In high-profile lobbying fight, US Black Chambers, Inc. faces dubious allegations

By Hazel Trice Edney

(Trice Edney Wire) – Formed just a few months ago, The Makers and Merchants Coalition is a staunch opponent of legislation that seeks to crack down on stolen and counterfeit goods sold in online marketplaces. But in his zeal to stop the legislation, he seems to have gone too far in his demands.

Funded by the Internet Association, a lobby group representing tech giants like Facebook in Silicon Valley and Amazon in Washington state, The Makers and Merchants Coalition boasted of having the support of a certain number of groups as he seeks to defeat the INFORM Consumers Act, the main one. the famous US Black Chamber, Inc. (USBC). The problem, however, is that the president of USBC says he doesn’t know anything about the group.

” I never heard of it ; never even spoke to them, ”Ron Busby told the Trice Edney News Wire. The INFORM Consumer Act aims to protect consumers by fighting “the online sale of stolen, counterfeit and dangerous consumer products,” according to the website of Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois), who presented legislation with Congressman Gus Bilirakis. (R-Fla). She is chair of the Consumer Protection and Trade Subcommittee of the House of Commons Energy and Trade Committee. Bilirakis is a rank member.

The Makers and Merchants Coalition has apparently made its statements about USBC on its website. For example, a screenshot from the group’s website shows the American company Black Chambers Inc. listed in a statement from the Makers and Merchants Coalition that says, “Across the country, small businesses, individual sellers and organizations who support them all stand up to Big Retail to fight the INFORM Act, a bill that threatens the privacy, security and livelihoods of millions of American entrepreneurs. See below for a list of organizations that reject this legislation, as well as links to letters of opposition. USBC is listed, but unrelated to any letter.

Why exactly the Makers and Merchants Coalition has claimed a partnership with USBC – including statements on its website – has become a mystery in Washington where political leaders rely on a number of groups to advance their political agenda. before legislators and regulators. The group did not respond to an email requesting its use of USBC.

Certainly, USBC’s support is a precious currency in any fight over legislation here in Washington, DC. Founded by Busby, the organization has around 108 chambers in 22 states and at least 240,000 members – mostly black-owned businesses. He describes his five pillars of service as access to capital, entrepreneur training, chamber development, advocacy and procurement.

In an interesting twist, the Makers and Merchants Coalition apparently removed references to USBC from their site after rumors circulated that USBC may not be as close to this group as the group would like to be. to believe. The Makers and Merchants Coalition is not the only group whose campaign tactics raise questions. A group calling themselves The Stop INFORM Act Coalition recently emailed lawmakers in Washington state saying they had USBC backing. Not only does this claim appear questionable. But the group could not be found in a simple internet search, raising questions about its origins and backers.

“We urge you to stop the INFORM Act (HB 1543), a discriminatory bill that violates the rights of small businesses and minority-owned businesses, criminalizes small businesses and minority-owned businesses that are just trying to win. lives honestly and creates barriers to access and fairness, as do Voter ID and Voter Suppression Bills that seek to impose significant burdens on minority voters trying to exercise their right most basic civilian, ”read the note in the email, signed by the Stop INFORM Act Coalition. It was sent to lawmakers and leaked to the Trice Edney News Wire. The email continues: “This is why the INFORM Act is officially opposed by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in the United States; the Black Chambers, Inc of the United States; the National Association of Women Entrepreneurs; the National Chamber of Commerce of the United States of Asia and the Pacific Islands; the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council; the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce; and women having an impact on public policies.

In an interview, Busby also said he was unfamiliar with The Stop INFORM Act Coalition. He added that although he has concerns about the INFORM Law, his organization has not taken a position to support or oppose the legislation. Busby said: “After reviewing the legislation, we have joined with a number of other organizations in raising concerns about certain elements of the original legislation and we are delighted to see that our voice has been heard.” He did not develop.

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