Over at The Guardian, they’ve got a major scoop about our pals at the far-right-wingnut American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and their money and membership woes following the Trayvon Martin murder.
ALEC was embroiled in the controversy surrounding Florida’s 2005 “stand-your-ground” law under which George Zimmerman, the neighbourhood watch volunteer who shot and killed the 17-year-old Martin, initially claimed self-defence. The Florida law was picked up by ALEC, and, working in partnership with the National Rifle Association, used as a template for one of its “model bills”, which was then taken up by other states across the country.
The Guardian has learned that by ALEC’s own reckoning the network has lost almost 400 state legislators from its membership over the past two years, as well as more than 60 corporations that form the core of its funding. In the first six months of this year it suffered a hole in its budget of more than a third of its projected income.
The Guardian got a hold of internal ALEC documents from an August 2013 board meeting, in which they tried to figure out how to “avert a looming funding crisis by appealing to major donors that have abandoned it over the past two years following criticism of its policy on gun laws.” One of their strategies is what they call the “Prodigal Son Project” – an effort to win back some of the “more than 40 lapsed corporate members” who have ditched ALEC since February 2012. To accomplish this goal, ALEC tasks some of its biggest muckety-mucks – in other words, the biggest corporate crony capitalists – in the states. Here in Virginia, the dubious “honors” go to…our fine House Speaker Bill “ALEC” Howell (along with far-right-wing State Senator Ralph K. Smith). Yes, this is the same Bill Howell who attacked ProgressVA Executive Director Anna Scholl as only understanding “little” words, after ProgressVA tore ALEC apart for a laughable “report card” ALEC issued, “marking Virginia’s progress in instituting pro-corporate economic policies.” Gotta love it.
P.S. By the way, in those ALEC documents, it lists the number of state legislature members who belong to ALEC. In the case of Virginia, it’s 31 out of 140, or 22%. Every one of those corporate hacks richly deserves to be defeated, whether you’re a progressive, a libertarian, or someone who believes in good government.
P.P.S. Does anyone else find it fascinating that it took a British newspaper to find this stuff out? Hello U.S. journalists?