Progressives have been working to expose the American Legislative Exchange Council’s work for years, but, as we reported last week, the campaign against ALEC significantly escalated in recent weeks.
ThinkProgress’ Scott Keyes explains today’s big news:
ALEC came under intense scrutiny over the past few weeks after progressive groups like Color of Change began pressuring corporations that fund ALEC to drop their support. The Center for American Progress also released a report highlighting the right-wing group’s role in pushing voter suppression efforts around the country. As a result, 10 companies, including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Kraft, have pulled out from ALEC.
In response to the exodus of corporate funding, ALEC made the decision today to scale back its operations and focus on “economic” matters. The group released the following statement:
We are eliminating the ALEC Public Safety and Elections task force that dealt with non-economic issues, and reinvesting these resources in the task forces that focus on the economy. The remaining budgetary and economic issues will be reassigned.
This is a monumental move. The now defunct ALEC task force helped usher countless reactionary laws through state legislatures. Most prominent among these are “stand your ground” gun laws that came to the forefront in Florida after Trayvon Martin’s tragic death, and new voter ID laws that could suppress millions across the country, predominantly poor people and minorities.
Yet, while today’s announcement is an important victory, it does not change the fact that ALEC will continue to push corporate-friendly conservative economic legislation. Here is a short list of ostensibly economic measures ALEC has supported in the past:
- State union-busting measures
- Repealing minimum wage laws
- Privatizing public lands
- Repealing capital gains taxes
- Repealing the estate tax
- Fighting any efforts to address manmade climate change while touting “the many benefits of atmospheric CO2 enrichment”
- Repealing paid sick day laws around the country
- Requiring a super-majority to raise taxes
- Pushing rules that deem that kids eating rat poison is an “acceptable risk”
The NRA proved to be too far to the right even for ALEC to continue to embrace. A national gun reform group, Second Chance on Shoot First, is attempting to reform or repeal laws on the use of deadly force in 25 states that NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg called “a license to murder.”
Even after today’s announcement from ALEC, Blue Cross Blue Shield announced it would be the 11th major corporation to flee the conservative group.
IN ONE SENTENCE: While today’s victory is important, it’s also important for progressives to continue to hold ALEC accountable for the damage it’s already done and expose its efforts to co-opt lawmakers and undermine our democracy.