For Immediate Release
April 18, 2012
Panic at American Legislative Exchange Council as nationwide campaign gains steam
Maine's own ALEC members receive 1,000 emails calling on them to quit the group
Portland, ME - The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) launched a desperate public relations campaign this week in response to the continued exodus of its major corporate donors. At least 11 backers - most recently Blue Cross Blue Shield - have now left the organization following revelations that ALEC backed "Stand Your Ground" gun laws like the one implicated in the shooting death of Florida Teen Trayvon Martin.
On Tuesday, ALEC announced that it had disbanded its 30-year-old Public Safety and Elections Task Force, which handled the organization's non-economic legislative work. It also briefed conservative bloggers on "a very aggressive campaign to really spread the word about what we actually do." In response to a New York Times editorial criticized ALEC's work, the Wall Street Journal weighed in with its own defense of the organization.
Back in Maine, ALEC Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force director Jonathan Williams spoke at a Tea Party rally in Lewiston Sunday, calling the organization's opponents "liberal bullies." On Monday, Americans for Prosperity began asking its members to send emails of support for ALEC to Maine legislators, claiming that the group "is critical to the free market in our state."
The Americans for Prosperity action came soon after Maine's Majority launched a similar campaign calling on lawmakers to sever ties with ALEC. To date, more than 1,000 Maine's Majority members have sent emails to Maine's 8 known ALEC members urging them to leave the group. This "ALEC 8" is comprised of:
- Rep. Andre Cushing (R-Hampden)
- Rep. James M. Hamper (R-Oxford)
- Rep. R. Ryan Harmon (R-Palermo)
- Sen. Brian D. Langley (R-Ellsworth)
- Sen. Debra Plowman (R-Hampden)
- Sen. Chris Rector (R-Thomaston)
- Sen. Richard Rosen (R-Bucksport)
- Sen. Mike Thibodeau (R-Winterport)
Maine's Majority has yet to receive any response.
"For far too long, ALEC and its corporate backers have pushed policy in Maine which benefits big business at the expense of our state's hardworking families," said Maine's Majority director Chris Korzen. "When are Maine's ALEC members going to answer for the their continued involvement in this organization?"
Maine's Majority's call for Maine legislators to sever ties with ALEC helped to launch a national campaign. The Nation's John Nichols wrote about Maine's Majority's campaign and activists in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Florida and several other states have launched similar efforts.