Facing unprecedented public scrutiny and the beginnings of a mass corporate exodus, the American Legislative Exchange Council is on defense. This morning, the organization issued a statement explaining that they are a “pro-growth, pro-jobs” policy organization, and really can’t see what all the fuss is about. Here’s a snippet:
"For years, ALEC has partnered with legislators to research and develop better, more effective public policies – legislation that creates a more transparent, accountable government, policies that place a priority on free enterprise and consumer choice, and tax policies that are fair, simple and that spur the kind of competiveness that puts Americans back to work.
"At a time when job creation, real solutions and improved dialogue among political leaders is needed most, ALEC’s mission has never been more important. This is why we are redoubling our commitment to these essential priorities. We are not and will not be defined by ideological special interests who would like to eliminate discourse that leads to economic vitality, jobs and fiscal stability for the states."
Unfortunately for ALEC, these defenses simply don’t hold water. If ALEC’s idea of “discourse” means putting corporate lawyers together with state lawmakers at secret conferences to draft pro-corporate legislation; and “economic vitality” and “jobs” means suppressing the vote, locking up immigrants, busting unions and wrecking the environment – all measures designed to funnel money into the coffers of ALEC’s corporate members regardless of the damage to others – then there’s a lot more fuss headed their way. Here’s part of PFAW Foundation president Michael Keegan’s response:
“ALEC’s statement would have us believe that their policies promote ‘economic vitality,’ but it is difficult to see how policies that disenfranchise thousands of voters, create irrational gun laws like ‘Shoot First,’ promote fast tracks to prison for immigrants and endanger our health and safety by gutting environmental protections make any American better off. The true economic consequences of the ALEC agenda – which includes privatizing public resources such as schools and prisons, dismantling unions and stacking the deck against average people who try to seek justice in a court of law – is that wealthy special interests get even richer while the rest of us are left in the dust. ALEC believes in job creation – unless job elimination is better for the bottom line of a few corporations."
The full statement is available here.
This morning, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) issued a response to the decisions by The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, McDonald's, Kraft Foods and Intuit to leave the organization in the face of increasing public exposure of – and opposition to – the extreme agenda ALEC has pushed through state legislatures across the country.
People For the American Way Foundation President Michael Keegan issued the following statement:
“ALEC’s statement would have us believe that their policies promote ‘economic vitality,’ but it is difficult to see how policies that disenfranchise thousands of voters, create irrational gun laws like ‘Shoot First,’ promote fast tracks to prison for immigrants and endanger our health and safety by gutting environmental protections make any American better off. The true economic consequences of the ALEC agenda – which includes privatizing public resources such as schools and prisons, dismantling unions and stacking the deck against average people who try to seek justice in a court of law – is that wealthy special interests get even richer while the rest of us are left in the dust. ALEC believes in job creation – unless job elimination is better for the bottom line of a few corporations.
“Americans won't forget that corporate representatives are bypassing the democratic process by drafting these policies in secret and using ALEC to help pass them into law. It’s no wonder that the American people disapprove, and businesses that depend on the American people have no reason to advance such a harmful agenda. We commend the leadership of the companies who have left ALEC thus far.”
Over 100 activists rallied in Washington DC today to call for justice for Trayvon Martin. The people gathered had another point to make as well: Americans are fed up with ALEC’s pernicious influence in writing pro-corporate legislation and pushing it through state legislatures across the country. Today, outside ALEC’s headquarters, we made sure we were heard.
People For’s Diallo Brooks spoke at the event, calling attention to role ALEC and the NRA played in setting the stage for this tragic situation. While racial profiling may be at the heart of this case, the laws pushed by ALEC at have hampered Trayvon’s family’s ability to seek justice, just as ALEC legislation has done to so many Americans.
Here are some additonal photos from the event:
People For the American Way also signed and delivered a letter to ALEC demanding that they disclose their financial ties to the National Rifle Association and desist from promoting "Shoot First" laws. You can read the letter here.
Tomorrow, activists and progressive organizations will descend on the headquarters of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Washington, DC to protest the NRA-designed “Shoot First” laws that ALEC has shopped to state legislatures around the country. As Calvin posted earlier this week, “When politicians enact ALEC legislation that benefits corporations, real people suffer the consequences. The results are tragic:”
(Source: Data issued by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement)
Information for the rally is below, and pictures will be posted after the event.
WHAT: Rally in Washington, DC, to protest the ALEC campaign to pass the "Shoot First" laws that protect Trayvon Martin's shooter, and delivery of letter to ALEC headquarters demanding disclosure of NRA funding and immediate cessation of “Shoot First” legislative advocacy:
WHEN: Thursday, March 29, 2012 at Noon
WHERE: ALEC Headquarters, 1100 Vermont Ave., NW Washington, DC
Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL); Hilary Shelton, NAACP; Marc Morial, National Urban League; Rashad Robinson, ColorOfChange; Lisa Graves, CMD/ALECexposed; Mike Livingston, National Council of Churches; Diallo Brooks, People For the American Way; Doug Clopp, Common Cause.
When state legislatures around the country passed virtually identical bills to deregulate specific industries, dismantle unions or award massive tax cuts to corporations, one might wonder if such pro-special interest, pro-corporate legislation originates organically from the people's elected representatives. People For the American Way Foundation's Right Wing Watch: In Focus report on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) exposes the quietly influential organization behind pro-corporate laws in states throughout the country. By connecting powerful industry lobbyists with elected officials, ALEC works behind the scenes to mold state laws in the interest of big corporations -- usually completely under the radar of voters.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a key voice for corporate special interests in state legislatures across the county, is welcomed with an especially warm embrace in Arizona, according to a report released by People For the American Way Foundation and Common Cause. With one of the highest concentrations of ALEC legislators of any state in the United States, Arizona lawmakers are working hand-in-hand with corporate leaders who make up ALEC's membership to deregulate specific industries, privatize education and dismantle unions, the report found.
A report by People For the American Way Foundation, Common Cause, the Center for Media and Democracy and Progress Ohio reveals the deep ties between the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Ohio's legislature. Through a side-by-side comparison of ALEC legislative models and actual Ohio bills, the report shows how Ohio's legislators are working in tandem with corporate leaders to deregulate key industries, privatize education and dismantle unions.