Melanie Collins, a small business leader with the Maine Small Business Coalition, traveled to Washington, DC on October 19 to speak at a press conference outside the headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce challenging the Chamber's secret spending in the 2012 elections. Marking the U.S. Chamber's 100th birthday, Collins joined with organizations representing people across the country to deliver a simple message: The U.S. Chamber doesn't represent small business.
"Secrecy is at the heart of the Chamber's sales pitch," said Collins. "When I want to make my voice heard, I stand up and speak. I use my name. I think the Chamber's big donors should, too."
Collins added, "The most offensive part of all this special interest political spending is that they do it under the name of the small business owner. I call that small business identity theft. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn't speak for small businesses, and they don't speak for me."
The U.S. Chamber has already spent more than $1.3 on outside spending funding political advertisements in Maine's Senate race. Although many local chambers of commerce in Maine distanced themselves from the U.S. Chamber's initial ad buys, the Chamber continues to attack candidates for U.S. Senate in Maine under the guise of speaking for Maine small businesses. A week ago, the Chamber bought another $500,000 in ad time.
"When outside groups and big corporations like Anthem spend money to try to buy elections in Maine, small business owners from all across the state lose out," said Collins.