ALEC Feels The Heat From Anti-Corporate Campaigns


 

 

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color:#555555″>More than a hundred activists welcomed ALEC for the opening of its five-day meeting with a “Parade of Empty Plates.” They surrounded the hotel, 
banging pots and panslocal media coverage 

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“Corporations are so entrenched in government that many legislators think that this is the way it’s done,” explained Cordray when we spoke by phone. “They have no shame. If people knew this was happening in our democracy, they wouldn’t be happy.” 

report 

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color:#555555″> — who, incidentally, also founded the Heritage Foundation and Moral Majority — and wields undeniable influence in state legislatures and governors’ mansions around the country. For almost 40 years, ALEC has cultivated relationships among state lawmakers by sending “
model legislation
 

accounthis expulsionannual summit 

anti-union budget proposalsrevealedFollowing the Madison occupation, activists in Cleveland stumbled across Professor Cronon’s blog and were inspired to protest an upcoming ALEC meeting in their hometown.  (CMD) reporter Sara Jerving offers details of that April 2011 protest and others as she contextualizes the mounting pressure directed against ALEC. Two months later, thanks to a whistleblower, CMD launched the ALEC Exposed project, and it became a turning point. Since then, ALEC has no longer been able to promote its model bills without scrutiny. 

Arizona’s SB 1070Stand Your Ground lawsdistanced itself fromVoter ID lawsPennsylvania Act 13Wisconsin’s anti-unionism mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:#555555″> was one of the organizations that benefited from the treasure trove of data published by ALEC Exposed, which showed that the voter ID laws the group had been opposing derived from model legislation drafted by ALEC. With more than 800,000 black Americans in its membership, Color of Change saw that the discriminatory laws were achieving partisan results and disenfranchising communities of color. As Color of Change learned more about ALEC, it recognized the need to educate its members and the broader public about ALEC’s agenda. It also learned, according to Executive Director Rashad Robinson, that 98 percent of ALEC’s funding came from its corporate members.

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color:#555555″>These corporations come to black folks for their services, to buy their products. They are spending a lot of money to hone their relationship with black consumers. We made it clear to companies that this type of investment could be for naught.
 

 

The strategy has been working. Since the Color of Change campaign began — assisted by other partners and allies such as  and People for the American Way — 30 corporations have dropped their ALEC membership, including Best Buy, Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, Walmart, Amazon, McDonald’s and MillerCoors. Well over 100,000 people have signed online petitions, with thousands of citizens also calling corporate offices asking them to withdraw from ALEC. In April, ALEC hired the public relations firm Edelman to address the dwindling corporate membership,  that it was the victim of “a well-funded, expertly coordinated intimidation campaign.”

Furthermore, in April 2012, the progressive organization Common Cause filed a complaint with the IRS Tax Whistleblower Office alleging that ALEC has violated the terms of its 501(c)3 status.

In a Common Cause press release announcing the complaint, President Bob Edgar called ALEC “a corporate lobby front group masquerading as a public charity.” Edgar continued: 

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color:#555555″>If federal authorities revoke ALEC’s tax-exempt status, it could prove to be a significant blow. But it is already becoming harder and harder for ALEC to work in the shadows. When ALEC members meet now, they draw a crowd demanding transparency and the removal of corporate money from American democracy. While many meetings remain private, the growing scrutiny ALEC attracts is making it more difficult for it to exert influence in public.

"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:
"Times New Roman";color:#555555″>. Teach-ins, community-building events and protests also occurred around the city as part of the ALEC Welcoming Committee, including a public moment of silence, organized by
Peaceful Uprising
Tim DeChristopher’s mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:#555555″>imprisonment.

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color:#555555″>Why it’s working
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color:#555555″>One way of understanding the success of the campaign against ALEC is through Bill Moyer’s 
theory mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:#555555″>Translating information into action — particularly the kind of action that wields real influence on power-holders — is a challenging task for progressive organizations.

The success of the strategies used by Color of Change and Common Cause depend on an educated populace that will exert pressure on decision-makers. The Color of Change campaign, in particular, has been successful because it found a way to communicate its people-power potential to the corporate funders of ALEC in very clear terms: The model legislation that the organization you belong to is not valued by our constituency; if you value our purchasing power, then you have to decide whether it’s worth continuing your membership with ALEC. 

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"Times New Roman";color:#555555″> serving such interests. But, at this juncture, the fight against ALEC shows that when people organize and mobilize strategically, they can win.

 

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