Chamber of Commerce goes from 3 million members to just 300,000 in one day.

As Mother Jones reported yesterday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce consistently says that its membership is 3 million, even though it’s actually closer to 200,000. The reason for the artificial inflation is that the organization is counting the memberships of 2,800 state and local chambers around the country, even though many of these businesses have no relationship with the national organization. Some of these members are now protesting the Chamber’s numbers game:

“They don’t represent me,” says Mark Jaffe, CEO of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, which is a dues-paying member of the national group. … Jaffe also scoffed at the US Chamber’s oft-repeated claim to “represent 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions.” … “They are playing games” with their numbers, Jaffe said. “They don’t have half the businesses in America as registered, dues-paying members.”

— Jaffe’s objections to the US Chamber’s policies were echoed by Rob Black, vice-president of public policy for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. “We take a fundamentally different approach than the US Chamber,” he said, adding that while the national Chamber opposes the Waxman-Markey climate bill, “we support a market-driven cap-and-trade system.”

A day after this public scrutiny began, the Chamber is quietly backing down. At a press conference this morning, Chamber officials “repeatedly cited a membership of 300,000. That’s a tenth as many members as the Chamber claimed a day earlier.”