I’ve posted two articles in the last two days about ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), a group that writes conservative model legislation for state legislators. Legislators both federal and state have benefitted by their ‘think tank’ work. Corporations hold memberships as well. This week, The Color of Change, an organization dedicated to “strengthening Black America’s political voice,” issued a boycott against ALEC members due to the group’s support for Voter I.D. CocaCola and Kraft Foods dropped their membership – Coke was gone in just 5 hours. Pepsi dropped out earlier this year. I have a very detailed post about what ALEC is, what they do, and the important work they support. Read the background here. In the meantime, the Occupy movement is targeting ALEC.
In researching ALEC, you can hardly find anything positive, but I assure you, the Left has the same type of organizations, John Podesta’s Center for American Progress is just one. ALEC is not corrupt, and not destructive of anything but the Progressive agenda, but you would think The Joker is at the helm after just a few glances on Google. The following information received from Laura Alcorn, the National Director of America Conservative2Conservative, is an example of what ALEC is facing:
In February, motherjones posted that occupiers in 80 American cities will hold the movement’s largest coordinated demonstration since fall: a huge protest against the American Legislative Exchange Council.
“It’s an extremely secretive organization,” says David Osborn, an organizer with Occupy Portland’s Portland Action Lab, which is spearheading the national protest (known on Twitter as #F29 and #ShutDownTheCorporations). “Our goal is to expose the destructive role that it plays in our society.”
Founded in 1973 as a “nonpartisan membership organization for conservative state lawmakers,” ALEC brings together elected officials and corporations like Walmart, Bank of America, and McDonald’s to draft model legislation that often promotes a right-wing agenda. It claims to be behind 10 percent of bills introduced in state legislatures.
Though Mother Jonesbroke the story on ALEC in 2002, the group began gaining more attention from progressive activists in July, when the Center for Media and Democracy obtained and published a trove of more than 800 “model bills” crafted and voted upon by ALEC’s members.
Since then, the Center’s website, ALEC Exposed, has drawn attention to ALEC’s conservative agenda and funders, which include ExxonMobil, the Olin and Scaife families, and foundations tied to Koch Industries. “ALEC is like a speed-dating service for lonely legislators and corporate executives,” says Mark Pocan, a Democratic state assemblyman in Wisconsin, where ALEC played a role in last year’s efforts to cripple public-sector unions. “The corporations write the bills and the legislators sign their names to the bills. In the end, we’re stuck with bad laws and nobody knows where they came from.”
Prominent bills drafted by ALEC include Arizona’s SB 1070 (the nation’s strictest anti-immigration legislation) and proposals introduced in 38 states to undermine Obama’s health care law by making it illegal to penalize residents for failing to obtain health insurance. A recent study of ALEC’s impact in Virginia found that it was responsible for 50 bills introduced there, including legislation to require people to show identification before voting, encourage schools to contract with private education companies, and legalize the use of deadly force in defending one’s home.
Democratic lawmakers in Arizona and Wisconsin are fighting back. Their proposed ALEC Accountability Act would require the group to register as a lobbying organization, thereby forcing it to disclose its financiers. Pocan, the Wisconsin assemblyman, went so far as to crash an ALEC convention in New Orleans and post his findings on YouTube.
In the works since January, today’s protests are just as much about the broader issue of corporate control of politics. “We are rejecting a society that does not allow us to control our future,” says a call to action on Shut Down the Corporations, the umbrella website for the protests.
Conservatives don’t really do organized boycotts well, but we can know our enemies, and Color of Change is one (Van Jones’ organization). The Black Congressional Caucus is one, and the wonky Occupy movement is another. It’s about cheating the vote in America. Please read this for more information.