Key officers go away U.S. Chamber of Commerce amid GOP criticism
Several key officials have left the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as the country’s largest lobby group shifts priorities and changes leadership during President Joe Biden’s tenure.
At least four of the group’s key executives have left in the past few months.
The former chamber managers who recently departed declined to comment or returned requests for comments to CNBC.
A Chamber Speaker would not comment on why the leaders mentioned in this story chose to leave.
“Although the chamber does not comment on specific employees, we are proud of our talented employees, our record sales and recent new hires,” said the spokesman. “Our people are critical to serving our members and to our mission to create jobs and fuel economic growth.”
He noted that the group recently hired former House MP Tom Wickham as senior vice president of state and local politics. Kasper Zeuthen, who, as Vice President, oversaw communications strategy for trade and other policy issues at the European Union Delegation to the United States; and Denise Osei from Marketing Outfit Destination DC as the group’s social media strategist.
However, the timing of the departures coincides with mounting criticism of the House from Republicans as it supports more Democratic lawmakers.
The changes also come when the new CEO, Suzanne Clark, takes over Tom Donohue, who has led the organization since the late 1990s. The Chamber also recently lost Charles Schwab as one of its corporate members.
Caroline Harris, a senior tax lobbyist for the chamber, left the group this month, according to her LinkedIn page. She had been in the chamber for over a decade, according to her side.
One person with direct knowledge of the matter who refused to be named to speak freely told CNBC that Harris is joining Capitol Tax Partners, a lobbying shop focused on tax legislation. The company touts that it has worked on every tax bill that has become law in the past 30 years, including former President Donald Trump’s tax reform bill.
According to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, the company received nearly $ 12 million in 2020 for lobbying clients like Apple, FedEx, Amazon, Citadel, Goldman Sachs, and the American Investment Council.
The managing partner of Capitol Tax Partners did not respond to requests for comment.
Another new run is Christina Atchley Lotspike. She was a senior lobbyist focusing on technology and transportation infrastructure, which is central to the Biden administration. The president seeks corporate tax hikes to fund his $ 2 trillion infrastructure proposal.
Atchley’s LinkedIn page said she left the Chamber this month after being with the group for over seven years. Atchley is now a lobbyist for the grocery shopping app Instacart.
According to his LinkedIn page, Rob Schroder left the chamber in early 2021. He was senior vice president for international affairs. He was also in the chamber for over seven years, according to his LinkedIn page.
Stan Harrell, who had been the Chamber’s Chief Financial Officer, no longer holds that title, according to the group’s website. Instead, he is listed as a former senior vice president and CFO.
The most recent tax form for 990 for the group’s formation, dating from 2019, lists Harrell as its CFO. The form shows that Harrell signed and dated the 990 document as CFO in November 2020. His LinkedIn page says he’s been in the chamber for over 20 years. The chamber spokesman did not say who should be her next CFO.
These steps mark the last exits from the Chamber of Commerce.
Scott Reed, a former senior political strategist for the Chamber, told CNBC last year that he had resigned over “the Chamber’s left-wing movement and constant Trump bashing.” The group claimed they fired Reed.
The departures also come when companies are pushed back by GOP leaders for speaking out against Georgia’s new electoral law and similar measures in other states. Critics said these laws would restrict minority electoral access.
While some members of the Chamber spoke out loudly against these laws, the organization has spoken out more directly against the democratically-backed For the People Act, which aims to improve access to voting.
The group’s letter against the bill shows that it is against most of the voting bills being debated nationwide.
“The Chamber is deeply concerned about efforts at state and federal levels to make changes to electoral law on a party-political basis,” it said.