View Full Version : White House pressured Chamber in dispute, sources say

12-06-2010, 12:46 PM
WASHINGTON —Since taking office nearly two years ago, President Obama has frequently clashed with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a major business group that has plowed millions of dollars into opposing his plans to overhaul the healthcare and impose new regulations on Wall Street.

Obama and his aides have criticized the group publicly. But the administration's campaign to neutralize the group went farther, according to new detail about the dispute.

Over the last year the White House has hosted meetings with business leaders to discuss policy, and in some of those sessions asked that they persuade the Chamber to cancel TV ads aimed at defeating Obama's healthcare plan, said a business lobbyist familiar with the matter.

Illustrating the depth of the dispute, the White House also asked corporate executives to drop their membership in the Chamber, the lobbyist said. Last fall, the Chamber received reports that the White House — including senior advisor Valerie Jarrett — had spoken to some executives about resigning from the Chamber, the business lobbyist said, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid becoming personally entangled in the conflict. A second source said there had been discussions at the Chamber regarding the White House urging resignations.

Through a spokeswoman, Jarrett said Thursday she did not ask any companies to leave the Chamber. The Chamber has not publicly accused the White House of urging resignations, nor has any company said publicly that it has been pressured to leave.

Defections from the Chamber carry the potential to damage the institution in two ways: Cutting off dues money and stirring up bad publicity.

Following the midterm elections there have been signs of a thaw. Obama is considering a speech to the group's members as early as next month and the Chamber is pledging not to push for his defeat in the 2012 election.

But relations were under intense strains last year. Several companies quit the Chamber during that time period, citing differences with the organization over the issue of climate change. They included electric utilities PNM and Exelon, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., and Apple. Nike remained in the fold but stepped down from the Chamber's board of directors.

Asked about the resignations at the time, Obama's Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, said: "I think it's wonderful.''

The White House would not make Jarrett available for an interview. White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage released a prepared statement instead:

"Decisions by individual companies over a year ago to end their membership with the Chamber of Commerce over climate change were made by the individual companies alone. The administration obviously spoke out publicly about our opposition to the funding of ads against the healthcare and the financial reform bills and we stand by that.''

Sounds like the Chicago way to me. Is there any law against an administration pressuring private businesses to quit an organization that has been critical of it? Or is it just sleazy, without being illegal?

12-06-2010, 01:00 PM
I wonder if the Repub House chairman's are going have the balls to require these radical leftist to testify before their committees when Jan 1 rolls around.

12-06-2010, 02:30 PM
But unions on the other hand..........

Yes, it's the Chicago way!