by Max Brantley
The American Legislative Exchange Council is at last getting some of the unflattering attention it deserves. For decades the corporate (think Koch and ilk) lobby for regressive legislation on taxes, government regulation and now even various social issues, has primed state legislators with cookie-cutter legislation to advance the conservative Republican/plutocrat agenda. It's become so open that Sen. Missy Irvin brought down an ALEC staffer to testify for her bill they'd help cook up. Against health care reform, naturally.
Today, the New York Times piles on editorially, noting how ALEC is losing corporate sponsors and chafing in the spotlight for its luggage-carrying for the National Rifle Association. Stand Your Ground laws, an invitation to no-fault use of guns, are among the work of ALEC.
The council, known as ALEC, has since become better known, with news organizations alerting the public to the damage it has caused: voter ID laws that marginalize minorities and the elderly, antiunion bills that hurt the middle class and the dismantling of protective environmental regulations.
... The corporations abandoning ALEC aren’t explicitly citing the Stand Your Ground statutes as the reason for their decision. But many joined the group for narrower reasons, like fighting taxes on soda or snacks, and clearly have little interest in voter ID requirements or the N.R.A.’s vision of a society where anyone can fire a concealed weapon at the slightest hint of a threat.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, ALEC bemoaned the opposition it is facing and claimed it is only interested in job creation, government accountability and pro-business policies. It makes no mention of its role in pushing a law that police departments believe is increasing gun violence and deaths. That’s probably because big business is beginning to realize the Stand Your Ground laws are indefensible.
I'd say that working strenuously to prevent universal health care and to kill environmental regulation are, in the long run, more damaging to the health of more people than even the vigilantes unloosed by Stand Your Ground laws.
UPDATE: ALEC today announced it was shutting down a task force whose specialties included looser gun laws and anti-immigrant measures. It says it's going to focus on economic issues. We'll see. Common Cause comments:
Amid intense public scrutiny and the departure of at least 10 major corporate members, the American Legislative Exchange Council this morning announced the closing of a task force that helped create some of its most damaging legislation, including bills to restrict voting, “Stand Your Ground” gun laws and anti-immigrant measures.
“The American public has wised up to ALEC’s misguided and secretive attempts to co-opt state legislators for corporate profit,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “In folding its Public Safety and Elections Task Force, ALEC is abandoning under pressure the most controversial part of its agenda; that’s an important victory for the American public.”
Many Americans have learned about ALEC in recent weeks through news stories detailing its role in the proliferation of “Stand Your Ground” laws similar to the Florida statute at issue in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
But bad laws advanced by the shuttered ALEC task force remain on the books across the country, and ALEC continues to support legislation that weakens clean air and clean water regulations, undermines public schools and infringes on the bargaining rights or workers.
Last week 10 companies, including Coca Cola, McDonalds, Wendy’s, Mars, and Kraft Foods, severed ties with ALEC under increased media and public scrutiny.