The U.S. Chamber of Commerce pushed for the soon-to-be-announced Nobel Peace Prize in a secret campaign so brash it embarrassed even some of its own employees, according to documents and a former worker.
The business federation nicknamed its campaign "Special Project." It courted U.S. lawmakers, world leaders and a former prize winner to get itself nominated for the award.
The chamber's pitch was that it has helped bring democracy and a free enterprise economy to Eastern Europe and the Third World.
Last year, the chamber drafted a nominating letter that said it "richly deserves international recognition for its bold and visionary leadership in the cause of human freedom, which is a prerequisite to world peace."
The chamber was nominated by David A. Morse, a New York attorney who was director general of the International Labor Organization, and Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.).
"I'd be embarrassed if I were promoting myself that much," said Barry King, the organization's media relations director until June. "It seems to me the people who have won it didn't need to toot their own horn so much."
But Milt Mitler, chamber vice president for public liaison, said Wednesday, "It was not a campaign. We were nominated for the prize by Sen. Lugar and Mr. Morse. We had to give them both historic information on what the chamber does or has done."