Watchdog group launches campaign pressuring companies to leave Chamber of Commerce over voting rights

Watchdog group launches campaign pressuring companies to leave Chamber of Commerce over voting rights
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A watchdog group launched an advertising campaign on Wednesday to urge major corporations to end their membership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over lobbying against voting rights legislation.

The group, Accountable.US, noted that the Chamber lobbied against the For the People Act, which is the Democrats’ sweeping voting rights legislation that has passed the House and is stalled in the Senate.

The “Drop the Chamber” six-figure campaign starts this week with digital ads on Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and other sites, targeting employees of Microsoft, Target and Salesforce.

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Accountable.US, which will direct people to DropTheChamber.org, is targeting these companies first because they have spoken out publicly about voting rights issues. 

“These corporations are sitting on their hands in the face of a widespread assault on our democracy and ignoring the Chamber’s opposition to major legislation to protect an essential constitutional right. In doing so, they are violating their well-publicized commitment to protecting voting rights and siding against millions of Americans who will be subject to these racist voter suppression laws,” Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US, said in a statement.

The Chamber released a key vote letter opposing the For the People Act to the House in March and the Senate in April, arguing it could push certain voices that represent large segments of the electorate and the economy out of the political process. 

“American democracy benefits from the robust participation of its citizens – whether they choose to engage individually at the ballot box or collectively through a party, association, or corporation. Yet S. 1 would regulate and ultimately silence Americans who choose to petition their government or participate in the political process through the collective action of an association or corporation,” Jack Howard, Chamber senior vice president of government affairs, wrote in the letter to the Senate.

The pro-business lobbying group has responded to Accountable.US’s attacks over lobbying against the For the People Act, arguing that the group has distorted the Chamber’s position on the voting rights bill in Congress.

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“As a long-time defender of free speech, the Chamber has opposed bills like H.R.1/S.1, the disingenuously named the ‘For The People Act,’ that would limit fundamental First Amendment rights,” the Chamber said in a statement last month. 

Accountable.US is also sending letters to CEOs questioning their membership at the Chamber after they signed onto a two-page ad in The New York Times in April to oppose legislation introduced in various states to tighten voting restrictions. 

“While the Chamber likes to excuse its attacks on the fundamental right to vote under the guise of ‘free speech,’ there is no denying this effort is racially charged and designed to disenfranchise people of color, motivated by a cynical and misguided belief that it will benefit the business community. Their efforts should not be rewarded financially and reputationally by companies like yours who claim to hold different values,” Herrig wrote in the letters. 

Accountable.US last month urged eight major companies, including Disney, Google and Pfizer, to sever ties with the Chamber over its stance on donating to Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 Electoral College results.

Less than a week after the attack on the Capitol, Chamber of Commerce chief policy officer Neil Bradley said: “There are some members that by their actions will have forfeited the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Period, full stop.”

Following the statement from Bradley, the Chamber said last month it will not base decisions to support members of Congress solely on their votes.