Is the MD Chamber Pro-Business?

Recently, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce announced that its Board of Directors  appointed Brien Poffenberger as the organization’s next President and CEO.  Mr. Poffenberger replaces Kathy Snyder, who announced her retirement in June after leading the organization for more than 14 years. In classic political style, the public reason for Ms. Snyder’s retirement was “to spend more time with family” According to a source close to the legislature, however, there were other reasons prompting the change.

So what led the Maryland Chamber of Commerce to replace former President Kari Snyder with Brian Poffenberger?

To understand the answer, some context is necessary. First, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce is not as “Pro-Business” as one would think.  The Maryland Chamber very publicly supported the massive gasoline tax proposed by the O’Malley administration. According to legislative sources, the Maryland Chamber did this to support Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Mike Busch, who, despite their anti-business policies, are viewed by Chamber leaders as close allies.  The perception in Annapolis is that Chamber leaders would rather be a “voice in the room” rather than fight against legislation harmful to business in the state.

In this context, the ascension of Brian Poffenberger makes perfect sense.  First and foremost Mr. Poffenberger is a former legislative assistant to US Senator Barbara Mikulski (which is specially highlighted on his bio on the Chamber website). What isn’t on the Chamber’s website is that Brian Poffenberger was also a failed democrat candidate for Delegate in Legislative District 2b in 2010 where he tried to beat out pro-business Delegate Neil Parrot,

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As documented by the Potomac Tea Party Report, Poffenberger didn’t exactly run an honest campaign for delegate and was called out on it. Campaign finance reports from that race show contributions to Poffenberger from, among others, entities close to Mike Miller, the MSEA and Friends of Heather Mizeur. In the 2014 cycle, Poffenberger gave $250 to each Anthony Brown and Gov. Elect Larry Hogan and roughly another $750 to the Washington County Democrat party.

One has to wonder how this new President of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce will interact with a Republican Governor and even more how such a partisan and left wing democrat can be the President of an organization that should attempt to be bi-partisan?

The selection of Mr. Poffenberger seems to indicate that the Maryland Chamber of Commerce will continue to chart a course to keep it a part of the Maryland Democratic Party machinery and not a true voice for Maryland businesses.

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