ALEC in the Spotlight

The once-obscure American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), that brain-child of Paul Weyrich that offers lobbyists an exceedingly efficient way to write cookie-cutter legislation eaglerly promoted by state legislators around the country, is getting some attention now, all right. Its involvement in two subjects of particular newsworthiness–the rash of laws restricting voting opportunities around the country, and the “Stand Your Ground” laws suddenly made notorious by the Trayvon Martin killing in Florida–has guaranteed ALEC’s notoriety.

So Color of Change’s drive to get messages sent to the corporations that fund and utilize ALEC shouldn’t have surprised anyone. And it scored an unusually quick victory, with Coca-Cola withdrawing its support for the organization already.

A Coke spokesman told the Washington Examiner (none too happy with the company’s “cave”):

Our involvement with ALEC was focused on efforts to oppose discriminatory food and beverage taxes, not on issues that have no direct bearing on our business. We have a long-standing policy of only taking positions on issues that impact our Company and industry.”

This is an attitude that could easily spread: hey, we just wanted to grind our own corporate ax through ALEC, but we’re not buying into the conservative movement agenda.

But in any event, ALEC’s ability to operate without much if any public scrutiny is long gone.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.