There once was a day where the Chamber of Commerce stood for the small business on Main Street. Somehow that perception has persisted in some conservative circles in South Carolina, even though the times have changed. A lot.
A quick look at the SC Chamber of Commerce website paints quite a different story, and is worth looking into, considering their presence as a powerful lobby in our State House. Seven membership levels ranging from Stakeholder ($595/year, less than 25 employees) all the way up to Chairman’s Circle ($50,000/year) give the illusion that the smaller businesses are given a seat at the table, but when the Chairman’s Circle members pay as much as 85 times more than small businesses, do you really think lower-paying members are given an equal voice? Or should I say equitable?
Among Board Members are leaders from Blue Cross Blue Shield, MUSC (government-run hospital), Duke Energy, Prisma Health, AT&T, Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Sunoco, CVS, Dominion Energy, Samsung, Chernoff Newman (with $16.7M in State contracts in 2021-2022), Boeing, TD Bank, Bank of America, UPS, Santee Cooper (quasi-governmental entity)…plus more large businesses. The full statewide membership list is reserved for paying members. Though a search on the SCGOV Spending Transparency website shows that the State Election Commission paid $3000 in dues in 2022 (WHAT?!). When you branch out and look at cities like Charleston, you’ll find a similar staggering list of large companies and government entities in their Platinum Investors.
Perhaps the reason our “Republican” legislators were adamantly opposed to removing DEI from the State Budget last month is the Chamber’s lobby from the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Read here for more on the Chamber’s position on DEI. It appears ‘woke’ is being pushed by the Chamber’s aggressive legislative agenda, and our Chamber of Commerce Republican Representatives have bought it hook, line, and sinker. In fact, one of the top perks of Chamber Membership is “Aggressive year-round representation in Columbia by experienced lobbyists”. This. Right here. This is why the officials we elected are not voting the way the majority of citizens want them to.
Click here to read the Chamber’s Legislative Report. I strive to see much difference between the vast majority of Republicans and Democrats on many of the issues the Chamber has singled out as important. Beyond Covid vaccination.
I will add that not ALL of the Chamber’s agenda is bad. In fact, I can get on board with SOME of their agenda. See below: