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An Open Letter to the NJ Chamber of Commerce

Michael Engenton (3rd from left, speaking) NJ Chamber of Commerce, testifies to Assembly Committee

Michael Engenton (3rd from left, speaking) NJ Chamber of Commerce, testifies to Assembly Committee

[Update: 2/17/11 – I’ve heard nothing from the NJ Chamber, but the US Chamber has issued non-denial denials – read the complete story by Glenn Greenwald: More facts emerge about the leaked smear campaigns]

Dear Thomas A. Bracken, President and CEO, NJ Chamber of Commerce:

For the most part, I do not agree with the public policies advocated by the NJ Chamber of Commerce, and at times, have used harsh rhetoric to illustrate those disagreements.

However, as I’m sure you agree, there are lines that may not be crossed in pursuit of advancing a policy agenda.

In that I regard, I am shocked to learn,  by recent disclosures, that the US Chamber of Commerce has blatently crossed those lines.

Given the egregious nature of the US Chamber’s behavior, I call on you to immediately publicly repudiate those disgusting tactics and apologize to the people of NJ for the behavior of your sister national organization.

Specifically, the US Chamber of Commerce hired:

“private security” companies and lobbying firms to undermine their political opponents, including ThinkProgress. According to e-mails obtained by ThinkProgress, the Chamber hired the lobbying firm Hunton and Williams. Attorneys for the firm solicited a set of private security firms — HBGary Federal, Palantir, and Berico Technologies (collectively called Team Themis) ” to develop a sabotage campaign against progressive groups and labor unions, including ThinkProgress, the labor coalition Change to Win, SEIU, US Chamber Watch, and StopTheChamber.com.

New emails reveal that the private spy company investigated the families and children of the Chamber’s political opponents. The apparent spearhead of this project was Aaron Barr, an executive at HBGary. Barr circulated numerous emails and documents detailing information about political opponents’ children, spouses, and personal lives.

The Chamber’s campaign 

“seemed to be particularly concerned with internet activity and targeted the families of labor activists and bloggers — the dossiers include pictures of the kids and tracking of people’s wives’ private activities”

I look forward to reading a public statement along these lines tomorrow.


Bill Wolfe

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