FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 16, 2018

CONTACT: Ellen Moorhouse, press@represent.us, (413) 333-5656  

Chamber’s claims of intimidation baseless, lack evidence

Attempt to distract from Chamber-backed lawsuit to stop people’s right to vote

Despite lack of evidence, columnists take the bait

DETROIT – The Michigan Chamber of Commerce is the top contributor to a lawsuit to knock the anti-gerrymandering initiative off the November ballot. Responding to a high profile ad campaign criticizing the Chamber and their executive committee, they are making false claims that Represent.Us, the group behind the ads, is using threats and intimidation against the Chamber. Despite the lack of examples or evidence, some are taking the bait. Detroit News columnist Nolan Finley claims that Represent.Us is using “terroristic tactics.” Columnist Rochelle Riley called foul play by Represent.Us before quietly adding a quote in her column to correct the record.

Represent.Us Co-founder and Director Josh Silver said, “The Michigan Chamber’s false claims, repeated by many in the media, are not simply exaggerations, they are outright lies. In Michigan — and across the country — Represent.Us has never published a single post that could be construed as threatening, partisan, or violent. Doubters need only visit our digital sites at Represent.UsFacebook and Twitter to see for themselves. The Chamber, in a desperate effort to change the subject away from their unprincipled lawsuit against the anti-gerrymandering initiative, is pointing to inappropriate comments made by the general public on Facebook. These are comments that no one could prevent from posting, but are immediately deleted by Represent.Us staff.”

Writing on Medium.com, Lansing-based appellate attorney Patrick Levine Rose wrote an open letter to Nolan Finley: “I am writing to see if you have any factual basis for the claims you make about threats made by members of Represent Us or at their urging. In your article, you offer no proof that any Represent.Us official or member encouraged or incited anyone to make violent threats (or approved making such threats). It would violate basic journalistic ethics if you do not have a factual basis for your allegations. The article provided none.”

Josh Silver continued, “Represent.Us unequivocally denounces any and all forms of intimidation, threats or violence. I explained this to Chamber Executive Committee Chairman Mark Davidoff of Deloitte when he called me with his concerns. Our commitment to these principles are unwavering.”

Represent.Us is the nation’s largest grassroots anti-corruption campaign, bringing together conservatives, progressives and everyone in between to advocate for government that represents everyday americans, not just special interests and the well-connected. Michigan chapter leaders launched the pressure campaign against the Chamber three weeks ago. Represent.Us has more than 7,000 Michigan members, and chapters in Detroit, Lansing and the Great Lakes Bay Region.

Director Josh Silver continued, “The Chamber describes Represent.Us a far-left group. We have Tea Party members on our board, Republicans on staff, and thousands of conservative members. Unrigging American politics wears no ideology or party. It’s not a liberal or conservative issue—It’s an American issue. Represent.Us is one of the few advocacy organizations in America that has criticized gerrymandering both in states like Maryland where Democrats benefit, and states like Michigan, where Republicans benefit.”

The Chamber claims that the funding sources for Represent.Us are difficult to identify. This is ironic for two reasons: first because this is the very complaint we had against them, and primarily because Represent.Us has a publicly-available list of funders right on its website.

Michigan is one of the most heavily gerrymandered states in America. According to the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, the state's congressional and legislative district maps fail several tests to evaluate partisan gerrymandering. The corrupt practice fosters a lack of competition, and props up an outdated two-party duopoly. The Chamber’s lawsuit undermines the noble work of Voters Not Politicians, who gathered over 425,000 signatures to fix our broken political system.

The primary target of the pressure campaign until now, Chamber Chair Mark Davidoff, is the Michigan Managing Director of financial firm Deloitte. His company has received more than $400 million worth of active Michigan government contracts, a tidy sum compared to the $295,000 in campaign contributions the firm has made since 2000 in Michigan. There is a deep financial interest in protecting the status quo.

Silver concluded, “They will call us names and spin their distraction campaign based on lies and fear. But the hard truth is that advocates of the anti-gerrymandering initiative are doing what our founding fathers did centuries ago: fighting the forces of corruption, demanding self-government and building a democracy for the people. We will continue our work until Michiganders secure their sacred, constitutional right to vote this November.”

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Represent.Us is the nation’s largest grassroots anti-corruption campaign, bringing together conservatives, progressives and everyone in between to pass anti-corruption laws in cities and states around the country.