From an editorial Aug. 14 in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Apparently the corporate warlords who fund the American Legislative Exchange Counsel are a little weak in the knees.
How else to explain their freakout last week at their annual meeting at Chicagos posh Palmer House Hilton after U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., dared to ask a few ALEC members their views on stand your ground laws?
On Aug. 6, Mr. Durbin sent a letter to about 300 current or former corporate members of ALEC to ask a couple of simple questions. The assistant minority leader wanted to know whether the organization or corporation was still a supporter of ALEC and whether they backed stand your ground laws.
In September, Mr. Durbin plans to convene a subcommittee hearing to study such laws in light of the Florida verdict acquitting George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin. Inasmuch as ALECs support was critical to Floridas 2005 decision to pass the nations first stand-your-ground law, it seems reasonable to ask ALECs members and funders whether the Trayvon Martin case changed their minds.
The bad publicity ALEC received after an unarmed Mr. Martin was shot dead by Mr. Zimmerman led many corporations to withdraw their support for ALEC. The group creates cookie-cutter legislation with the primary goal of enriching the corporate bottom line. Dozens of companies like Express Scripts and Wells Fargo and Wendys and Coca-Cola bailed on ALEC.
So isnt it reasonable for Mr. Durbin to find out which companies are still standing their ground on stand your ground?
No, responded ALEC. Its intimidation.
Thats right, a U.S. senator daring to ask an opinion of a corporation or advocacy organization is political intimidation, according to the statement ALEC put out last week. The group followed it with a breathlessly written letter on Monday defending the organizations right to assemble (which nobody was questioning).
This is what makes this war of words so interesting. The real purpose of ALEC is to allow corporations and wealthy benefactors to avoid state ethics disclosure laws. ALEC pretends its a nonprofit charity when really its a highly sophisticated lobbying organization that allows corporations to launder their donations without showing taxpayers which lawmakers they are buying and selling.
Its perfectly responsible for Mr. Durbin to send fact-finding letters before holding a hearing on whether its a good idea to have laws that allow unarmed people to be gunned down when armed people get frightened.
In fact, about 20 recipients of his letter have already written back to let them know they do not support stand your ground laws.
Weve not received any who said they supported stand your ground laws, Mr. Durbin said.
Maybe thats what ALEC is afraid of.
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