by Jeremy Leaming
As the campaign continues to encourage supporters of the right-wing advocacy group, the American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC, to rethink their support of the group, The Huffington Post’s Dan Froomkin reveals the group’s efforts to help its members fend off pesky questions about its corporate backers.
Froomkin says a memo, obtained by Common Cause, was sent to ALEC members essentially telling them to try and change the subject. “The model answers,” Froomkin writes, “provided by ALEC have the consistent theme of attempting to obscure the influence of its corporate members and to shift emphasis onto the role of legislators, whose dues comprise only 2 percent of the group’s budget, according to an analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy.”
For years ALEC has crafted model legislation for state lawmakers advancing interests of corporate America, as well as Religious Right outfits and the National Rifle Association, usually with little media notice. Bu that changed after Florida’s so-called “Stand Your Ground” law drew national coverage.
Although ALEC has argued that laws, such as the Stand Your Ground Law, which garnered national attention after the killing of the Florida youngster Trayvon Martin, are wholly the product of state lawmakers, high-profile commentators have noted that the group and its work is funded largely by big corporations.
In late March, Matt Gertz of Media Matters noted that the Florida law, which provides great legal protection to people who shoot others outside their homes, is “virtually identical to Section 1 of ALEC’s Castle Doctrine Act ….”
A coalition of groups, including ColorOfChange and CMD, has urged corporate sponsors to pay closer attention to the work of ALEC and to stop supporting it. More than a dozen corporations have severed ties with ALEC, including Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo., and Blue Cross Blue Shield. ColorOfChange recently announced that the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards has ceased support of ALEC.
Beyond supporting right-wing legislation, CMD’s Brendan Fischer reveals that ALEC’s corporate members “buy influence with legislators through gifts for flights, hotel rooms, and other perks denominated as ‘ALEC scholarships,’ according to information obtained through open records requests.”
In mid-April, ALEC announced it was disbanding its so-called “Public Safety and Elections” task force, and would only focus on economic policy, which is focused on furthering the interests of corporate America. ColorOfChange Executive Director Rashad Robinson said the announcement was a “PR stunt aimed at diverting attention from its agenda, which has done serious damage to communities.”
[image via Beverly & Pack]