Beyond the Rhetoric
By Harry C. Alford
Yes, it was quite a victory for business organizations. We stopped the Cap and Trade Bill dead in its tracks. This would be the start of a pro-business movement knocking down the majority of President Obama’s Environmental and Regulatory Platforms. His view of an economic agenda for the Black middle class was expanding welfare and Medicaid – even free phones. Ours was to solidify our economic infrastructure and, therefore, create growth in business development and attractive jobs.
Our brand was growing extensively. We were hitting the cable talk shows. Major newspapers loved our quotes. Our growth and popularity was becoming a “pain” to the very progressive Obama doctrine. As we say in this industry after doing something major and successful against the Democratic Party, “How are they going to come after us?” That was a given. However, I never dreamed that something so elaborate requiring huge resources from them would be created and targeted toward the National Black Chamber of Commerce which was conceived in my wife’s kitchen back in the early 1990s.
It started to appear that the Obama Administration was more than progressive. It was radical. They decided to take on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber sent the new administration an invitation to discuss and work together on issues whenever possible. In response, the Obama “disciples” formed the One Percent Movement. They held anti-Wall St. demonstrations, which would tie up some of our major cities. They sent letters to the Chamber’s Board of Directors demanding that they resign their positions. I laughed hard when I received mine. They would threaten some members who had to hire bodyguards to protect their homes, businesses, and family members. It was anarchy by any other name.
They tried to start a rival organization called the U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce (climate change the- me). It soon flopped. Then they tried another idea. How about creating a Black organization to rival the National Black Chamber of Commerce? Even at our conception there were “car loads” of people trying to rival our Mission Statement and leadership direction. A few tried to steal our name. We would peel them off one by one from one city to the other.
On this attempt, we had no idea about what was going to happen. A group of enablers formed – Wells Fargo, AT&T, Phoenix University, about 10 nonaffiliated chambers, a Black-owned newspaper in Arizona, Obama’s SBA, MBDA and whoever else we didn’t detect. John Podesta through his issues firm, Dewey Square, Valerie Jarrett, Michael Strautmanis (Valerie’s Chief of Staff) and a group of federally paid White House staffers and deputies were also in the mix.
From the above group of enemies there must have been a few million dollars vested in this vile attempt to destroy our federation. Propaganda, smears, and attempted poaching on our affiliated chapters became commonplace. They would write articles for Black newspapers like I do and would quote me like I approved them. They had me on their website like we were the same. Many were confused and a few desertions from our federation would pop up. It was an oxymoron. How can a business association support a nonbusiness agenda? They called themselves the “Obama Chamber of Commerce.”
They became so relentless that I concluded that we must sue them. They had a treasury that was a bottomless pit. In retrospect, it was probably Podesta. He has the bucks and knows where there are more. A lawsuit would lead to depositions and then we could find out who was really in charge. I asked my board of directors for approval. It was unanimous.
Before we filed a lawsuit, I had a Capitol Hill investigative reporter do some snooping. The assigned leader of this rival group had formally visited the White House over 23 times within six months. When asked about this under deposition he said, “We were organizing our new chamber – “By-Laws, Mission Statement, etc. The White House was so helpful.”
Costs were no problem to the White House. Where did they find this guy? Flew him out from Phoenix, AZ; put him in a multi-million-dollar home in North Bethesda; got his children into Georgetown Prep – one of the most expensive and prestigious boys’ schools in the United States; where is his office located? – in some other white organization’s office.
One last thing before we go to court. Michael Strautmanis called a “come to Jesus meeting” with our board and some of their players at the Old Executive Building across a lawn from the White House. No one above Michael in status was there. It got heated after about two hours when finally, Michael blurted out, “You guys don’t even know that it was Aubry Stone who came here and gave us this idea.” There it was! Thanks to Michael. It fits the history of Aubry. I smiled and remembered a piece from the Godfather movie– “It was Barzini all along.”
So now it was time to sue. We budgeted $300,000 to get to a reasonable settlement.
Mr. Alford is the co–founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org Email: [email protected]