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The US Chamber of Commerce, which describes itself as “the world’s largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region,” but which actually represents the interests of rich oil companies, rich pharmaceutical companies, automakers, and other (rich) polluting industries, spent $57.9 million in 2008 alone on lobbying in Washington—by far the most of any organization.

Recently the Chamber has been getting all hot and bothered about the Obama administration’s policies on health care and financial reform. Its new strategy? Sue the pants off of the federal government to keep any and all legislation big business doesn’t approve of from going through.

Thomas Donohue, the chamber’s president and chief executive, said on Thursday…[the Chamber] is beefing up its staff so it can fight health care and financial regulation reform in court.

"Litigation is one of our most powerful tools for making sure that federal agencies follow the law and are held accountable," Donohue said in remarks prepared to be delivered in Des Moines, Iowa.

The group on Thursday unveiled a new publicity drive with a strong anti-regulation theme, which is designed to complement its legal fight to blunt regulation.

A chamber official said that the organization would soon announce that it was hiring someone with a "substantial legal background" to play a big role in their regulatory efforts. –Reuters

So litigation is one of its most powerful tools. And yet, the US Chamber of Commerce runs an affiliate group called the Institute for Legal Reform, whose main purpose is to help reduce the number of “frivolous lawsuits” that are, it argues, clogging up our legal system. While the ILR ostensibly does this in the name of the small business owner who’s paralyzed daily by the threat of unwarranted lawsuits, its real agenda is to institute tort reform so powerful that big businesses can no longer be held accountable for the harms their dangerous and defective products and unfair business practices cause the American people.

As one IRL mass email put it:

End frivolous litigation — and you remove a major barrier to American prosperity.

Join the Fight for Lawsuit Reform.

With your support, we will bring an end to lawsuit abuse, reform America’s broken legal climate and empower American employers to start creating jobs and economic prosperity.

How is it, Chamber, that when monster corporations are asked to take responsibility for their actions, lawsuits against them are frivolous, but when the current administration’s not in your back pocket, lawsuits against it are the only way to save the country?


  1. Camryn: These hypocrites go even further than that, creating local "Citizens against" groups that are not citizen groups at all; they are the Chamber, masquerading as "citizens". There are hundreds of these so-called "against lawsuit" groups who have, themselves, filed frivolous lawsuits in the corporate arena. And, of course, they and their ilk wastes millions of dollars in legal time instructing defense lawyers to file frivolous defenses so that they can delay the legal process and hold onto money that righfully belongs to victims. Keep writing and exposing these hypocritical bastards. Great post!

  2. Gravatar for John Hopkins

    Good post. Not only are they hypocritical, they distort the truth beyond recognition. This is a group who pitches themselves as a consumer group when it is convenient and the truth is they could not be more anti-consumer. Any informed person is going to look with careful scrutiny toward any recommendation or information from the US or state Chamber of Commerce.

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