The Chamber of Commerce Gets Punk'd

The Chamber of Commerce stunned DC on Monday by calling a last-minute press conference to announce a dramatic about-face in its climate policy -- it would not only stop opposing the Kerry-Boxer climate bill but would work with them to make it better. But the whole thing turned out to be a hoax mounted by the Yes Men, a notorious band of anti-corporate pranksters.


Reporters received a press release early Monday stating that the Chamber would be "throwing its weight behind strong climate legislation" at an event at the National Press Club in downtown Washington, DC. But when I and others showed up, we were met by a fellow dressed in a suit looking like a typical corporate PR man. This wasn't Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue. And I recognized him as Yes Man Andy Bichlbaum. (I've written about the group previously.) He soon was telling reporters, "We at the Chamber have tried to keep climate science from interfering with business. But without a stable climate, there will be no business."

The Yes Men posted text of the fake speech on a fake website that closely mirrors the actual Chamber site. There were a couple of tell-tale signs that there might be some funny business going on: The speech was to come from "Tom Donahue," while the actual CEO of the Chamber is named "Tom Donohue." And as TPM pointed out, the press release announcing the event was issued by one Erica Avidus, whose last name is Latin for "greedy."

As one might expect, the real Chamber was none too pleased. Eric Wohlschlegel, spokesman for the U.S. Chamber, showed up and protested loudly during the event. "This is fraudulent!" he yelled. Later he could be heard asking a Press Club employee how they could host this kind of stunt. "How could someone call and represent the Chamber in this way?" he asked. "We do a lot of events here. We're very supportive of the Press Club."

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