Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chamber of Fossils

At Last, Have They No Shame?

US Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom DonahueMr. Burns from the Simpsons
The US Chamber of Commerce is politically corrupt, morally reprehensible and quite possibly a racketeering organization that warrants investigation by the US Department of Justice and/or the US Congress. It's not enough that they serve as the central laundry for anonymous and unaccountable campaign expenditures which buy distort elections. Nor is it enough that they are obnoxious and mendacious shills for big fossil fuel interests. Apparently they are also so thin-skinned and intellectually vacuous that they are spending their corporate benefactors' slush funds to try to dig dirt on the families of their political opponents. They're even targeting their children. They even think it might be OK to "exploit" vulnerabilities in—illegally hack into—computers owned by their spouses.

ThinkProgress has learned that a law firm representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the big business trade association representing ExxonMobil, AIG, and other major international corporations, is working with [a] set of “private security” companies and lobbying firms to undermine their political opponents, including ThinkProgress, with a surreptitious sabotage campaign.

According to e-mails obtained by ThinkProgress, the Chamber hired the lobbying firm Hunton and Williams. Hunton And Williams’ attorney Richard Wyatt, who once represented Food Lion in its infamous lawsuit against ABC News, was hired by the Chamber in October of last year. To assist the Chamber, Wyatt and his associates, John Woods and Bob Quackenboss, solicited a set of private security firms — HBGary Federal, Palantir, and Berico Technologies (collectively called Team Themis) — to develop tactics for damaging progressive groups and labor unions, in particular ThinkProgress, the labor coalition called Change to Win, the SEIU, US Chamber Watch, and

According to one document prepared by Team Themis, the campaign included an entrapment project. The proposal called for first creating a “false document, perhaps highlighting periodical financial information,” to give to a progressive group opposing the Chamber, and then to subsequently expose the document as a fake to undermine the credibility of the Chamber’s opponents. In addition, the group proposed creating a “fake insider persona” to “generate communications” with Change to Win.
Imagine the uproar if some group advocating for a position on the left tried to do something like this. The Congressional witch hunt would be launched the same day, and the wingnut wurlitzer (Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, the right wing "think tanks") would take up the tune for weeks.

Actually, we don't need to imagine. Look at the reaction to Wikileaks. Or Swifthack (the so-called "Climategate".) Or ACORN. None of them were even alleged to have done anything remotely this ethically reprehensible.

It is long past time for responsible corporate chieftans to publically state that their lobbying emperor has no clothes. The US Chamber is a rogue organization that is outside the norms, values and laws of a democratic country. To support it after this latest and most egregious behavior is to explicitly embrace the most parochial and destructive form of self-interest at the expense of our laws, our values and the good of our country and its people.

It is time for the Chamber to be exposed for the villainous, vicious and venal parasite that it is.


  1. When I was young I'd ask my Dad how some folks slept at night.

    "Very soundly," he replied, "on soft pillows stuffed with down and dollar bills."

  2. LOL; thanks Stan!

    Some folks still sleep soundly thus I believe, although they are fewer these days, and probably use hundred dollar bills.