The Chamber of Commerce regularly brags that it has more than 3 million members. But as Mother Jones reports today, its actual number is closer to 200,000. The 2.7 million jump occurred in February 1997, right around the time current president Tom Donohue came in. Basically, what the Chamber is doing is counting the memberships of 2,800 state and local chambers around the country. Mother Jones explains how misleading this tactic is:
Apparently, the Chamber’s claim to “represent” the 3 million individual members of local chambers is solely based on the fact that those local chambers are members of the national group—even though many of those chambers’ individual members do not have a direct relationship with the national body. To get an idea of the tenuousness of this connection, consider the American Highway Users Alliance. Like the Chamber, the AHUA has worked to undermine climate legislation, and counts the American Automobile Association as a member, which itself has 51 million members. The AHUA has never pretended to speak for those 51 million drivers.