Playground of rich and shameless decides chamber of commerce too right-wing
Aspen’s chamber of commerce isn’t the first to sever ties with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over political differences. The chamber in Homer, Alaska, made national headlines when it canceled its membership last year.
But Auden Schendler, the Aspen Skiing Co.’s vice president of sustainability, believes the famous Rocky Mountain hamlet’s stature may bring more scrutiny to the U.S. Chamber’s right-wing agenda.
“Homer was a unique story, but Aspen is an even more high-profile town with often outsized influence,” Schendler said Thursday. “It’s the iconic ski town that often sets an example for others.”
At a retreat on Tuesday, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association’s board voted 11 to 1 to withdraw its membership from the national organization. Tension between Aspen’s chamber and the national one existed for years. The 680-member local chamber penned a letter to the national group in 2010 delineating its differences. But this year — which saw the driest winter in Aspen since the 1976-1977 season — politics are in overdrive thanks to the coming November general election. Several weeks ago, Aspen’s chamber began feeling pressure from Schendler and his Aspen Skiing Co. bosses, the mayor, a pair of county commissioners and residents who had had enough of the local chamber’s affiliation with the right-wing U.S. Chamber and its obstruction of solutions to climate change.
Aspen’s leaders initially said they would continue paying the $800 in annual dues because they considered it a good value in return for the services the national chamber provides. But with the chairlifts idle and Aspen’s streets clear of tourists after a warm winter brought the ski season to an early close, business leaders had more time to ponder the meaning of their membership.