Former Iowa Gov. Branstad launches pro-business advocacy group

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Former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) on Monday launched a pro-business advocacy group focused on open markets and limited government. 

The American Free Enterprise Chamber of Commerce will push for lower taxes and fewer regulations on businesses and aim to hold China accountable for unfair trade practices, said Branstad, who served as U.S. ambassador to China under former President Trump.   

The organization, headquartered in Iowa, will look to compete with existing Washington-based business lobbying groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that have fallen out of favor with some prominent GOP lawmakers. 

“America’s business owners and entrepreneurs are the backbone of this nation, and for too long their voices have not been well-represented in Washington,” Branstad said in a statement. “Our goal is to ensure that the interests of American businesses remain a top priority for our nation’s leaders while fighting for equal economic opportunity for every American.”

Branstad served as Iowa governor for more than 22 years, making him the longest tenured governor in U.S. history. A longtime friend of China’s Xi Jinping, he served as U.S. ambassador to China from 2017 to 2020 amid a trade war and escalating tensions between the two nations.  

Gentry Collins, former Republican National Committee political director and executive director of the Iowa Republican Party, will serve as the group’s CEO. Somsak Chivavibul, former chief financial officer at student loan provider Navient, will chair the group’s governance and accountability committee.

The American Free Enterprise Chamber of Commerce is currently funded by small donors and will extract annual dues from member businesses. 

“For years now, the values and beliefs of American entrepreneurs and business owners across the country have not been made a priority,” Collins said. “We’re focused on fixing that and ensuring that the American businesses who believe in free markets and limited government have their voice back.”

Tags Business chamber of commerce Gentry Collins Iowa lobbying Terry Branstad

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