HALLER WILL HEAD FRANCHISE ASSOCIATION: The International Franchise Association has tapped Matt Haller, its top lobbyist, as the trade group’s next president and chief executive. He’ll succeed Robert Cresanti, who stepped down in March.


COMCAST SPIKES ADS TARGETING CHAMBER MEMBERS: Liberal watchdog group Accountable.US, which has been spearheading a campaign to pressure companies that have spoken out in defense of voting rights to sever ties with the Chamber over its opposition to Democrats’ voting and ethics reform bill H.R. 1 (117), is crying foul after Comcast rejected ads targeting three such companies in their hometown media markets.

— The group has been calling on corporations, especially those who signed on to a full-page ad in the New York Times earlier this year in response to Republican efforts in statehouses across the country to enact restrictive new voting laws, to drop the Chamber, which said it would key-vote the bill. The Chamber “strongly opposes” the Democratic bill because of its lack of GOP support (an issue Sen. Joe Manchin, who opposes it as well, has cited) and provisions to more strongly regulate political advocacy groups.

— Accountable.US announced a six-figure ad buy this week centering on Microsoft, Salesforce and Target in their hometowns of Seattle, San Francisco and the Twin Cities. The ads feature a clip of MSNBC host Rachel Maddow asserting that the companies’ public statements denouncing restrictive voting laws are at odds with the Chamber’s lobbying on the expansive bill. After first receiving the greenlight from Comcast, the group says the cable provider then reversed course and rejected them based on their use of an NBCUniversal personality (Comcast owns NBCUniversal) and the ads’ “attacks on individual organizations,” according to an email from the company sent to Accountable.US and obtained by PI. The email notes that a more general ad urging “corporate CEOs” to leave the Chamber could be accepted if the footage of Maddow is dropped from it.

— The company’s advertising content guidelines bar ads containing an “attack of a personal nature, a direct attack on an individual business or comment on a private dispute,” though they say ads targeting businesses “in the public forum” or relating to issues “of public concern” may be accepted. “We’ve determined it doesn’t fit with the guidelines,” Comcast spokesperson Sena Fitzmaurice said in an interview, refusing to elaborate further but reiterating the company would review the spots again if Accountable.US removed Maddow and the “personal individual attacks.”

— “Considering Comcast’s strong ties to the U.S. Chamber, its refusal to air ads questioning member corporations’ commitment to voting rights reeks of self-interest — an apparent effort to keep consumers in the dark and corporations from abandoning the U.S. Chamber over its ongoing support of voter suppression,” Accountable.US President Kyle Herrig argued in a statement, though the Chamber contends the group “blatantly distorts the Chamber’s position.” Fitzmaurice roundly dismissed the notion that the rejections had anything to do with Mike Rose, Comcast’s vice president for external affairs who was named chair of the Chamber’s political action committee for the upcoming election cycle.

— Even if the group’s ads remain off the air for most Comcast customers, Accountable.US said this afternoon CNN had agreed to run a general version of the ad on their network nationwide, contending “it raises more questions about the excuses Comcast is hiding behind for not running it,” while the group will also be running digital and print ads in Seattle, San Francisco and the Twin Cities.