Chamber Lobbyists Targeting Progressives

I wrote earlier this week about the tragicomic efforts of the law firm Hunton and Williams to solicit ideas from security contractors about how to take down Glenn Greenwald. Today, my colleagues have two pieces indicating that the very same law firm did similar work for the Chamber of Commerce. Specifically, they “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”

The sabotage concepts floated were multi-faceted, and included the idea of trying to deliberately leak misinformation in the hopes that Chamber critics would run with it and discredit themselves. But Aaron Barr, the HB Gary executive who spearheaded the initiative, also liked to circulate personal information about progressive staffers involved in Chamber-critical enterprises. My personal favorite is this email about Mike Gehrke, formerly of Change to Win, that thinks it’s important to detail which “Jewish church” he and his family attend:

I assume Barr would tell you he’s just doing his job. He has a duty to make as much money for HB Gary as possible, never mind the consequences. And folks at Hunton and Williams would tell you that they’re just doing their job. They have a duty to serve the interests of the Chamber of Commerce as zealously as possible. And folks at the US Chamber would tell you that they’re just doing their jobs. They have a duty to make US public policy as beneficial as possible to US Chamber of Commerce members, never mind the consequences. And executives at Chamber-member firms would tell you that they have a duty to maximize the profitability of their firms, never mind the consequences. So if you need to engage in a little public disinformation campaign or peer into people’s “Jewish church” activities, so be it. After all, it’s small potatoes compared to earning your daily bread by poisoning the environment.

But personally I’m old-fashioned and I think the concept of individual ethical responsibilities has traditionally served the country well.