Behind the Chamber of Commerce Curtain

This is an article written by the Alabama Assocation for Justice President, Bob Prince.


For the National Chamber of Commerce to ridicule an organization for improving its name is ironic at best and hypocritical at worst.  As an association, when it’s determined your name only communicates who your members are (trial lawyers) but not what they do (fight for justice), it’s time for a change.  The members of the Alabama Medical Association and the Alabama Education Association fight to improve medicine and education, respectively, in Alabama.  Our members are consumer advocates who fight for justice for all Alabamians, no matter how large or powerful the opposition, and no cute “leopard ad” will ever change that.
But back to the chamber’s hypocrisy.  Not too long ago, the Alabama version of the Chamber of Commerce changed its name to The Business Council of Alabama. Ever heard of the goose and gander?
More importantly, what comes to mind when you think of the National Chamber of Commerce – not the local chambers of commerce that help small business grow, develop and provide jobs, I mean the National folks?  You know, the one that is kept up by the likes of Karl Rove and Jack Abramoff; the one that is stealthily funded by Allstate and Exxon. Speaking of Exxon, can you believe that the chamber points to that case in its “leopard ad” as an excessive Alabama verdict?
Unbelievable! But then again it’s not, if we remember who really pays the chamber to run the ad. Never mind that 2 different juries made up of hard-working, God-fearing, family-values based jurors assessed punitive damages against Exxon for deliberately submitting false information about how much money they owed the state after harvesting one of our natural resources – natural gas, and lots of it – billions of cubic feet in fact. Parenthetically, that’s one way to net almost 40 BILLION dollars annually – lower your inventory cost. Is this a great country or what?
Not only did Exxon, a.k.a. Chamber of Commerce-puppeteer-extraordinaire, get caught not paying, they had a contingency plan ready for such an event: appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court. That’s right, our court reversed the case because a letter was admitted into evidence that documented how Exxon knew it might get caught but probably wouldn’t because the “state auditors are not sophisticated” enough to understand what Exxon was doing.  
Wow! No wonder the front group for Exxon, you guessed it – the National Chamber of Commerce, runs anti-trial lawyer ads at every opportunity.  The lawyers that tried the case for the state of Alabama had enough experience in court (trial lawyers) and apparently were sophisticated enough (unlike our auditors) to expose Exxon for what it was – a CEO-led corporate cheater that stole from the people of Alabama.
So, how do you punish a corporate cheater? You hit ‘em where it hurts, square in the pocket book. Some folks say the more than 3 billion dollar punitive damage award (less than one month’s profit for Exxon) was too low for the oil giant to feel, especially since it makes more than $100 million a day!  So, to some (Exxon backed Chamber of Commerce) the verdict was excessive, and to others (the 24 jurors – hard working, tax paying Alabama citizens) it wasn’t. Leopard ad notwithstanding, you be the judge, just keep in mind who’s really pulling the chamber’s strings.     

Bob Prince
President, Alabama Association for Justice


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: