The extremist American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has announced it is disbanding its task force that developed and pushed the rash of voter suppression and “stand your ground ” laws passed in recent years by Republican-controlled state legislatures. But don't believe that ALEC is backing off its attacks on workers, their wages and their unions. Meanwhile, the group continues to lose key members, with two more major companies severing ties with the right-wing group.
Although groups have been fighting ALEC’s radical agenda for some, ALEC’s involvement with the “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida, now at the center of the Trayvon Martin killing in Florida, sharply focused the spotlight the ALEC. So far, 10 large corporations have dropped their ALEC memberships.
ALEC claims it is disbanding its Public Safety and Elections Task Force to concentrate on “free market” and economic issues. But writes The Nation’s John Nichols:
The disbanding of the “Public Safety and Elections” task force looks in every sense to be a desperate attempt to slow an exodus of high-profile corporations from the group’s membership roll. It cannot be seen as anything other than a response to the pressure the group has felt as high-profile corporate members have been quitting it on an almost daily basis.
Reed Elsevier, publisher of prestigious scientific journals like Cell and The Lancet, and the owner of Lexis Nexis, dropped its ALEC membership. The big time publisher was also on the 23-member, inner circle ALEC Private Enterprise Board. Also the Arizona firm American Traffic Solutions, the pioneer in electronic traffic enforcement products such as red light and speed cameras has left ALEC.
With financial and ideological links to the extremist Koch brothers, ALEC peddles fill-in-your-state’s-name model legislation to suppress voting rights and eliminate collective bargaining. Its model bills include anti-immigrant legislation, right-wing measures on education and tax breaks for corporations.
Last summer, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), along with The Nation, issued ALEC Exposed a report that includes the more than 800 ALEC-authored model bills that have been passed or introduced by state lawmakers.
Says CMD Executive Director Lisa Graves:
ALEC’s announcement is a partial victory for the power of grassroots citizen action, but for Americans concerned about brand-name corporations underwriting ALEC’s extreme agenda to make it more difficult for American citizens to vote and to protect armed vigilantes, ALEC’s PR maneuver to try to distance itself from its record of extremism is an empty gesture unless it and the corporations that have bankrolled its operations work to repeal ALEC-backed laws.
She says that ALEC’s focus on a so-called ‘jobs’ agenda is:
a thinly disguised effort to make it more difficult for American families to hold corporations accountable when their drugs or other products kill or injure their loved ones, to strip workers of their rights to organize or even get sick pay to help care for their children when they are ill, limit the ability of the government to protect the health and safety of American families.
Read more here.