Amid a wide array of internal tensions, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Thursday began laying off some employees as the lobbying group begins restructuring. Politico obtained a memo sent to staff from President Suzanne Clark that noted the streamlining of certain skills and services.

“This means we have had some difficult conversations with a small number of our colleagues whose roles are no longer required. It is never easy to say goodbye to people we know as both colleagues and friends, and we are supporting their transition in every way that we can,” read the memo obtained by Politico. 

There have been disputes within the lobbying group over a recent decision to endorse almost two dozen freshman House Democrats, garnering pushback from right-wing donors. 

The memo cites the coronavirus pandemic as the catalyst in prompting “conversations about controlling costs, resulting in prudent action on new hires, consultants, executive compensation, and other expenses.”

Some of the laid-off workers were involved in planning and building operations, a source told Politico.  

Top executives in the group had received criticism for excessive spending on private jets and luxury vacations. Unlike other top Washington trade associations, chiefs in the Chamber may use the corporate jet for personal and business trips among other perks, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

The Chamber has defended any claims of misuse of its funds by top executives. 

“The expenses are reasonable use of our membership’s funds and are critical to the continued effectiveness of the Chamber,” said Mike Ducker, chairman of the Chamber’s compensation committee.