Small Business Owners Call on U.S. Chamber to Reveal Funders of Ads Attacking Financial Reform

For Immediate Release:
March 17, 2010

Small business owners available for comment

Washington, DC – Immediately after Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd released his long awaited financial reform package on Monday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced a multi-million dollar ad campaign aimed at gutting the legislation of one of its core components, the creation of a consumer financial protection agency.  Small business owners from the Main Street Alliance network responded today by stating their support for a strong, independent consumer agency and questioning the backing for the Chamber’s new ads.

“While we applaud Chairman Dodd’s leadership on this important issue, we believe the independence of a consumer protection agency is critical to ensure that it can do the job of protecting small businesses and other consumers from deceptive and abusive lending practices,” said Nancie Koeber owner of Champions Realtime Training in Central Point, OR.  Small businesses have been particularly hard hit by the recession as their customer base has dwindled and access to credit has dried up.  “Our business no longer participates in the Chamber of Commerce due to their continued lack of support for small business needs on a number of issues, including financial reform.  Small businesses deserve to know who’s funding these ads and what role the big banks are playing.”

The U.S. Chamber came under scrutiny in January for running ads attacking health reform in the name of the business community with covert funding of between $10 million and $20 million from the health insurance industry.  Last week, a Chamber spokesman admitted that a new volley of ads attacking health reform also has financial backing from health insurers.

The disconnect between the Chamber’s opposition to financial reform and the support of everyday small business owners raises the question of what role Wall Street have played in funding the Chamber’s new anti-financial reform ads, or funding the Chamber in general.  Tax records from 2008 show that 19 companies or individuals contributed between $1 million and $15.3 million to the Chamber, providing a third of its total revenue that year.

“The Chamber of Commerce is lobbying against financial reform, and is against a strong consumer financial protection agency, because the Chamber represents those big businesses that have profited by lack of oversight and regulation,” said Jeanne Boisineau, owner of JB Casting in Richmond, Virginia. “Numbering over 24 million, small businesses are the financial backbone of this country, and we deserve access to credit on fair terms so that we can continue to grow and re-create the much needed jobs lost in the past few years.”

In January, the Main Street Alliance released a survey of over 1,200 business owners in 13 states where more than two thirds of business owners surveyed (67 percent) supported creation of a consumer financial protection agency.