An attorney says liberal groups continue to make a "boogeyman" out of a free-market, limited-government group.
On its website, the Arlington, Virginia-based American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) says it "works to advance limited government, free markets and federalism at the state level through a public-private partnership of state lawmakers, members of the private sector and the general public." Several companies across various industries have cut ties with ALEC in recent months, and for various reasons.
Justin Danhof, general counsel and director of the Free Enterprise Project at the National Center for Public Policy Research, points to pressure from progressive activists.
"There's a multitude of reasons given, depending on who you ask," he begins, "but these progressive groups that have been making ALEC out to be a boogeyman have primarily objected to a few specific issues. [For one thing,] they objected to 'stand your ground' laws – and ALEC had model legislation that was related to 'stand your ground' laws. Secondly, ALEC has been attacked for their work on voter ID laws."
Progressives tend to view "stand your ground" as racist, pointing to things like the February 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida. And when it comes to voter ID, they tend to view such efforts as an attempt to block minorities from voting.
Danhof says "the irony" with the Trayvon Martin case is that Florida had its "stand your ground" law before ALEC worked on the issue. As for voter ID efforts, the NCPPR counsel says polls show people across the political spectrum – conservatives, liberals and independents – support voter ID efforts.
Recently, the oil company British Petroleum ended its relationship with ALEC. A statement from the company says: "We continually assess our engagement with policy and advocacy organizations and based on our most recent assessment, we have determined that we can effectively pursue policy matters of current interest to BP without renewing our membership with ALEC."
Still, that's not stopping progressive groups from applauding the move, based on what they call ALEC's "climate-change skepticism." Danhof says ALEC has no public position on climate change.
"ALEC's only position is to be pro-free-market," he explains. "So what does that entail? It entails not supporting state-level subsidies for alternative energy that distort the energy markets and pick winners and losers. The market should dictate winners and losers, not government policy.
"So simply by stating that belief, now the Left is attacking corporations that remain with ALEC because they are [supposedly] 'climate deniers.' But again, they have no public position."
ALEC says it has no position on climate change, something that was also reported in National Journal.