ALEC Announces It Will No Longer Focus on Social Issues

ALEC has sent out a press release announcing a very significant change in its organizational structure and goals. The headline: ALEC Sharpens Focus on Jobs, Free Markets and Growth — Announces the End of the Task Force that Dealt with Non-Economic Issues. Here’s the gist:

“We are refocusing our commitment to free-market, limited government and pro-growth principles, and have made changes internally to reflect this renewed focus.

“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….

“Our free-market, limited government, pro-growth policies are the reason ALEC enjoys the support of legislators on both sides of the aisle and in all 50 states. ALEC members are interested in solutions that put the American economy back on track. This is our mission, and it is what distinguishes us.”

Except those really aren’t the reasons ALEC was founded. The brains behind ALEC were Paul Weyrich, who also founded the Heritage Foundation and joined with Jerry Falwell to found Moral Majority, and other right wing legislators focused on social issues like Henry Hyde.

One of the first to envision fusing the conservative movement with evangelicals, he and the Rev. Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority as well. In fact, Weyrich coined the phrase the “moral majority”. No believer in majority rule, he said: “I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” His statement was a harbinger to ALEC’s later very dogged voter suppression activities. “Recently Voter ID legislation based on ALEC’s template was introduced in states across the country and passed in at least fourteen states,” under the guise of preventing election fraud.

So voter suppression was part of the organization’s charter, apparently.

ALEC’s model legislation has been instrumental in the explosive growth of the prison population. It helped pioneer “three strikes” laws, mandatory minimum sentencing laws, and “truth in sentencing” laws, which serve to abolish or curb parole so converts are made to serve the entire length of their sentence. “Because of truth-in-sentencing and other tough sentencing measures, state prison populations grew by half a million inmates in the 1990s even while crime rates fell dramatically.” In fact, one of ALEC’s benefactors, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), made an offer to cash- strapped states to buy up their prison populations at a cost savings as long as the state kept their prisons 90 percent filled to capacity.

And of course ALEC was behind the Stand Your Ground laws that have become such a big issue since the Trayvon Martin shooting.

And now ALEC is dropping this part of their agenda. This is a huge victory for anyone who care about human rights.

27 Comments on “ALEC Announces It Will No Longer Focus on Social Issues”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    This is huge! It shows that we CAN have an impact if we join together to fight the right wing nuts!

    • dakinikat says:

      There are some other areas I hope they get out of too .. so far it looks like the voter id laws and stand your ground laws. What about reproductive rights and climate change?

      That’s interesting about Jerry Farwell’s contributions. That was news to me.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I don’t know if Jerry Falwell did anything, but Weyrich helped Falwell’s organization get started.

        They say they are only focusing on economic issues from now on. Do we know for sure they were behind the anti-abortion laws? It seems like they had to be, but I don’t know for sure.

      • bostonboomer says:

        From Think Progress link in my post:

        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”

  2. bostonboomer says:

    From Color of Change:

    The following is a statement from ColorOfChange Executive Director Rashad Robinson:

    “ALEC has spent years promoting voter suppression laws, Kill at Will bills, and other policies that hurt Black and other marginalized communities. They have have done this with the support of some of America’s biggest corporations, including AT&T, Johnson & Johnson and State Farm.

    ALEC’s latest statement is nothing more than a PR stunt aimed at diverting attention from its agenda, which has done serious damage to our communities. To simply say they are stopping non-economic work doesn’t guarantee that ALEC will not continue to push laws that endanger African Americans and trample our voting rights. Shutting down one task force does not provide justice to the millions of Americans whose lives are impacted by these dangerous and discriminatory laws courtesy of ALEC and its corporate backers. It’s clear that major corporations were in bed with an institution that has worked against basic American values such as the right to vote. Now that these companies are aware of what they’ve supported, what will they do about it? If ALEC’s corporate supporters will not hold the institution accountable for the damage it has caused nationwide, then the ColorOfChange community will hold them accountable.”

    • HT says:

      Bait and Switch? A time tested marketing ploy. Alec is comprised of multi million and billion corporately paid PR groups. This is a stand back and retrench = bait and switch. Any company who remains in this group is not to be trusted – ever. JMHO of course, but over the life of me, I’ve seen this so many times before – they regroup, change their tactics and re-engage – all of which is done in secret.

      • Boo Radly says:

        Yep, HT, exactly. They will keep doing what they have been – just morph into new and improved. This is an election year.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I refuse to announce everything is hopeless and then give up, as so many people seem to want to do.

    • HT says:

      BB, I’m not suggesting that people give up, just that they be constantly vigilant because these people are like a virus, they mutate when attacked. Constant vigilance is what is needed. While there is a victory today, there may well be defeat tomorrow without constant surveillance.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Of course, but I think it’s counterproductive to just pooh pooh every success. It’s a big deal that giant corporations like Blue Cross/BlueShield, McDonalds, and Coke are dropping out of ALEC.

  3. dakinikat says:

    6 Rigged Rules Corporations Use to Dodge Taxes
    AT&T, Boeing, Citigroup, Duke Energy and Ford reported more than $20 billion of US pre-tax income last year, but didn’t pay any federal income taxes. Here’s why.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    According to this article, “Americans United for Life” is behind the anti-abortion laws passed by state legislatures.

  5. ecocatwoman says:

    I agree that on the surface this appears to be a victory. However, I agree with the statement from ColorofChange – it is merely PR. There is no way ALEC is going to give up so easily. They are vampires & sunshine kills them. So maybe a few of the vampire members either got burned or were afraid of being burned and bolted. This just allows the remaining ones – nearly all of the members – to retreat back into the darkness and continue sucking the blood of America. The surest way to kill a vampire? Cut off their heads. ALEC will only be defeated by the empowerment of the citizens – the majority of the citizens.

    Joss Whedon & Buffy taught me well.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Yes, but it’s a mistake to dismiss it as nothing. This should just cause us to fght harder.

      • ecocatwoman says:

        It’s not nothing. It shows that ALEC has been spooked, which is a good thing. It means the pressure must continue and spread. I’m heartened that ColorofChange took the stance that they did. Unfortunately their focus isn’t wide enough. More social justice groups need to step up as well, along with every union, environmental group and health care advocacy group.

        So glad you picked this up & posted it.

      • RalphB says:

        I read somewhere that the Urban League was also involved with going after ALEC so it’s not only ColorofChange. Though every social justice group should be part of it.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Quite a few groups have been fighting ALEC besides Color of Change. Check that article at The Nation that Dak posted. People for the American Way, Alec Exposed, Common Cause, and more.

    • northwestrain says:

      The sneaky creeps will propably just spawn other evil under the radar tax exempt organizations. Kormen sure made themselves look like a real charity — turns out Kormen is just another front for crooks & liars.

      Then there’s 0bowma who is the best Republican money can buy. The sneaky creeps managed to get their guy in — and the Dems can’t complain because he is one of theirs.

      This seems to be the way the elite 1% works. Put a benign name on a group — pay for some image shape shifting PR then convince the public that yellow is purple.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Breaking news from Color of Change: Blue Cross Blue Shield quits ALEC.