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LETTER: Don’t judge group by its business-friendly name

 LONSDALE, Minn. — A recent letter from Frank Knapp Jr. appears to be a duplicate of an op-ed submission to The Hill, a Washington newspaper, in which Knapp tries to persuade readers that the Keystone XL Pipeline threatens South Carolina tourism and uses the groups which he is tied to as some phony measure of support.

If the Herald is going to use a piece submitted elsewhere, the paper should note that the piece is a reprint.

And for full disclosure, Knapp (a former South Carolina Democratic state representative) also should mention that his group is in no way affiliated with the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce or the National Federation of Independent Businesses — groups that small businesses in Minnesota and North Dakota would be interested in.

The groups Knapp leads or helps lead, the South Carolina Small Business Chamber and the American Sustainable Business Council, do not represent mainstream business interests. They represent groups attacking chamber and small-business positions on health care, financial services and climate change.

The South Carolina Small Business Chamber shows up on websites such as Tax Justice and Business for Shared Prosperity. It’s part of the FACT Coalition, which is made up of unions and Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs).

In a 2010 story titled “Will the real voice of small business please stand up?”, Knapp tells Yes! Magazine that “unlike the U.S. Chamber, his (Knapp’s) group supported the health care bill and financial reform and favors legislation to curb global warming.”

In a May 2012 Reuters story, Knapp identifies the NFIB as a “‘small-business pretender’ and ‘lapdog’ of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”

This isn’t just happening in South Carolina. It’s happening all over the United States. In Minnesota, a “business” group called Small Business Minnesota was created to place ads at election time, pretending to sound like a legitimate business interest organization. This same group also received money through the Minnesota Health Exchange.

The group was founded by a DFL candidate for Minnesota House, who then helped set up a PAC under this organization to attack the incumbent House member. The founder and political candidate was listed as the group’s president and as media, legislative contact, spokesvoice and government affairs chair.

Even though it spent money to attack a candidate, the group apparently filed no campaign reports acknowledging it had done so.

Just because a group sounds legitimate doesn’t mean it is. The groups that Knapp uses may be real, but they don’t represent the average business in North Dakota. They represent a political interest aligned with the Democrats, whose sole purpose seems to deceive voters that they are mainstream. They actually are anything but.

David Anderson