The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was actively involved in Washington state elections this year. Spending nearly $150,000 to help defeat Rep. Denny Heck (D), the Chamber was the second-highest contributor to the race outside the national party groups. It also spent several hundred thousand more dollars to defeat Sen. Patty Murray (D), though it appears Murray will win re-election.
Responding to the U.S. Chamber’s right-wing political activities, the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce issued a statement yesterday making it clear that it does not want to be associated with the national Chamber:
It has come to our attention that the large number of political ads being run in our area by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has caused some confusion regarding the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce.
The Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber are separate and distinct organizations.
The Greater Seattle Chamber is an independent, membership-driven association solely governed by our local board of trustees. Under their direction, we focus on issues at the local, regional and state levels.
Your Greater Seattle Chamber has a long history of non-partisanship. There is no connection between the political ads being run by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (or any other out-of-state entity for that matter) and your local Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce.
This isn’t the first time the U.S. Chamber has drawn the ire of local Chambers in that state. As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer notes, in 2004, the U.S. Chamber began blindly running boilerplate ads accusing Democrat Don Barbieri, who was running for a seat in the House of Representatives, of being “anti-business.” The problem was that Barbieri was the long-time CEO of West Coast Hotels, and was the immediate past president of the Greater Spokane Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber’s aggressive, hyper-partisan campaign to defeat Democrats in this year’s elections has also run afoul of local Chambers elsewhere in the country, as ThinkProgress has noted. The Chamber of Commerce in Charlottesville, VA refused to endorse ads being run against Rep. Tom Perriello (D), who lost his race on Tuesday. The Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce in Connecticut is currently in discussions about whether to break from the U.S. Chamber over disagreements about the national Chamber’s involvement in politics, while the Greater Hudson Chamber of Commerce in New Hampshire left the U.S. Chamber last month. “As far as I’m concerned, I could not find one positive thing to say about being involved in the U.S. Chamber,” said the Greater Hudson’s executive vice president.