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ALEC’s Stand Your Ground Laws Created Culture Of Shoot-First Vigilantism

In early October, a Florida state senator introduced legislation to repeal the state’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law allowing individuals to use deadly force in self-defense outside their homes. Florida was the first state to enact such a measure, and in the 18 years since its passage, studies have shown that more Floridians are dying because of it. “The data is clear: homicide rates and gun deaths are higher where these discriminatory, dangerous policies are on the books,” Sen. Shevrin Jones (D-34), the bill’s sponsor, told the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD).  What’s less widely known is the pivotal role the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has played in ensuring the widespread adoption of such laws.

ALEC’s Funding Revealed

For years, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has claimed to be “committed to transparency”—yet it refuses to disclose its donors on its website. When asked about this, ALEC’s CEO Lisa Nelson told the press that donor information is available in tax filings published on its website. But a review of those filings shows that although the organization’s Schedule B does include donation amounts, all donors’ names are redacted.So who funds ALEC? A review of hundreds of tax filings by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has uncovered 39%—or $16.4 million—of the $41.7 million ALEC received in contributions between 2017 and 2021. Most 2022 IRS filings are not yet publicly available.

Ethics Commission Votes To Subpoena ALEC Over Its Campaign Software Scheme

The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices voted 3-2 today to subpoena the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for information about its provision of sophisticated campaign software to its legislative members. The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission last July alleging that ALEC’s gift of valuable voter management software, developed by Republican operatives and linked to the Republican National Committee’s voter database, constituted an illegal and unreported in-kind campaign contribution. CMD also filed an IRS whistleblower complaint against ALEC over the controversial program, valued at as much as $6 million per election cycle.

ALEC Leaders Boast About Anti-Abortion, Anti-Trans Bills

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a pay-to-play network of conservative state lawmakers and business lobbyists that writes model legislation, claims that it no longer works on social policy. But videos of ALEC-led events, obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), tell a very different story. At the 40th anniversary meeting of the Council for National Policy (CNP) in May, ALEC leaders boasted about their extensive efforts to advance state legislation to severely restrict access to abortion and limit the rights of trans students, as well as voter suppression bills. CNP is a secretive network of far-right Christian political figures and donors that works behind the scenes to influence Washington. “We’ve had a history of working on other issues like gun rights and social issues and things like that, which has not ended well for ALEC,” said CEO Lisa Nelson at a “Saving American Through the States” action session at the group’s meeting.

ALEC Meeting Queues Up The GOP’s Culture Wars

While Trump is no longer in office, ALEC members still wearing their MAGA hats can participate in Trump-themed trainings such as, “Achieving and Using Political Power: How You Implement an America First Agenda,” and “Writing the History of the Future: Messaging Strategies to Reclaim States’ Power & American Exceptionalism.” The Annual Meeting kicked off on Monday with an “exclusive, invitation-only academy” for state lawmakers with the dark money voter suppression group the Honest Elections Project, where ALEC politicians were “to discuss the implementation of new election legislation” with three secretaries of state, among other “fun and educational” events, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reported.

The Obscure Foundation Funding ‘Critical Race Theory’ Hysteria

Critical Race Theory (CRT), once a little-known academic concept, is now at the center of the national political discussion. CRT is discussed incessantly on Fox News. It is featured in campaign advertisements. And legislation banning it is advancing in statehouses around the country. This didn't happen on its own. Rather, there is a constellation of non-profit groups and media outlets that are systematically injecting CRT into our politics. In 2020, most people had never heard of CRT. In 2021, a chorus of voices on the right insists it is an existential threat to the country. A Popular Information investigation reveals that many of the entities behind the CRT panic share a common funding source: The Thomas W. Smith Foundation.

More States Enter The Race To Criminalize Protest

It was April 1, and Jestin Dupree had driven more than 400 miles from the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in northeastern Montana to the state’s capital, Helena, to testify against legislation that could be used to jail environmental protesters. For years, his tribe had been protesting the Keystone XL pipeline, which was to cross the Missouri River, their main source of water. Their efforts seemed to be vindicated when the project was cancelled by President Joe Biden during his first day in office. Montana’s new legislation, however, would allow environmental protesters to be jailed for up to 18 months if they obstruct operations at oil and gas facilities — and up to 30 years if they damage equipment. It seemed to be a direct rebuke to the Indigenous activism that had helped stop Keystone XL.

Shareholders Demand Dominion Energy Clean Up Its Reporting

Shareholders have submitted a resolution calling on Dominion Energy to fully disclose its lobbying efforts. The resolution will be voted on Wednesday morning at Dominion’s annual meeting.  When Dominion released a statement encouraging shareholders to oppose the resolution, the shareholders responded with a 12 page memo explaining why they should vote yes on Item #4 Dominion’s Report on Lobbying. The memo includes a deep dive into Dominion’s involvement with organizations associated with fraud, corruption and the recent rally before the insurrection attempt on January 6 at the US Capitol Building. From the memo: “Proponents believe Dominion’s trade associations’ activities are jeopardizing our Company’s reputation.

ALEC Leading Right-Wing Campaign To Reopen The Economy

Documents obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) show that a powerful corporate lobby front group, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is playing a leading role in the right-wing movement to push for early reopening of the economy amidst the coronavirus pandemic that has cost the United States 61,680 lives to date. ALEC is a corporate pay-to-play operation where legislators and corporate lobbyists vote behind closed doors to adopt model legislation on a broad range of public policy issues. At a time when many hard-hit states and medical experts are lamenting the lack of federal leadership in dealing with the health crisis, the ALEC documents call for action to “bring the economy back to life through a free market approach that gets big government out of the way.”

Workers May Have Just Killed Missouri’s Right to Work Law

By Jeff Schuhrke for In These Times. Missouri - In a badly needed victory for organized labor, a coalition of workers’ rights groups in Missouri is poised to halt a devastating new anti-union law from taking effect later this month. The deceptively named “right-to-work” (RTW) legislation—quickly passed and signed into law this February by Missouri’s new Republican governor, Eric Greitens—would prohibit unions in private sector workplaces from automatically collecting dues from the workers they are legally required to represent. Designed to decimate unions by cutting off their financial resources, RTW laws are currently in place in 27 other states. Though the law is set to take effect on August 28, the pro-union We Are Missouri coalition, led by the Missouri AFL-CIO, says it has collected enough signatures from voters to call for a state-wide referendum in November 2018 that could nullify the legislation.

Hundreds Protest Betsy DeVos Ahead Of ALEC Speech In Denver

By Alexandra Rosenmann for AlterNet - The ALEC meeting comes just a week after the education secretary's talks with men's rights activists. Hundreds of protesters descended on the Colorado Statehouse on Wednesday, one day ahead of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' speech at the annual American Legislative Exchange Council meeting in Denver. The meeting comes just a week after the education secretary's controversial talks on Title IX guidelines with so-called men's rights activists and other skeptics of the federal law that has consistently protected victims of campus sexual assault. “My primary concern is DeVos’ commitment to protecting sexual assault perpetrators and those accused of sexual assault,” University of Denver doctoral student Alicia Mountain told the Denver Post at the rally. Meanwhile, Suzanne Ethredge, president of the local teacher's union, remained wary of the secretary's long-term preference for school choice.

FCC Commissioner Tells ALEC To Help Squash Net Neutrality.

By Bruce Kushnick for The Huffington Post - But when the second Republican FCC Commissioner, Michael O’Rielly, speaks at ALEC’s (American Legislative Exchange Council) Communications & Technology Task Force and calls on the group to take actions to help the FCC take down Net Neutrality and the speech is listed as business as usual at the FCC—we know that the FCC is captured. (I note that in 2013 then-commissioner Pai spoke to the same ALEC group.) I just posted an article from 2013 that outlines how a Petition filed by AT&T, which was based on ‘model legislation’ created by ALEC, is now the game plan for the current FCC in 2017. The plan is to remove all regulations, all obligations and consumer protections so that the corporations can optimize profits. The FCC’s plans are couched in twisted word speech, calling for “Internet freedom” yet we find that it is just freedom for the large corporations, the large phone and cable companies – AT&T, Verizon, Centurylink and the cable companies, who are all members of ALEC, as far as we can tell. And it is clear that this FCC is just out of control. Talk about being biased, the FCC’s own press release and fact sheet called: “What Capitol Hill Is Saying About Restore Internet Freedom Proposal”

Stop One Of The Biggest Mega-Mergers In History

By Candace Clement for Free Press - AT&T is an enormous media, telecom and internet gatekeeper with a horrible track record of overcharging you, limiting your choices and spying on you. It’s still fighting Net Neutrality. It helps the government spy on people by turning over its customer records to the NSA. It tries to stop communities from building their own broadband networks.

AARP To Drop Membership To Right-Wing Lobby Group ALEC

By Steven Rosenfeld for AlterNet - Progressives dedicated to protecting safety nets for seniors have pressured AARP, formerly the American Association of Retired People, to drop its dues-paying membership at ALEC, the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council, whose work includes drafting and promoting bills that would undermine and privatize Social Security and Medicare. “After hearing from many of you, we’ve decided not to renew our membership to ALEC,” said a post on AARP’s Facebook page Friday.

ALEC Watchdog: Jane Carter Trying To Rewrite The Constitution

By Bill Raden in Capital and Main - As lobbyists and state legislators gathered at San Diego’s Grand Hyatt resort last week for the three-day annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the delegates seemed to barely glance at the several dozen exhibitor tables that made up a sort of carnival sideshow of right-wing groups outside the hotel’s second-floor warren of meeting rooms. Convention attendees had more pressing concerns. Namely, turning this year’s corporate wish list into the infamous boilerplate bills known as “model laws” that would aspire to undermine things like health and environmental standards, worker rights, campaign-spending limits and implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) across the 50 states. Many of the exhibitor booths were occupied by familiar ALEC friends, such as the collection of extreme-right think tanks known as the State Policy Network, which churns out studies designed to grease the model laws’ passage out of statehouse committees.
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