What is going on? For years, anyone who has paid attention to paid political advertisements has known that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce champions Republican/Tea Party candidates and ideals. Like most people, I naively felt that my local chamber was all about, or supposed to be about, promoting local businesses and promoting business opportunities for those looking to relocate their businesses to Las Cruces, not advocating for a particular political party.
However, with the recent onslaught of advertisements from the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce (“GLCCC”) promoting the training by American Majority, a political action committee whose website states that it is an “organizing arm of the Right,” and which they are hosting on Aug. 2, it is clear that my understanding of the mission of the GLCCC was mistaken and the GLCCC has become nothing but another political arm of the Republican/Tea Party and their local activists.
Despite the tag line that American Majority is a “non-partisan political training organization,” one only need go to their website to see that statement is clearly not true. As noted, the first sentence on their website states, “American Majority is the organizing arm of the Right.” (The capital “R” is theirs, not mine.) Further exploration finds “staff bios” that describe the Republican candidates and far-right causes these two staffers have worked for in the interest of promoting a so-called “non partisan” organization, including paid staff positions in the McCain-Palin and Bush-Cheney campaigns. Finally, the training is not being held in a neutral location; rather, it is being held at a business-owned and operated by a Republican Party official (First Vice-Chairman and former Republican County Chair Russell Allen).
This extreme, partisan, far-right organization has no place within the GLCCC, whose stated mission is building business opportunity within our community, regardless of political affiliation. Many community business leaders have traditionally leaned towards the Republican philosophy which is their prerogative. But even good Republicans should be appalled at the local chamber associating with radical, right-wing political action activists groups. I am sure they would be equally outraged if the reverse was happening, and the local chamber was hosting a left-wing extremist group.
We are seeing a pattern in New Mexico of right wing organizations trying to invade our state. They are funded by “dark money” and the super wealthy to influence our local communities. The Central New Mexico Labor Council recently organized a protest rally against training by the Rio Grande Foundation in Albuquerque. As with American Majority, this far right think-tank consistently attacks labor unions, public education, environmental regulations, the Affordable Care Act, and minimum wage. Sound familiar? I call on the GLCCC to get back to its core purpose, and cancel this so-called candidate training. The American Majority is a partisan, Republican organization, whose only concern is promoting the Republican/Tea Party and its philosophy. Democrats, Independents and many others find this demeaning, offensive and not representative of our local business community.
Christy L. French is chair of the Democratic Party of Doña Ana County.