ACRA debates membership in national chamber, again |

ACRA debates membership in national chamber, again

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Debbie Braun, ACRA president

ASPEN – Some members of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association board of directors are once again calling for the local chamber to resign from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Board member Stan Clauson brought the issue up anew Tuesday, spurred by a recent report in The New York Times about corporate donations to the chamber that go toward campaign spending and fighting federal legislation. The Times cited record spending by the U.S. Chamber in the midterm elections, mostly in support of Republicans, which has made the organization “a target of critics, including a few local chamber affiliates who fear it has become too partisan and hard-nosed in its fundraising.”

“I don’t think we realize that’s what we’re getting associated with,” Clauson said. The U.S. Chamber’s views often run counter to those of the Aspen community, he argued, and several other board members agreed, setting the stage for a future discussion on the topic.

It’s not the first time the local chamber has voiced qualms with the U.S. Chamber’s positions. Last spring, some ACRA members clamored for withdrawing from the national organization over its stand on climate-change legislation and advertising on the issue that local board members decried as negative and unproductive.

Peter Havel, former executive director of the eight-state south/southwest region for the U.S. Chamber, came to Aspen to meet with the ACRA board, spurring a protest outside The Gant, where the meeting took place.

Havel challenged the local chamber to get involved in shaping the national group’s policy.

Debbie Braun, ACRA president, reiterated that approach Tuesday. The local chamber should work from within the organization to effect change, she argued.

Withdrawing from the national chamber, she said, would set a precedent that local businesses could follow, withdrawing as members of the ACRA if they disagree with one of the chamber’s positions.

“I’m not comfortable just saying, ‘We don’t like it, we should leave,'” Braun said.

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