The Kamber Group worked for Democratic Party candidates and labor unions for 25 years, becoming one of the most well-known "boutique" P.R. firms in Washington, D.C. Kamber sold The Kamber Group in 2005 to Carmen Group Lobbying, where he remains president of its subsidiary, Carmen Group Communications.
Kamber is a frequent guest on national and local television and radio programs, newspapers and magazines, and is a published author.
Kamber subsequently attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During his undergraduate schooling, Kamber joined the Phi Gamma Delta collegiate social fraternity and worked on the presidential campaign of United States Senator Barry Goldwater. He earned his bachelor's degree in 1965.
Kamber later received a Master of Arts degree from the University of New Mexico, a J.D. from the Washington College of Law at the American University, and a master of laws from George Washington University (he received this last degree in 1972).
In 1970, Kamber was convicted of forgery while teaching at Prince George's Community College (PGCC). At the time, Kamber was president of the national Young Republicans' leadership training school in Chicago. Federal officials accused him of submitting a forged letter to his draft board in 1968. The letter had ostensibly been signed by the president of PGCC and attested that Kamber was a faculty member there. But PGCC president John Handley testified he had not seen the letter, had not authorized it and had not signed it. Kamber was acquitted of charges that he did not teach at the community college, but convicted of forgery and sentenced to two years in prison.
After the defeat of the picketing bill, Kamber was tapped by AFL-CIO president George Meany to head a labor law reform task force. Kamber's goal was to prioritize the AFL-CIO's labor law reform goals, strategize a plan for building support for the bill, and winning the legislation's enactment. The effort never got off the ground, as political changes in Congress put the labor federation on the political defensive.
Almost immediately, Kamber took on some very high-profile clients. He established a legal defense fund for Rep. Frank Thompson, Jr. (D-New Jersey), who was caught in the federal government's Abscam sting. He also supported a movement to draft Sen. Ted Kennedy for the Democratic presidential nomination.
In 1982, Kamber founded the Progressive Political Action Committee (ProPAC). ProPAC was a political action committee which sought to counteract political election spending by the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC) by supporting Democratic candidate for federal office. Kamber served as ProPAC's treasurer. ProPAC shut down its operations in 1983.
Kamber did not neglect his labor roots, however. He was counsel for the NFL Players Association during the 1982 National Football League strike. He also served as a public relations consultant and spokesman for the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA). In April 1983, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations heard testimony that reputed Chicago mobster Tony Accardo "hand-picked" Edward T. Hanley of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees and Angelo Fosco of LIUNA to be presidents of their respective unions. Kamber helped LIUNA strategize a political and public relations response to the allegations. Kamber pushed his consulting firm to get into labor organizing campaigns as well. In 1984, he sued Ray Rogers, president of Corporate Campaigns, Inc., over Rogers' attempt to patent the term "corporate campaign. He also advised Doris Turner in her unsuccessful re-election bid for president of the Drug, Hospital, and Health Care Employees Union (better known as Local 1199) in 1986.
In 1984, Kamber served as a national campaign advisor to Sen. Alan Cranston during his run for the U.S. presidency. However, Kamber eventually resigned as political and public relations consultant to the campaign after complaining that Cranston's personal staff pushed him to the side. The relationship between Kamber and the Cranston campaign deteriorated further when Kamber sought a temporary restraining order freezing the campaign's funds. Kamber claimed the Cranston campaign owned him $150,000, but the funds were unfrozen a short time later.
In 1987, Kamber established Americans Against Government Control of Unions. The outfit was a non-profit company whose goal was to build public opinion against government takeovers of corrupt labor unions. William Olwell, vice president of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), was the group's treasurer. Kamber formed the group as UFCW, the Teamsters and other unions were under investigation for labor racketeering and domination by organized crime. Although The Kamber Group was working for the Teamsters at the time, Kamber asserted that the formation of his new organization was unrelated to the government's investigation of the Teamsters.
In 1988, Kamber played a key role in helping re-affiliate the Teamsters with the AFL-CIO. The union had been ejected from the labor federation in the 1950s over charges of corruption, but the AFL-CIO had been asking the Teamsters to rejoin the federation throughout the 1980s. William H. Wynn, president of UFCW, and BCTD president Georgine, assisted by Kamber, negotiated the Teamsters' return.
Kamber turned his attention back to politics in 1992. He supported the U.S presidential candidacy of Sen. Tom Harkin. Although he did not become involved in a presidential campaign to the extent that he did in 1984, Kamber nevertheless played a big role in the 1992 election. In July of that year, he established a political action committee called Americans for Change. The group's goal was to raise $1 million to run attack ads against President George H. W. Bush.
In 1993, Kamber led the battle to end a Republican filibuster of the nomination of William B. Gould IV to be chair of the National Labor Relations Board. The Republicans eventually gave up the filibuster, and Gould was confirmed.
In 2002, Kamber became a paid spokesman for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, acting as political consultant and public relations expert for the union.
In 2003, Kamber established the Kamber Group Political Action Fund, a political action committee. Kamber became the PAC's treasurer.
Kamber subsequently was forced to take responsibility for a scandal which involved the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), another AFL-CIO affiliate. In February 1985, Albert Shanker, then president of the AFT, announced at a news conference his union had convinced the New York State Teachers Retirement System to withdraw $450 million from Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company because the bank had poorly administered workers' pension funds. Shanker also announced that the union had convinced the Pennsylvania School Employees' Retirement System to withdraw $300 million from the same bank, and that five other state teachers' retirement funds were expected to do the same. AFL-CIO officials said the AFT had convinced the retirement systems to withdraw the funds to protest loans Manufacturers Hanover had made to the Phelps Dodge mining corporation, which was involved in a bitter strike with the steelworkers.
Shanker was later forced to retract his statement. The pension fund deal had never existed, he said a few days later. The state retirement funds had withdrawn only $200 million from the bank. Shanker also admitted the fund withdrawals had been going on since mid-1984, and had nothing to do with the strike at Phelps Dodge.
Shanker angrily said that he had been "taken advantage of," and blamed Kamber. Kamber accepted responsibility, saying, "We're paid to take the blame, so we're at fault."
In 2003, Kamber resigned as president of The Kamber Group. Thomas J. Mackell, Jr. was named president and chief operating officer of The Kamber Group in his stead. Kamber remained the company's chairman and chief executive officer.
On February 28 2005, Kamber closed The Kamber Group and joined The Carmen Group as president of Carmen Group Communications. The Carmen Group was founded by David M. Carmen, a friend of Kamber's. A number of Kamber employees took jobs with The Carmen Group as well.
In 2006, Kamber received the PR News Hall of Fame Award.
In 1979 Kamber purchased the Politicards name, a company that had put out a set of playing cards featuring the image of political candidates and public officials in 1972. He went on to produce his own sets of playing cards under the Politicards name for election years 1980 and 1984. In 1996, the Politicards name was reclaimed by Peter Green, the artist responsible for the original deck in 1972. The cards, known as "Politicards," were widely imitated over the years, especially by the most-wanted Iraqi playing cards.
In 1984, Kamber created "Rappin' Ronnie", a music video which depicted a rapping President Ronald Reagan. The video was broadcast on "Convention Television," a closed-circuit television "magazine program" broadcast to delegates at the Democratic National Convention. The video depicted a stuttering Reagan saying his trademark "W-w-w-w-well well well". The music video eventually aired on MTV, and was featured in "Homer Loves Flanders", a fifth-season episode of The Simpsons.
In 1992, Kamber started a PAC, Americans for Change, hoping to be the Democratic party's answer to Floyd Brown, the Republican party's opposition research specialist known for inethical, negative campaign tactics.
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