Obama boosts Chamber donations

by Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen
Politico.com
10/26/09

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue says a campaign by the White House and its allies to undermine his $200-million-a-year association has largely failed — and actually has helped raise even more money for its pro-business efforts.

In a 75-minute interview with POLITICO, Donohue dismissed recent defections by Apple and at least four other companies, which quit over the Chamber’s opposition to Democratic climate change legislation — as essentially meaningless. “Members come and go all the damn time,” he said.

That’s true. But rarely — if ever — have companies jumped ship in such a public way.

Donohue made plain he believes the White House, or at least its closest allies operating on the outside, are behind a very orchestrated campaign to embarrass and undermine the Chamber…

POLITICO reported last week the White House wants to neuter the Chamber after clashes over health care, energy and financial regulation. Obama aides have been dealing directly with corporations and their CEOs rather than going through the Chamber, which has the slogan “Fighting for Your Business.”

Senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett has made clear to reporters that the West Wing is displeased with the Chamber. But pressed on Jarrett’s comments, Donohue said: “Look, I am not getting in a fight with those guys.” He did, however, go out of his way to highlight a speech on the Senate floor by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who warned Obama against brandishing a Nixon-style “enemies list.”

“I thought it was a good piece of advice,” Donohue added. …

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