Apr 27, 2021 - 2:30pm

Partisan Group Distorts Chamber Position on Election Law Changes

CNN recently ran a story on how a group named Accountable.US is pressuring companies to “dump the Chamber” because of the Chamber’s opposition to an election bill in Congress. Let’s set the record straight.

Who is Accountable.US?

Accountable.US claims it is a “non-partisan government watchdog.” But even a cursory look at the organization’s board and senior leadership reveals a barely disguised political front group. 

Accountable.US has a five-member board. Three of them previously served in senior roles at either the Democratic National Committee or the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. This includes the former president of American Bridge 21st Century, which bills itself as “"the largest research, video tracking, and rapid response organization in Democratic and progressive politics.” The other two board members previously served in senior appointed positions in the Obama administration. 

Accountable.US’ senior staff is as equally political. Two worked for the Obama administration, one worked on Sec. Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential campaign, and one worked for American Bridge 21st Century. Its senior advisor is a long-time Democratic operative who started his career working for political consultant James Carville.

CNN calling Accountable.US a “watchdog” is grossly misleading. This is an organization loaded with political operatives with extensive experience in politically motivated activism. 

Accountable.US blatantly distorts the Chamber’s position. As a long-time defender of free speech, the Chamber has opposed bills like H.R.1/S.1, the disingenuously named the “For The People Act,” that would limit fundamental First Amendment rights. In a letter to Senators earlier this month, we explained:

American democracy benefits from the robust participation of its citizens – whether they choose to engage individually at the ballot box or collectively through a party, association, or corporation. Yet S.1 would regulate and ultimately silence Americans who choose to petition their government or participate in the political process through the collective action of an association or corporation. Just as using the power of government to silence the press is antithetical to the Constitution and fundamental rights, so are the restrictions proposed in S.1.

But we are not the only ones.  Check out what the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had to say about the bill:

We continue to have significant constitutional concerns with the bill, particularly the ways it would restrict nonprofit organizations’ advocacy about issues of national importance, such as immigration, racist police violence, voting rights, and reproductive freedom when that advocacy merely mentions candidates for federal office.

On voting accessibility, the Chamber letter states, “The Chamber believes the ability of Americans to exercise their right to vote in accessible and secure elections and to be able to trust in a free and fair outcome is fundamental to who we are as a nation.”

However, bipartisan deliberation is sorely needed when considering changes to how elections are run:

The Chamber is deeply troubled by efforts at the state and federal level to enact election law changes on a partisan basis. Changes enacted on a partisan basis are the most likely to erode access and security and undermine public confidence and the willingness of the American people to trust and accept future election outcomes.

Bottom line: It is crucial to democracy to bring more people into the political process. But limiting free speech rights through partisan legislation would silence the voices of large segments of the country. Our elected leaders, Democrat and Republican, need to find common ground when making changes to election laws. 

The Chamber calls for the creation of a national commission to examine the facts and make recommendations for improving our election system. It would be composed of former elected officials and leading citizens and be similar to the 2004 Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform. Consensus, not division, is what we need.

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