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KENNINGTON: How A Few Global Elitists Are Ruining The Chamber Of Commerce

 After Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley picked a fight with the Republican Party with an unusual, week-of-election-day personal contribution to Virginia Democrat Abigail Spanberger, the group has come directly in the GOP’s crosshairs. Presumptive House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Majority Leader Steve Scalise are refusing to meet with the Chamber, with the former calling on it to replace its leadership. Scalise’s Chief of Staff has gone so far as to say the group can no longer even get a meeting with their office’s interns.

Before joining the Chamber, Bradley worked for decades as an indispensable conservative staffer on Capitol Hill for the likes of Tom Coburn, Roy Blunt, Eric Cantor, and Kevin McCarthy. However, once he joined the Chamber, he supported Spanberger — a Democrat in Cantor’s old House seat that Cantor and McCarthy both opposed — and began betraying the conservative cause, seemingly to curry favor with global business elites. After McCarthy announced that he would no longer take meetings from him or the rest of the Chamber, Bradley doubled down, sending a November 15 letter to Congress advocating that members allow Nancy Pelosi to lock in more massive spending increases before McCarthy takes the gavel in January.

This letter was likely thrown out by most of them, who are already aware Bradley and Chamber president Suzanne Clarke have transformed this group that legislators once actively sought counsel from into one that listens nearly exclusively to a handful of big business tycoons (the Mark Zuckerbergs, Tim Cooks, Larry Finks, and Jamie Dimons of the world) that run too-big- to-fail enterprises. This group’s new agenda is centered around promoting new government mandates and regulatory burdens — burdens that they can afford to comply with but most of the Chamber’s dues-paying members can’t. The Bradley-Clark Chamber supporting such initiatives may help these woke business leaders fit in at New York and San Francisco black-tie cocktail parties — it may even be helping Bradley audition for his next job — but it’s certainly not benefiting the Chamber’s dues-paying members or the group’s reputation on Capitol Hill.

While the examples of the Bradley-Clark Chamber’s institutional corruption are endless, its brazen environmental policy contradictions are perhaps the most glaring of the bunch.

Although the Chamber is now fighting Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Gary Gensler’s expansive Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) disclosures, which are advancing the far-left’s environmental agenda at the American energy industry and investors’ expense, the Chamber previously embraced both Gensler and the ESG movement. Last year, it endorsed Gensler under a belief that he would “enact policies that encourage economic growth,” while the year prior, the Chamber’s vice president urged retirement fund managers to take climate change into consideration because “climate change and carbon emissions impact long-term value.” Talk about hypocrisy.

The Chamber’s previous support of ESG has angered Republican members of Congress, who have already announced plans to investigate its duplicity in the next congressional session. Given that Gensler pledged support for the ESG movement in his March 2021 committee hearing, just days before receiving an endorsement from the Chamber, it should also infuriate the Chamber’s dues-paying members. Their Chamber dues payments are now going towards cleaning up an ESG mess that Bradley-Clark created using their money last year.

Which raises the question: what are their dues even getting them at this point?

Political opportunism hasn’t turned the Chamber into everyone’s friend; it’s turned them into no one’s friend. While Bradley and Clark’s attempt to curry favor with Nancy Pelosi’s House Democrats — who never have and never will trust the Chamber — yielded it no added influence, the group recently contributed to a Mitch McConnell-aligned super PAC and appears to believe it still has pull with Senate Republicans. However, heated calls of betrayal from the likes of Sens. John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Tom Cotton — coupled with McConnell’s deafening silence amidst this vast GOP disparagement — paint another picture. In fact, it appears that the quickest way to create a viable bipartisan legislative framework in Congress today is to work against the Chamber rather than alongside it.

Sens. John Cornyn and Chuck Schumer appear to be doing just this. This odd bedfellow coalition recently proposed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would prevent the federal government from purchasing microchips — a critical U.S. defense instrument — from companies tied to the Chinese Communist Party. Putting national security concerns before big business’ doesn’t appear to coincide with the new Chamber’s overarching mission, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the group is now leading a massive campaign opposing this effort. When the Chamber loses this fight, what every insider in Washington already knows will become blaring. Congress has already pulled back the Chamber’s Wizard of Oz-like curtain of deception, and the era of the woke elites in this group having influence over public policy is over.

McCarthy and Scalise declaring war on the Bradley-Clark Chamber may help in the short-term, but it’s not addressing the elephant in the room — the group continuing to push itself into irrelevance by holding itself captive to the whims of a handful of global business leaders.

For years, the Chamber helped promote, advance, and secure legislative victory on an array of consequential conservative causes. While the group’s influence is needed today more than ever, Bradley-Clark has completely squandered its esteem, decimating the group’s ability to curry favor with either side of Congress in a two-party system.

Here’s hoping that more individual state chambers, individual member companies, and the Chamber’s other donors rise up and say enough is enough. Only then may the group begin to think twice about its current trajectory and resume protecting U.S. businesses rather than harming them. 

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