat, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, on whom it made no expenditures. On the House side, the Chamber created an appearance of bipartisanship by spending on behalf of eleven Democrats. But the Chamber’s support for Democratic members was razor-thin, and sometimes, the Chamber withheld support altogether, even where Democratic members worked hard to earn the Chamber’s approval." 
While 93 percent of reported expenditures went to support Republicans, the 6 percent spent to support Democrats was spent on generic, non-candidate-specific ads, rather than more effective ads attacking opponents. The ads tended not to identify candidate-specific positive qualities, instead relying on a template with the same title for several different candidates, only changing the candidate’s name, picture and office number. The ads were also run later than ads supporting their Republican counterparts.
Ties to American Crossroads
American Crossroads and the Chamber are closely tied, and closely coordinated their efforts in the 2010 midterm elections.
In 2008, Chamber President Tom Donahue told the Los Angeles Times that he wanted to get very involved with elections. "Alarmed at the increasingly populist tone of the 2008 political campaign, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is set to issue a fiery promise to spend millions of dollars to defeat candidates deemed to be anti-business. 'We plan to build a grass-roots business organization so strong that when it bites you in the butt, you bleed,' chamber President Tom Donohue said."
According to a 2010 U.S. Chamber Watch report:
- The U.S. Chamber first began to coordinate massive Republican resources when its general counsel, Steven Law, met with Ed Gillespie, Republican political strategist and former Counselor to President George W. Bush. According to the Associated Press, Law met with Gillespie in October of 2009, “calculating how to exploit the voter anger they had seen erupt at Democratic town hall meetings that summer.” 
- It was at this meeting that they conceived of American Crossroads an organization, that according to its website, is dedicated to “renewing America’s commitment to individual liberty, limited government, free enterprise and a strong national defense.” Law left the U.S. Chamber to serve as the group’s CEO.
According to Think Progress:
- “At every turn, from the operatives running the two organizations to their targeted races to their media firms, American Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are bound to one another…the two groups have exhibited uncanny coordination in their election targeting. In a number of Senate races, the Chamber and American :Crossroads coordinated their advertisements – one group put up ads in a race as the other group pulled its own down – in :order to ensure attack ads were always running against the Democratic candidate.”
The U.S. Chamber's partisan, corporate-funded (and often untrue) campaign attacks have compelled many local Chambers of Commerce to disassociate from the U.S. Chamber.  Despite the U.S. Chamber's attempts to portray itself as a community of small businesses and local Chambers of Commerce, the interests the U.S. Chamber served in the 2010 elections were those of its large corporate donors. More than 40 local chambers issued statements during the campaign distancing themselves from the U.S. Chamber, including chambers in the "battleground states" of Iowa and New Hampshire. Some chambers are considering what Politico calls the "extraordinary" step of ending their affiliation with the U.S. Chamber and quitting in protest.
Large Corporations and Contributors Dominate U.S. Chamber
Report: Large Contributions Form Bulk of Chamber Funding (2014)
A 2014 report by Public Citizen, "The Gilded Chamber: Despite Claims of Representing Millions of Businesses, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Gets Most of Its Money From Just 64 Donors," analyzed the 1,619 contributions listed by the Chamber and its affiliate working against consumer access to courts, the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), on their 2012 Form 990 tax returns. Just a tiny fraction of their donors account for most of their contributions, the report found.
The average reported contribution to the U.S. Chamber was $111,254, with the top 43 entities donating a combined $80.4 million.
"The U.S. Chamber is one of the largest conduits of dark money in the country, but it refuses to disclose its donors," said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, where U.S. Chamber Watch is housed. "The American people deserve to know more about who’s influencing this powerful force in our politics. By looking at the size of the Chamber’s and ILR’s donations, we can learn a little more about what kinds of businesses they represent – seemingly, very large ones."
Large Corporations Dominate Membership
The Chamber claims to represent 3 million businesses, 96 percent of which are small, defined as having fewer than 100 employees. But the Chamber arrives at this figure by counting all businesses that are members of state and local chambers, which are independent organizations that pay a few hundreds dollars a year to affiliate with the U.S. Chamber for discounts and other programs and have no say over the national group's political activities, its lobbying, or endorsements. The U.S. Chamber's membership is actually about 300,000 businesses, and the Chamber's boardroom is mostly representatives of large corporations. Its 125-member board includes representatives of just two local chambers and a handful of small businesses. The rest are primarily from large corporations, like Pfizer, Alcoa, and JP Morgan Chase. In 2008, one-third of the $147 million the group raised came from just 19 companies. In 2010, the watchdog group U.S. ChamberWatch used a disclosure law to see the Chamber's IRS 990 form. It showed that 55 percent of its funding came from just 16 companies, each of which gave more than a million dollars. (Exactly which companies is unknown. U. S. law requires the Chamber to list amounts given on its annual tax return, but it is not obligated to disclose names.)
In 2010, chambers in San Antonio, New York, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut began publicly moving away from the U.S. Chamber, disavowing the 2010 political attack ads that the U.S. Chamber had been broadcasting in their communities. Newer chambers, like the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, have declined to affiliate with the national group and have been among its most vocal critics: "They get the majority of their funding from big businesses. That's who drives their decisions," explains Executive Director Frank Knapp, noting that, unlike the U. S. Chamber, his group supported the health care bill and financial reform, and favors legislation to curb global warming.
Opposition to Addressing Climate Change
|Documents Contained at the Anti-Environmental Archives|
Documents written by or referencing this person or organization are contained in the Anti-Environmental Archive, launched by Greenpeace on Earth Day, 2015. The archive contains 3,500 documents, some 27,000 pages, covering 350 organizations and individuals. The current archive includes mainly documents collected in the late 1980s through the early 2000s by The Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research (CLEAR), an organization that tracked the rise of the so called "Wise Use" movement in the 1990s during the Clinton presidency. Access the index to the Anti-Environmental Archives here.
Chamber Distributes Books on Energy to Children (2010)
In 2010, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce joined with Scholastic Books to distribute roughly 100,000 books about the potential perils of government fossil fuel regulation to classrooms across the country, as part of its "Shedding Light on Energy" campaign. The book asks, “What do you think could happen if one of our energy sources was suddenly unavailable (e.g., power plant maintenance, government curb on production, etc.)?” Chamber officials maintained that there was no “hidden agenda” behind the question or the educational outreach effort in general, although the book was being distributed at a time when the Environmental Protection Agency was set to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
The energy industry has a long history of working to get its perspective into classrooms. In the 1970s, for example, nuclear power officials distributed comic books in schools as it dealt with the PR fallout from the near meltdown at Three Mile Island. And BP helped develop environmental lesson plans in California, the Sacramento Bee reported last month. The posters and worksheets that the Chamber was sending out to schools aross the country was based on statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and the assignments were mostly aimed at teaching students how to use charts and graphs to convey where U.S. energy comes from and how it is used.
Opposition to Climate Change Legislation (2009)
In 2009, the Chamber of Commerce lobbied against climate change legislation introduced by Congress. In describing its strategy, the Chamber said it would "resist ill-conceived legislation that is economically disruptive of business and industry activities, that creates regulatory and legislative obstacles to development and deployment of affordable, innovative energy technologies, and that could severely damage the security and economy of the United States." The chamber said it supported "mainstream, common sense views" on climate change, but that it opposed the Waxman-Markey Climate Bill passed by the House of Representatives on June 26, 2009.
The group's opposition to the legislation caused a rift among its corporate members. A number of companies announced they were leaving the organization as a result of its stance on climate change regulations. Energy companies Exelon, PG&E, and PNM Resources all announced in September 2009 that they were quitting the Chamber. Apple Inc also resigned from the Chamber, saying in a statement, "We would prefer that the chamber take a more progressive stance on this critical issue and play a constructive role in addressing the climate crisis" Sportswear company Nike also criticized the Chamber's challenge of the U.S. EPA's authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions as air pollution. Nike said it would resign from the Chambers's board of directors, but that it would retain its membership to the organization in order to work for climate change legislation from inside the organization.
Citizen Action Against the Chamber of Commerce's Stance on Climate Change
Yes Men Stage Fake Chamber of Commerce Press Conference (2009)
On October 19, 2009, anti-corporate performance artists the Yes Men issued a fake press release on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, claiming that the Chamber had reversed its position on climate change would no longer lobby against the legislation. The activists managed to secure a room at the National Press Club to stage a press conference announcing the policy shift to reporters. The real Chamber of Commerce spokesperson Eric Wohlschlegel interrupted the event and declared the event a fraud. Afterwards, the Chamber threatened to push for a criminal investigation over the prank.
Grassroots Campaigns Against the Chamber
CREDO Action, part of the Working Assets company, launched a campaign against the Chamber's stance on climate change legislation. The group is organizing an effort to urge members of the lobbying group to resign, calling on them to "denounce the Chamber's extremist position on global warming and revoke your membership effective immediately."
Velvet Revolution has also organized a campaign against the Chamber of Commerce, citing its stance on climate change among other reasons to call for a reform of the corporate lobbying group.
Opposition to NLRB Joint Employer Decision (2014)
The U.S. Chamber opposes the 2014 decision by the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that McDonald's is a joint employer, meaning that the company "could be held jointly liable for labor and wage violations by its franchise operators," according to the New York Times, and could also "give employees more leverage to unionize."
The Chamber's Workforce Freedom Initiative released a report in March 2015 titled "Opportunity at Risk: A New Joint-Employer Standard and the Threat to Small Business." The report "highlights the administration's ongoing effort to redefine the concept of "joint-employment" relationships, which threatens to disrupt major sectors of the economy such as franchising and subcontracting," according to the Chamber, which characterized the NLRB decision as "overreach" that "would facilitate unionization efforts." The WFI report claims treating franchisers and companies that outsource to subcontrators as joint employers would result in "higher costs, fewer new businesses, less growth, and fewer new jobs."
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the International Franchise Association (IFA), National Federation of Independent Business, National Restaurant Association, Job Creators Network, and other corporate lobbying groups to oppose the NLRB's joint employer ruling through the IFA-run Coalition to Save Local Businesses. See the International Franchise Association page for more information.
Opposition to Paid Sick Leave (2011-present)
More than 40 percent of the work force in the United States cannot take sick days without losing wages or possibly their jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Major cities such as Washington DC, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle, as well as the state of Connecticut, have put paid sick day laws on the books; New York City will soon follow suit. The initiative is quickly moving to cities across the country "and in each case, the state and local branches of the National Restaurant Association, the NFIB, and the Chamber are actively opposing it" as they did in Philadelphia. Philadelphia was not the first instance where these special interest groups came together to thwart this legislation. City of Milwaukee voters passed a paid sick days referendum with over 70 percent of the vote in 2008 but when Scott Walker became Wisconsin's governor in 2011, the state affiliate of the National Restaurant Association and the local Chamber lobbied Walker to back "a bill to overturn this expression of local democratic will and preempt any local paid sick day ordinance."
In Wisconsin, a local representative of the US Chamber of Commerce called the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce lobbied together with the Wisconsin Restaurant Association for the adoption of Senate Bill 23, which overturned a local ordinance requiring paid sick leave for workers. The law "specified that paid sick leave could be used if a worker is ill, needs to care for a sick child, or obtain counseling if raped or battered, for example. The law also barred companies from penalizing workers for exercising their rights and from erecting unreasonable barriers to impede the fair use of sick leave." 
In March 2013, the Philadelphia City Council passed, by an 11 to 6 vote, a paid sick days bill that would have allowed employees without sick leave to earn up to four paid sick days per year. Over 180,000 workers in Philadelphia do not have access to paid sick days and would have benefited from this measure.  However, major opponents of the paid sick leave bill, special interest groups aligned with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), successfully lobbied Mayor Nutter to veto it. The bill died when the council was unable to sway enough nay votes to override the mayoral veto; they needed just one more. These groups, the National Restaurant Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) are all tied to ALEC. The case of Philadelphia was unique in "the participation of telecommunications giant Comcast, Philadelphia's highest grossing company and an ALEC member." The corporation spent over $108,000 on lobbying, most of which went towards opposition to the paid sick days bill.
See also the Sourcewatch article Paid Sick Days.
Employee Free Choice Act (2009)
In the 2009 debate over the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), a bill that would make it easier for workers to join a union, "both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO are focusing on grassroots outreach," reported PR Week. Before the bill was introduced, "the Chamber launched the Workforce Freedom Airlift program, a series of events that fly in local small business owners to Washington," to lobby against the bill. The first "airlift," on March 10, 2009, "brought in small business owners from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Nebraska, and Louisiana." Since July 2008, the Chamber has worked with Adfero Group on an anti-EFCA "social media effort," expanding "a virtual march on Washington that was created the last time the bill went to Congress in 2007." It "allows users to register for the march as avatars and send an automatic letter to their elected officials through a Facebook application." 
In April 2009, the Chamber launched a "$1 million television advertising campaign that takes a new line of attack against the Employee Free Choice Act, highlighting a provision that would allow federal arbitrators to set the rules for unionization if management and employees fail to negotiate their own deal." The ads "will hit the airwaves in Nebraska, Virginia, Louisiana, North Dakota and Colorado -- states whose senators could be swing votes." Previous attacks on the bill, from the Chamber and corporate front groups like the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace and Employee Freedom Action Committee, claimed it would get rid of secret ballot elections. The bill would actually allow employees to form unions either by holding elections or signing cards. Although the "no secret ballot" claims are inaccurate, they've been effective, accorting to the Wall Street Journal. The "more than $30 million on TV ads [spent by business groups] in the past few years portraying the secret-ballot provision as antidemocratic ... pressured several key senators to reverse their prior support, leaving the bill several senators short of 60 votes." 
"Under Donohue’s leadership, the Chamber has also emerged as a major player in election politics, helping elect congressional pro-business candidates through financial support and voter activism and turnout generated through the Chamber’s grassroots organization," VoteForBusiness, billed as "Your One-Stop Political Action, Education, and Involvement Tool".
Political Action Committee, The November Fund (2004)
The Chamber sponsored The November Fund, a 527 committee that opposed what it described as frivolous lawsuits and trial lawyers and ran negative campaign advertisements against trial lawyer John Edwards, John Kerry's running mate during the 2004 presidential race.
U.S. Chamber-Backed Media Outlets
Legal Newsline Attacks Wife of Prosecutor Investigating Chamber Affiliate (2014)
See here for more information about the John Doe investigation.
A long-running investigation into whether the campaign of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker illegally coordinated with outside groups, including the Chamber's Wisconsin affiliate Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, was led by a Republican prosecutor and included the participation of elected county District Attorneys from both political parties. But Legal Newsline, an outlet funded by the U.S. Chamber, cited an unnamed source to "break the news" on September 9, 2014 that one of the DAs, John Chisholm, "may have had personal motivations for his investigation," since Chisholm's wife was a public school teacher and union member who "frequently cried when discussing the topic of the union disbanding" as a result of Walker's signature Act 10 legislation. The story was commissioned by the right-wing reporting group the American Media Institute. As the Center for Media and Democracy reported, the allegation was quickly repeated by right-wing media, including the Bradley Foundation-funded Media Trackers and Wisconsin Reporter, The Wall Street Journal, and the UK-based Daily Mail, which ran the headline: "Wife's weeping over anti-union law drove Democratic DA to target Republican governor's staff and conservative activists."
The story fell apart shortly afterward. On September 12, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the unnamed source described as a "former staff prosecutor" was actually Michael Lutz, a former unpaid intern who previously made death threats to the prosecutor and his family. Lutz's involvement was confirmed by the American Media Institute, but Lutz himself declined to comment, saying that he wanted "to stay out of this firestorm." The Journal Sentinel described Lutz's past as "troubled," noting that he had previously worked as a police officer, but had filed for disability in 2006, "saying he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his physical injuries and past media coverage of his actions." In July 2015, Lutz died in an apparent suicide.
Illinois Madison County Record Created by U.S. Chamber
The Madison County Record (madisonrecord.com) is "an Illinois weekly newspaper launched in September  that bills itself as the county's legal journal, reports on one subject: the state courts in southern Illinois," the Washington Post reported in 2004.
The Washington Post noted a "recent front page [that] carried an assortment of stories about lawsuits against businesses. In one, a woman sought $15,000 in damages for breaking her nose at a haunted house. In another, a woman sued a restaurant for $50,000 after she hurt her teeth on a chicken breast... Nowhere was it reported that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce created the Record as a weapon in its multimillion-dollar campaign against lawyers who file those kinds of suits."
As of 2015, the Madison County Record was still operating, and its stories did not appear to include a notice about the outlet's relationship with the U.S. Chamber business lobby. However, its "About" page noted that it was "owned by owned by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform."
Legal Issues and Litigation
National Chamber Litigation Center (2006)
"The National Chamber Litigation Center, the Chamber’s law firm, has become more aggressive in challenging anti-business measures in court, setting a new record for cases entered in each of the last six years and securing 48 court victories in 2006."
The Chamber has taken a lead role in the tort reform movement. It sponsors the Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), a 501(c)6 organization, and Legal Reform Now, a coalition of business associations, think tanks, and legal reform groups. Website: http://www.instituteforlegalreform.com/
On its website, the ILR posted a "State Liability Systems Ranking" which it calls "Lawsuit Climate 2007".
Opposing "Activist Judges"
In late May 2005, the Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform President Lisa Rickard announced it was going to "reign in activist attorneys general." At a Chamber-sponsored conference examining the "appropriate role" of a state attorney general, several speakers "complained that 'Spitzerism' has become a dangerous model for ambitious regulators," refering to New York AG Eliot Spitzer.
Opposition to Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act (2007)
In October 2007, the Chamber filed a friend-of-the court filing in a class action lawsuit under consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court which originated with a California RICO lawsuit involving Microsoft and Best Buy. The Chamber stated that "RICO is getting out of control as a device against business. It has been used in more than 4,500 cases since 2001, with only 35 of those cases filed by the government." The Supreme Court overturned the appeal and ruled that Microsoft and Best Buy are subject to RICO laws.
Ties to the Tobacco Industry
The Chamber has focused on tobacco regulation in the US and globally and has longstanding ties to the tobacco industry. The Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform has focused on part on tobacco litigation and settlements.
Global Campaign to Fight Antismoking Measures (2015 report)
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has actively worked to block anti-smoking efforts worldwide, The New York Times documented in a 2015 story: "From Ukraine to Uruguay, Moldova to the Philippines, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its foreign affiliates have become the hammer for the tobacco industry, engaging in a worldwide effort to fight antismoking laws of all kinds, according to interviews with government ministers, lobbyists, lawmakers and public health groups in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the United States."
In the 2000s, a global treaty called the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control was negotiated through the World Health Organization that "mandates anti-smoking measures and also seeks to curb the influence of the tobacco industry in policy making." The treaty has been ratified by 179 countries (not including the United States) and went into effect in 2005.
The Chamber's "three-pronged strategy" includes lobbying foreign legislatures against anti-smoking laws, pitting countries against each other in trade forums, and protecting the tobacco industry's ability to sue countries who dare to regulate tobacco under international trade agreements. Its campaign includes arguing about the lack of "science-based evidence" that larger warning labels would deter smoking, that antismoking laws would harm the economy, and increasing cigarette taxes would foster the black market.
As of 2015 an Altria Group executive served on the Chamber's board, and according to The New York Times, "Philip Morris International plays a leading role in the global campaign; one executive drafted a position paper used by a chamber affiliate in Brussels, while another accompanied a chamber executive to a meeting with the Philippine ambassador in Washington to lobby against a cigarette-tax increase. The cigarette makers’ payments to the chamber are not disclosed."
The Chamber denies that it is fighting antismoking measures, and claims to be merely advocating for intellectual property rights of companies, against discriminatory treatment of tobacco firms, and opposing excessive taxation. "The Chamber believes that public health policy aimed at curbing smoking can yield positive results, while still upholding intellectual property protections, honoring international agreements, and not singling out any specific industry for discriminatory treatment or destruction of company brands."
Chamber's Board Includes Hospitals and Insurers Who Support Anti-Smoking Measures (2015)
While the U.S. Chamber was working to block or undermine anti-smoking efforts, health insurers and hospitals held positions on its board of directors. According to The New York Times,
- The chamber’s global opposition to antismoking measures...poses a challenge for many of the members of the organization, particularly hospitals and health insurers. Four executives of leading health care organizations, including Mr. DeVeydt [executive vice president of Anthem], are members of the chamber’s board. The other three executives come from the Health Care Service Corporation, an insurer based in Chicago, the Steward Health Care System of Boston and the Indiana University Health system.
- "Smoking is one of the leading causes of death," Brooke Thurston, a spokeswoman for Steward, said in a statement, adding, "If the chamber is in fact advocating for increased smoking we do not agree with them on this public health issue."
- The other three companies declined to comment.
The Times noted that PR firm Burson-Marsteller, which previously represented multiple tobacco clients, opposed the Chamber's efforts:
- "It’s pretty obvious that you don’t want to be seen doing the bidding of an interest which is no longer legitimate," said David Earnshaw, president of the Brussels office of Burson-Marsteller, a company that long worked for the tobacco industry. He tried unsuccessfully to prevent a major affiliate of the chamber, based in Brussels, from issuing a position paper targeting a European proposal on plain packaging...
- An unpublished early version of the position paper, which was obtained by The Times, reveals that the rapporteur, or primary author, was Anne-Laure Covin, an executive of Philip Morris International, which is now separate from Philip Morris U.S.A. The company had no comment.
- Philip Morris was not the only company involved. The paper came from a committee at the chamber’s European Union branch run by a Time Warner executive, Vincent Jamois, whose name and corporate affiliation are on the draft version of the paper, right above Ms. Covin’s name.
CVS Leaves U.S. Chamber Over Tobacco Efforts (2015)
Shortly after the Times report on the Chamber's global tobacco lobbying efforts, the drugstore chain CVS announced that it was ending its membership. CVS had ended sales of tobacco products in its stores in 2014. The company released a statement saying, "We were surprised to read recent press reports concerning the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s position on tobacco products outside the United States... CVS Health’s purpose is to help people on their path to better health, and we fundamentally believe tobacco use is in direct conflict with this purpose."
Alleged Spying on Critics (2010-2011)
In 2010, Aaron Barr, CEO of the technology security company HBGary Federal, alleged that he could exploit social media to gather information about hackers like those who supported WikiLeaks. In early 2011, Barr claimed to have used his techniques to infiltrate the Wikileaks supporter Anonymous, partly by using IRC, Facebook, Twitter, and social networking sites. His e-mails depict his intention to release information on the identities of Anonymous members and to sell it to possible clients. </ref> In early February of 2011, the activist group Anonymous hacked the firm's website, copied tens of thousands of documents from HBGary, posted tens of thousands of company emails online, and usurped Barr's Twitter account.
According to some of HBGary's e-mails, the Chamber of Commerce hired the lobbying firm Hunton & Williams, and attorneys for the law firm then solicited a set of private security firms — HB Gary Federal, Palantir, and Berico Technologies (collectively called Team Themis) — to develop a sabotage campaign against progressive groups and labor unions, including the group ThinkProgress, the labor coalition Change to Win, the labor union SEIU, U.S. Chamber Watch, and StopTheChamber.com. Later emails revealed that the private spy company investigated the families and children of the Chamber’s political opponents. The apparent spearhead of this project was Aaron Barr, who circulated numerous emails and documents detailing information about political opponents’ children, spouses, and personal lives.
On February 10, 2011, the Chamber of Commerce issued a statement denying they hired HBGary, calling the allegation a "baseless smear", and blaming the Center for American Progress and its blog, ThinkProgress for "the illusion of a connection between HBGary, its CEO Aaron Barr and the Chamber."
Accusations of Tax Fraud and Money Laundering
In September, 2010, two national watchdog groups, U.S. Chamber Watch and StopTheChamber.com, filed complaints with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service asking the agency to investigate the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for criminal fraud and money laundering. The groups allege that the Chamber illegally funneled donations from a wealthy charitable foundation into its political battles. Chamber Watch said that $12 million of an $18 million donation that the wealthy Starr Foundation gave (pdf) gave to the National Chamber Foundation was in the form of loans that have never been repaid. Chamber Watch says the money was diverted to finance political causes, including tort reform, to shield companies like AIG from liability lawsuits. The Starr Foundation was founded by Cornelius Vander Starr, the insurance entrepreneur who also founded AIG. The Foundation's Chairman of the Board of Directors is Maurice R. Greenberg, former President and CEO of AIG. The Foundation's Director (and Treasurer) is Howard I. Smith, AIG's former Chief Financial Officer. StopTheChamber.com says it was contacted by a Chamber whistleblower who described (pdf) how Chamber CEO Tom Donohue is "scamming [business] clients to serve his own interests rather than the interests of the business community." The insider compared Donohue to Jack Abramoff and Bernie Madoff. He also alleged that Donohue does not fear the Federal Elections Commission or Congress, and has a plan set up to attack the U.S. Department of Justice if the agency ever tries to investigate him.
The September charge echoed similar charges made earlier in the year, in January, 2010, that six of the largest health insurance companies in the U.S. had been secretly funneling millions of dollars to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to oppose health reform. The total amount in this instance was estimated at between $10 million and $20 million. According to a report in the National Journal online, the money was used "to help underwrite tens of millions of dollars of television ads by two business coalitions set up and subsidized by the chamber."
2006 Public Citizen Complaint
On October 31, 2006, Public Citizen filed a complaint with the IRS asking it to investigate whether the Chamber and "its affiliated Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) failed to report millions in taxable spending from 2000 to 2004 intended to influence state-level attorney general and supreme court races and federal races around the country."
It also asked the IRS to investigate whether Chamber and the ILR, "which are two separate legal entities, combined funds in a shared bank account to hide accurate reporting of investment or interest income for tax avoidance. ... Court records, internal corporate documents and media reports indicate that the Chamber and the ILR engaged in a massive campaign to affect the outcome of state and federal races through direct expenditures and grants made to organizations that carried out the Chamber’s wishes."
Public Citizen reported that
- "In 2000, the Chamber claimed it spent $6 million on judicial races and took credit for winning 15 out of 17 state supreme court contests. In 2002, the Chamber said it planned to spend $40 million on political campaigns, divided equally between congressional and state-level attorneys general and judicial races. None of these activities were reported on their tax returns from 2000 to 2003.
- "In 2004, the first year since at least 2000 that the Chamber and the ILR reported political expenditures, both organizations appear to have underreported their spending. They reported a combined $18 million, but in a 'President's Update' memo released the day after the November elections, Chamber President Thomas Donohue claimed the group had spent up to $30 million in races around the country.
- "The Chamber and ILR also failed to report grants and allocations to outside groups as required by Line 22 of IRS Form 990. Both organizations reported no grants to outside groups from 2000 to 2004. But in a 2005 deposition, a Chamber official acknowledged that the Chamber had partnered with at least six outside groups to advance its agenda to avoid garnering unwanted critical attention. At least two 501(c) organizations, the Washington-based American Taxpayers Alliance and the Columbus-based Citizens for a Strong Ohio, reported receipt of contributions from the U.S. Chamber."
Affiliated Centers, Organizations, and Campaigns
As of August 2015:
- Campaign for Free Enterprise
- Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation
- Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness
- Center for Education and Workforce
- Center for International Private Enterprise
- Center for Women in Business
- Corporate Citizenship Center
- Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC) member
- Friends of the U.S. Chamber
- Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC), David Hirschmann, President and CEO
- Hiring Our Heroes
- Institute for 21st Century Energy
- Institute for Legal Reform
- Institute for Organizational Management (IOM)
- Let's Rebuild America
- U.S. Chamber Litigation Center
- Native American Enterprise Initiative
- Small Business Nation
- U.S. Chamber Foundation
- Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth
- Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC)
- Global Regulatory Cooperation Project
- Institute for a Competitive Workforce (ICW), Jan Magill, director of strategic partnerships
- Institute for Energy
- The Energy Initiative
- Particulate Matter Coalition
- Yucca Energy Solutions
As of July 2015:
- Thomas J. Donohue - President and CEO
- Shannon DiBari - Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President
- Ann Beauchesne - Senior Vice President, National Security & Emergency Preparedness Department
- Myron Brilliant - Executive Vice President and Head of International
- Lily Fu Claffee - Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, and General Counsel; Executive Vice President, U.S. Chamber Litigation Center
- Suzanne Clark - Executive Vice President
- Thomas Collamore - Senior Vice President, Communications and Strategy and Counselor to the President
- Rob Engstrom - Senior Vice President, Political Affairs & Federation Relations and National Political Director
- Amanda Engstrom Eversole - Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff; Senior Vice President, U.S. Chamber Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness; Acting President, Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation
- Karen Alderman Harbert - President and CEO, Institute for 21st Century Energy
- Stan Harrell - Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Information Officer
- David Hirschmann - Senior Vice President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; President & CEO, U.S. Chamber Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness; President and CEO, the Global Intellectual Property Center
- Jack Howard - Senior Vice President, Congressional and Public Affairs
- Randy Johnson - Senior Vice President, Labor, Immigration and Employee Benefits
- R. Bruce Josten - Executive Vice President, Government Affairs
- William Kovacs - Senior Vice President, Environment, Technology and Regulatory Affairs
- John G. Murphy - Senior Vice President for International Policy
- Marty Regalia - Senior Vice President and Chief Economist
- Lisa Rickard - President, U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, President, Workforce Freedom Initiative, Executive Vice President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- John Sullivan - Executive Director, Center for International Private Enterprise
- Agnes Warfield-Blanc - Senior Vice President, Development
Board of Directors
As of August 2015:
- Thomas J. Donohue, President and CEO
- Michael Ducker, Chairman of the Board of Directors
- John L. Hopkins, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors
- John W. Bachmann, Treasurer
For a full list of board members, see here.
United States Chamber of Commerce
1615 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20062-2000
Telephone: 202 659-6000
Fax: 202 463-5836
Older information from previous versions of this page.
The Chamber's TradeRoots website was billed as "the nation's leading sustained grassroots education program dedicated to raising public awareness of international trade on a local level."
The Trade Toolbox, a "resource to help in the trade export process, ... includes trade statistics, country and market reports, best market reports, frequently asked questions and trade contacts." The Toolbox was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
See an archived version of this website here.
Chamber Campaigns (2010-2011)
In June, 2011 the Chamber enlisted former White House Chief of Staff under President Bush Andrew Card, and Democratic former Indiana Senator Evan Bayh to put on a national "road show" to rally businesses to oppose government regulations. The road show is being handled by Chamber employee Thomas Collamore, who formerly was a vice president of Philip Morris Corporate Affairs, the department at PM that was responsible for thwarting national efforts to reduce tobacco use. The Chamber planned to formally announce the Bayh and Card road show on June 22, 2011, and then start flying the two around the country in a push to gather support for reducing regulations designed to protect the environment, consumers and workers. The Chamber plans to fight the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, push to minimize the power of the recently-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, block implementation of OSHA workplace safety and health programs, hamper employees' ability to join unions, and make other pro-business reforms. The Chamber has spent months soliciting millions of dollars in funding for this anti-regulatory effort from Wall Street financial firms, insurance and energy companies. 
Opposing National Health Care Reform (2009)
The U.S. Chamber sponsored the Campaign for Responsible Health Reform, a program launched in 2009 to convince people to preserve employer-sponsored health insurance and oppose a public insurance option in health care reform in the U.S. The Campaign aimed to convince people that a government-sponsored plan is "fiscally reckless," will "lead us down the road to total government control of our health," and that it will make those with private insurance pay even more.
The Campaign said that "a government-run plan that would have broad and unrivaled power to negotiate for low-cost services of doctors and other health care providers could put private insurers out of business."
The group's former website had a "Take Action" page that says "We can’t afford to let a government-run plan raise our taxes and create long waits for treatment." It urges people to write their Congress members to oppose "government-run health care."
Support for National Gas Tax (2007)
"After a Minneapolis bridge collapsed on Aug. 1, [2007,] killing 13 people, members of Congress have sought to increase the gas tax to fix 'structurally deficient' bridges and make other infrastructure repairs. ... The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, groups that don’t normally agree with tax increases, support a national gas tax increase to pay for infrastructure improvements."
General James Jones Head Chamber's Institute for Energy (2007)
"Jones will head the Institute for Energy, which is to present itself as a grassroots organization. The Chamber went a similar path with the creation of the Institute for Legal Reform." Jones will focus on global warming and seek "to 'unify energy stakeholders behind a common strategy' to produce affordable and secure supplies while protecting the environment," reported O'Dwyer's, quoting Chamber president Tom Donohue.
SCHIP Veto (2007)
The Chamber is among a number of organizations which supported President George W. Bush's October 2007 veto of the SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007) bill. Republicans and "some business groups" such as the Chamber contended SCHIP "should focus on poor children and the expansion [would be] a move towards government-run health care. They also worr[ied] identification rules in the Democratic SCHIP bill might allow illegal immigrants to obtain government coverage."
Lobbying Information (2004-2007)
Political Money Line highlighted in February 2005 that the Chamber and its Institute for Legal Reform reported combined spending of $53.38 million for lobbying the Executive and Legislative branches during 2004. According to the watchdog website, "This is the largest twelve-month amount reported spent by any group."
The Chamber reported spending $20,060,000 in the first six months of 2004 and $8,780,000 in the last six months of 2004. They paid forty-five lobbyists in the last six months of 2004 to lobby on thirty-two issue areas, including "Trade, Small Business, Labor, Healthcare, Defense, Appropriations, Tort Reform and other areas."
The Institute for Legal Reform reported spending $10,000,000 in the first six months of 2004 and $14,540,000 in the last six months. They had five lobbyists on the payroll for the last six months of 2004, working on the tort reform issue including "Class Action Fairness, Asbestos Injury Resolution, Legal Reform, and Lawsuit Abuse Reduction."
TheTrueCosts.org is a now defunct website sponsored by the Chamber. In conjunction with the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy (CACP), it produced the No Trade in Fakes Supply Chain Tool Kit, which provided "proven strategies" for companies "to use to protect their supply chains from counterfeiters and modern-day pirates."
The Chamber had a role in promoting President George W. Bush's plan to privatize Social Security.
National Chamber Foundation
"The revitalized National Chamber Foundation, the Chamber’s public policy think tank, is shaping the policy debate on cutting-edge business issues, with major new initiatives on intellectual property theft and counterfeiting, capital markets and accounting rules, and travel and tourism."
Articles and Resources
Related SourceWatch Articles
- Ayres McHenry & Associates (biased Chamber polling firm)
- Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth
- Alliance to Save Main Street Jobs
- Bush administration U.S. attorney firings controversy
- Business Roundtable
- Campaign for Responsible Health Reform
- Coalition for Economic Growth and American Jobs
- Employee Free Choice Act
- International Chamber of Commerce
- Particulate Matter Coalition
- The November Fund
- Transatlantic Policy Network
- Jay Van Andel - former chair (1979)
- Yucca Energy Solutions
- Craig L. Fuller - board member
- Stuart L. Levenick
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