For the last several years, it has become increasingly apparent that Republicans are no longer the party of big business. The Chamber of Commerce went so far as to make joint statements with the AFL-CIO in November 2020. Since the election, many of the Chamber’s members have relentlessly pursued environmental, social, and governmental (ESG) policies and pushed diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) workplace culture. Now it appears the Chamber is willing to assist far Left corporations and activist groups in building a veneer of bipartisanship by sponsoring events.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform was a Legacy Sponsor for the annual meeting of the Attorney General Alliance (AGA) in Sun Valley, Idaho. Other Legacy Sponsors included Amazon, CVS Health, JUUL, Pfizer, and the Home Depot. AGA represents the AGs in 45 states, including Texas, Florida, and other Republican-led states. The Chamber’s sponsorship level indicates it donated $50,000.
At least one far-left not-for-profit and nearly 200 of the most woke corporations, lobbying groups, and trade associations in the country also helped sponsor the meeting last month. The far-left not-for-profit, the Center for Secure and Modern Elections (CSME), was a platinum sponsor of the Idaho event. Arabella Advisors funds the CSME. Even the New YorkTimes acknowledges Arabella is one of the leading vehicles for dark money on the Left. Neal Ubriani and Sam Oliker Friedland from CSME were at the meeting. Friedland was on the Modernizing Government Practices panel along with elections directors from two states and other officials.
The CSME is also part of the Alliance for Election Excellence (the Alliance) which includes the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL). The CTCL received over $400 million from Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife in 2020 and used it to turn election offices in large cities in swing states into turn-out-the-Biden-vote machines. The CTCL accomplished this task through a series of grants with conditions.
All of the groups in the Alliance support policies such as voting from home, automatic registration, altered ballot designs, and providing “assistance” to local election offices to share “best practices.” In short, they would happily engage in concerted action to ensure Republicans are not elected to public office. Their only goal is to make elections hard to secure and ridiculously easy to vote in.
Unlike the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), AGA does not get most of its funds from memberships. According to Axios, the AGA collects money from corporations, trade associations, and lobbying firms. In return for those donations, the organizations get access to AGA meetings where they can meet the attorneys general and discuss significant policies and other issues. CMSE bought its way to an audience with every Republican AG who attended. The AGA represents every GOP AG in the country.
Retired Executive Director of NAAG Chris Toth said the AGA “seems to exist for no other reason than to provide access by such actors to attorneys general” in his June 2022 farewell letter. NAAG has come under fire from Republican attorneys general for taking a leftward drift and a lack of transparency in awarding grants. It is hard to see how the AGA is any less leftward leaning. Its list of critical initiatives includes smoothing the way for states to legalize cannabis and facilitating conversations between AGs and the private sector to explore social justice and equity issues.
Three AGs already withdrew their membership from NAAG but appear to remain in AGA. One of them, Attorney General Ken Paxton (R-Texas), moderated a panel at the AGA meeting in Sun Valley. Other Republican AGs who were scheduled to participate in panel discussions included Lawrence Wasden of Idaho; Lynn Fitch of Mississippi; Sean Reyes of Utah; Bridget Hill of Wyoming; Treg Taylor of Alaska; Todd Rokita of Indiana; Doug Peterson of Nebraska; and Jason Miyares of Virginia.
In essence, the participation of Republican AGs is helping distinctly left-wing corporations, trade associations, and not-for-profits claim bipartisan participation. According to Jason Snead, executive director of Honest Elections, “These organizations are engaged in what can charitably be called credibility laundering. They engage with bipartisan groups and promote ostensibly Republican allies. However, their fundraising and agendas are distinctly left-wing.”
The AGA insists they are a bipartisan organization. However, the only significant sponsors of the AGA event that were once considered right-leaning are the Chamber of Commerce and Koch Industries. The Trump era showed many on the right that these groups were in it for low taxes, inexpensive labor, and unrestricted trade. A Republican Party that embraces America First is not open to unfettered immigration or continuing to hollow out the middle of the country by handing our manufacturing sector, intellectual property, and farmland over to China.
Axios noted that sources say the AGA has developed a reputation in AG offices as a flashier organization, known to wine and dine state officials and their staffers. As Toth noted in his letter, “AGA is overwhelmingly dependent on corporate and lobbyist money for its activities. That means when you go on a delegation, some lobbyist or corporation is paying for that.” Republican AGs should avoid this kind of pay-to-play event since the potential for conflicts of interest is obvious. For example, AG Paxton filed a lawsuit against Meta in February of this year. Meta was a Premiere Sponsor of the AGA meeting.
Almost every attendee at the AGA meeting despises the Republican base and its values. Further, their executives donate to Democrats and left-wing organizations. When will Republicans learn not to provide these groups with bipartisan credibility?