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Fox Hunting: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Invading Privacy of Opposition

February 15, 2011

I am sure I am on some conservative-wonks list, or worse these guys: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The name is such a misnomer as they dress themselves up as patriots “fighting for your business.” Actually, they are a powerful lobbying group hell bent against regulation, progressives, environmentalists, and the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform bill that protects everyday Americans from exploitation from businesses. They support the mega-corporations and promote a right-wing agenda: anti-environment, anti-healthcare, anti-union, smaller government, less regulation, and less taxes.

I read an article last week on Climate Progress on how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was using “private security contractors to investigate the Chamber’s political opponents [including their families and children]. ” Now, what would be the reason for such a bold move? Hmmm, perhaps it’s because they actually are foxes in our hen house of government. In my opinion, they have crossed the line.

And why was Climate Progress interested in this turn of events?

“According to e-mails obtained by ThinkProgress, the Chamber hired the lobbying firm Hunton and Williams. Attorneys for the firm 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 ThinkProgress, the labor coalition Change to Win, SEIU, US Chamber Watch, and StopTheChamber.com.”

Think Progress reports today:

The law firm, Hunton & Williams LLP, represents the Chamber against campaigns by unions and political activists. In 2009, the Chamber paid Hunton & Williams $1,147,644 for its services. The law firm has represented subprime mortgagers, global warming polluters, and tobacco giant Phillip Morris.

Brad Johnson has the story of how three Hunton & Williams partners engaged the services of Palantir, Berico Technologies, and HBGary Federal to perform the invasions of privacy the Chamber itself now describes as “abhorrent“:

– Richard L. Wyatt Jr., co-head of the firm’s Litigation Group, who is suing the Yes Men on behalf of the Chamber. Wyatt negotiated with the spy firms on pricing and told them he would sell the project to the Chamber.

– Robert T. Quackenboss, a lawyer who handles “the tactical and public communications response to union-coordinated attack campaigns.” In this effort, Quackenboss was the “key client contact operationally” with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

– John W. Woods, an expert on “electronic surveillance” and “corporate crimes.” Woods was the “primary point of contact” with the corporate spy contractors.

Where Does their Money Comes From?

NY Times reported October 21, 2010

Prudential Financial sent in a $2 million donation last year as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce kicked off a national advertising campaign to weaken the historic rewrite of the nation’s financial regulations.

Dow Chemical delivered $1.7 million to the chamber last year as the group took a leading role in aggressively fighting proposed rules that would impose tighter security requirements on chemical facilities.

And Goldman Sachs, Chevron Texaco, and Aegon, a multinational insurance company based in the Netherlands, donated more than $8 million in recent years to a chamber foundation that has been critical of growing federal regulation and spending. These large donations — none of which were publicly disclosed by the chamber, a tax-exempt group that keeps its donors secret, as it is allowed by law — offer a glimpse of the chamber’s money-raising efforts, which it has ramped up recently in an orchestrated campaign to become one of the most well-financed critics of the Obama administration and an influential player in this fall’s Congressional elections.

The chamber’s increasingly aggressive role — including record spending in the midterm elections that supports Republicans more than 90 percent of the time — has made it a target of critics, including a few local chamber affiliates who fear it has become too partisan and hard-nosed in its fund-raising.

But others praise its leading role against Democrat-backed initiatives, like health care, financial regulation and climate change, which they argue will hurt American businesses. The Obama administration’s “antibusiness rhetoric” has infuriated executives, making them open to the chamber’s efforts, said John Motley, a former lobbyist for the National Federation of Independent Business, a rival.

Read the entire NY Times article, click here

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