Ashlee Rich Stephenson Ashlee Rich Stephenson
Senior Political Strategist, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


August 01, 2022


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural “Free Enterprise Forum,” held in July 2022, was the first of its kind event to bring together U.S. Chamber members, employees, subject matter experts, and a handful of carefully selected potential new members of Congress.

Together, the U.S. Chamber hosted a broad-based policy forum on key issues that will be critical for the 118th Congress to resolve, with a focus on economics, inflation, workforce, and immigration. With historic levels of retirements, this will be a large freshmen class and we wanted a new way to engage pro-business legislators before they might arrive in Washington.

For the U.S. Chamber, it is imperative the business community is engaged to support those who will come to Washington and work for pro-growth solutions to offset the growing number of members bending to extreme wings of their parties, which threaten to effectively grind Washington to a halt when our nation’s job creators and workforce are depending on an effective federal government to support the needs of the nation. 

The discussion among members from the U.S. Chamber's federation members (state chambers), corporate members, candidates, U.S. Chamber leadership and special guests in attendance included discussions about solutions to current economic and workforce conditions. 

Among the U.S. Chamber members, employees, and special policy experts in attendance, 15 candidates for the U.S. House from across the nation participated in the forum. The group had a robust discussion related to potential solutions to support job creators and workers at the federal level. Special event guests included Jerry Seib, former Washington Bureau Chief for The Wall Street Journal, and the group visited with retiring member, Representative Fred Upton (R-MI).

A snapshot of attendees included two new Members of Congress, as Rep. Mike Flood (R-NE-01) was sworn in on the day of the Free Enterprise Forum, and Rep. Brad Finstad (R-MN-01) won a special election, and was sworn in, a month after the event. Among the candidate attendees, 12 won their primaries to advance to the November general, including Jeremy Shaffer (PA-17), Lisa Scheller (PA-07), Esther Joy King (IL-17), Allan Fung (RI-02), Kevin Kiley (CA-03), and Matt Jacobs (CA-26). The candidates that win in November will come to the House ready to hit the ground running to defend Free Enterprise on behalf of the business community.

About the authors

Ashlee Rich Stephenson

Ashlee Rich Stephenson

Ashlee Rich Stephenson, is a senior political strategist and consultant for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Stephenson advises the Chamber’s political programming, which includes voter education and advocacy, candidate endorsements, and the U.S. Chamber PAC. She also helps develop and execute external issue advocacy campaigns to support the Chamber’s policy and legislative priorities.

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