Last month, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce submitted a rulemaking petition to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requesting that the agency limit potential plaintiffs’ ability to participate in COVID-19-related class action securities lawsuits. Such a move would prevent investors from suing a company if company leaders made statements about the company’s financial situation or COVID recovery plan that had an adverse effect on their stock. Such a limitation on investors’ rights would make it difficult to hold companies accountable for making false or misleading statements that led to an investor’s economic loss. The Chamber’s request is just seeking to limit everyday people’s ability to hold corporate actors accountable for wrongdoing, and Public Citizen will fight back to urge the SEC to deny the Chamber’s request.
This latest request by the Chamber shows how the trade association for the country’s largest corporate interests is once again on the wrong side of the policy debate. The Chamber, for example, has spent nearly all of this year lobbying Congress and state legislatures for corporate immunity from coronavirus-related lawsuits even though the data show that these lawsuits are not common, and would make consumers, patients, and workers less safe. The Chamber’s insistence on corporate immunity has exacerbated Americans’ suffering because that helped stall coronavirus stimulus from being passed since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he would not agree to any stimulus package that did not include a corporate immunity provision.
Even after more than 260,000 individuals have died from COVID-19—with the death toll expected to continue to rise this winter—the Chamber is still advocating for policies that place corporate interests above the needs of everyday people. The Chamber continues to take this misguided position even though giving companies corporate immunity is hugely unpopular with the public.
While the Chamber continues to lobby for disastrous policies that limit access to the justice system for individuals wronged by corporate greed, it is also seeking to rebrand itself as a kinder and gentler Chamber.
For example, the Chamber is pushing new “climate messaging” that it “stand[s] with every American seeking a cleaner, stronger environment—for today and tomorrow.” But, just a cursory look into its recent actions reveal the statement to be emptier than your nearest Blockbuster. A recent report released by Change the Chamber, a student led climate campaign that has joined Chamber Watch in fighting against the Chamber of Commerce’s disastrous advocacy, outlines the Chamber’s hypocrisy in detail. Dating back to last year, the Chamber has not only continued to be an active participant in energy lawsuits across the nation by filing numerous amicus briefs strongly advocating for fossil fuel interests (with multiple amicus briefs supporting the petrochemical industry and industrial polluters as well), but it also successfully lobbied for the nomination of multiple fossil fuel connected officials to fill positions within the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and Department of Energy. Maybe someone should tell the Chamber that pretending to stand with every American means reading a poll every now and then?
As we enter into a new Administration, Chamber Watch and Public Citizen will continue to work to expose the threat that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce continues to pose to our democracy, environment, and workers across the country.
We’ve never been a fan of disguises—especially when it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing.