The Gap is facing pressure from dozens of activist non-profit groups to part ways with the “hyper-partisan” lobbying group the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
In a letter sent to Gap Inc. chief executive officer Art Peck, 55 groups, including Public Citizen, Sierra Club and Economic Policy Institute, asked that the global retailer leave the Chamber, a pro-business lobbying group that almost exclusively supports Republican political candidates and causes.
The groups pointed out several efforts by Gap to fight climate change, like a commitment to sustainable fibers and cutting greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, but said the Chamber is “doing everything it can” to undermine such work.
“[The Chamber] opposes the Paris Agreement that you publicly support, is suing to block the implementation of the Clean Power Plan, consistently lobbies against legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and spends millions of dollars in money on elections ads urging voters to back candidates who support the fossil fuel industry and oppose efforts to combat climate change,” the groups said in the letter to Peck.
Beyond its work against various actions combating climate change, the Chamber has also become a “highly partisan political organization,” according to the letter, which pointed to the lobby’s 2016 campaign to “Save the Senate” in favor of Republicans and its funding of only Republican political candidates.
“The Chamber is now working hand-in-glove with President Trump and Republicans in Congress to enact its anti-environmental, anticonsumer agenda,” the letter to Peck said. “Your customer base and employees are ideologically diverse and purchasing Gap products should not require consumers to fund a partisan agenda with which many may disagree.”
Companies like Apple and CVS have already decided to publicly leave the Chamber’s membership, according to the groups, while “many other Fortune 500 companies” have done so quietly.
Beyond the letter, a Public Citizen spokeswoman said the “Drop the Chamber” effort will consist of “continued social media and grassroots pressure,” along with outreach to other company executives and board members.
The spokeswoman added that while Gap, Disney and Pepsi, which received similar letters Monday morning, are the focus of the campaign for now, other companies will be urged to do so in the future.
A spokeswoman for the Chamber largely brushed off the “false and baseless” attack, which she attributed to Public Citizen, a liberal nonprofit and think tank founded by Ralph Nader focused on consumer issues.
“Public Citizen actually created an entity, Chamber Watch, whose sole purpose is to attack the U.S. Chamber because of our support for the free enterprise system and the fact that we represent the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes and industries, including state and local chambers on issues impacting economic growth and job creation,” the spokeswoman added.
A Gap spokeswoman said the company is “not a member of the Chamber.” However, a 2015 “political engagement” disclosure from the company indicated that it gave at least $1,000 in support to an international segment of the Chamber.
The Chamber is one of the largest lobbying groups in the U.S. and in 2016 spent nearly $104 million to promote its agenda, more than any other single lobbying group, according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics.
On its web site, the Chamber says it supports a “technology-based approach to environmental progress” but opposes “a heavy-handed regulatory approach that smothers the U.S. economy in massive costs.” While the group does not deny climate change, it opposes scientific consensus that it’s mainly a result of human activity.
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