Charles Schwab leaves the US Chamber of Commerce

The seal of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will be displayed during restoration on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at its headquarters in Washington, DC, United States.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Charles Schwab has left the US Chamber of Commerce, a move that comes when the company and lobby group change their respective political activities.

Charles Schwab said he would close his Political Action Committee after the deadly January 6 riot at the Capitol, citing extreme partisanship in politics. The chamber, usually viewed as GOP-friendly, backed several Democrats in the 2020 election.

Charles Schwab said his move had nothing to do with the chamber’s recent political actions. The company, whose millions of customers are worth trillions of dollars in net worth, hinted the move was tied to its own decision to shut down its PAC.

“Our decision to terminate our membership in the Chamber has nothing to do with your political activities. As you can see from our recent decision to terminate our PAC, we have reconsidered our cooperation with policy makers,” the company said.

Charles Schwab did not disclose when he had left the chamber.

The US Chamber of Commerce is the largest corporate lobby group in the country. The Washington-based company has a high retention rate among its members.

“Firstly, the Chamber does not comment on its members. We have the overwhelming support of our members and consistently enjoy a retention rate of more than 95% because our members know what we stand for – harnessing the power of business to benefit society and people to improve.” lives, “the group told CNBC.

“Second, we failed to become a 109-year-old institution by immersing ourselves in the political winds of the moment. The North Star of the Chamber was and is to create American jobs, stimulate economic growth and take the lead . ” The response of the business community to solving the country’s key challenge – advancing the economy to recover from a pandemic – is a top priority right now, “the group said.” The chamber represents companies of all industries and sizes on over 300 topics in Washington, im all over the country and all over the world. That is what we are working on at this time. “

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News of Charles Schwab’s decision to leave the Chamber comes during a reckoning for large corporations re-evaluating their political contributions following the pro-Trump uprising at the Capitol that killed five people, including a police officer. Several companies have frozen donations after the attack.

Charles Schwab’s PAC contributed over $ 470,000 to a mix of Republican and Democratic lawmakers during the 2020 election, including a donation to House Minority Chairman Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

McCarthy was one of over 135 House Republicans who objected to the election college results, which showed Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in the presidential election.

The Chamber of Commerce said in a March memo that it would not continue its prohibition of contributions to lawmakers who questioned the election results. The Business Advocacy Group said it would “evaluate our support for candidates – Republicans and Democrats – based on their position on issues of concern to the Chamber and their demonstrated commitment to government and the rebuilding of our democratic institutions.”

The chamber approved nearly two dozen House Democrats last year. The Chamber has long spoken out against an increase in corporate taxes. It helped improve the nation’s infrastructure and vehemently pushed back Trump’s tariffs.

This move enraged Republican leaders. McCarthy said in an interview last year that he did not want the Chamber’s approval because “they are sold out”. Senate minority chairman Mitch McConnell also targeted the chamber last year.

“Honestly, I think they’re so confused that they probably won’t make much of a difference,” McConnell said at the time.

For the chamber, Schwab’s move could be a financial blow to the organization. As a 501 (c) (6) non-profit organization, it relies in part on dues and membership fees to stay afloat. Under this tax-exempt status, the group is not required to disclose its donors.

Issue One, a group tracking money in politics, said in a report that the Chamber of Commerce has raised at least $ 1.3 billion since 2010. Companies like Dow Chemical, Chevron, Merck, Microsoft, Qualcomm, 3M, Intel, and MetLife are listed as donors who have given over $ 1 million.

CNBC reached out to all of these companies. Microsoft, Chevron and MetLife said they would continue to be members of the Chamber of Commerce. The others did not return any requests for comment prior to posting.

Republican strategists and fundraisers told CNBC that Charles Schwab is unlikely to be the last company to part ways with the chamber in the current political environment.

Those people, who refused to be named to speak freely, said some companies are planning to end their support for the Chamber of Commerce amid changes in the group’s policy-making.

Charles Schwab, chairman of the company of the same name, which he founded about 50 years ago, was a prolific Republican donor.

In 2020, he donated millions to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC that supports Republican candidates, and the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC that supports GOP Senate candidates. The SLF is operated by longtime McConnell allies.

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