Political Animal


April 13, 2012 8:54 AM Out of the Shadows, ALEC Loses Altitude

By Ed Kilgore

Some good news for a Friday 13: the list of donors withdrawing support from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) continues to grow, with candy-maker Mars joining burger giant Wendy’s, its rival McDonald’s, along with beverage purveyors Coca-Cola and Pepsi Co, plus Kraft, Intuit and the Gates Foundation.

As important as the financial hits undoubtedly are, the even more important development is the emergence of ALEC from the shadows, where it has always flourished. In state legislative circles, its influence has long been legendary, and not just among Republicans (as a tax-exempt organization, ALEC has always been extremely careful about getting at least smattering of Democratic legislators to show up at its typically swank events, though that was a lot easier back in the days when overtly conservative Democrats walked tall in southern state legislatures). But mentions of ALEC inside the Beltway drew blank stares until very recently. And the legislators who championed ALEC-written cookie-cutter bills in most states were able to get away with pretending they were the actual authors.

All that has changed now, for good, and for the better.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Ron Byers on April 13, 2012 9:14 AM:

    It is good to see the story getting traction. The more light we all shine on those kochroaches the better. Watch them scurry to the cracks.

  • sick-n-effn-tired. on April 13, 2012 9:23 AM:

    Well nice but guess what, not much will change.
    Like a bad strain of flu it will mutate and go underground .
    There will still be a lot of Kochsucker money to go around ensuring that the legislators do their bidding .

    We are in fact owned.

  • boatboy_srq on April 13, 2012 9:28 AM:

    ALEC isn't finished by a long shot, but at least it's exposed.

    We should be watching for ALEC to wither - and for whatever is to become ALEC 2.0 to develop even more quietly and camouflaged than its predecessor.

  • Mudge on April 13, 2012 9:36 AM:

    The Shadow Government. Work hard to move power to the states and control the state legislatures (see Charles Pierce's Laboratories of Democracy series).

    Some day someone will write a definitive book on this and hurt lots of feelies..

  • berttheclock on April 13, 2012 9:38 AM:

    Thank you, Ed, thank you for this thread. For some reason, Steve Benen would never present any thread about this insidious group and the power of their tentacles into state legislatures around this nation. Anti-Abortion, Stand Your Ground laws, breakup of teachers and other government workers unions are just some of their agendas force fed to wined and dined legislators. So much has been concentrated on DC by ever so many political writers, that they miss the huge story about what has been happening in the state legislative bodies. Reagan used to comment about people voting with their feet if they did not like particular laws in a state. With ALEC, it is becoming much harder to find states left which have not been infected by ALEC.

  • Kathryn on April 13, 2012 9:44 AM:

    Don't miss video of ProgressVa's director respectfully questioning Bill Howell, GOP Speaker of the House (Va.). Howell resorts to insulting her when he can't refute her article which Howell says is inaccurate but which is not. Ms. Scholl more than holds her own.

  • 2Manchu on April 13, 2012 9:55 AM:

    The sad part of all this is that it had to take the killing of a young man for this monstronsity of an organization to finally come out of the shadows.

  • SadOldVet on April 13, 2012 10:09 AM:

    I am simply amazed. Ed must be having an exceptionally high energy day today. Only 10 AM and Ed already has one blog posted.

    Steve Benen used to be referred to as the hardest worker in the blogosphere. Maybe we could give Ed a nickname of The hardliest worker in the blogosphere.
    re berttheclock...

    At the Maddow Blog, Benen has posted some about ALEC. Coverage of ALEC did not start with Ed Kilgore and thanking him with his "Johnny-Come-Lately" "Follow-The-Crowd" posting about ALEC is unwarranted.

    [Over the past week or so I have noticed that you are more and more unhappy with Ed's work. This makes me wonder why you would choose to be the first one in the door every morning, when it makes you so dyspeptic? Have you considered starting your own blog and showing the piker we hired how it ought to be done? --Mod]

  • zandru on April 13, 2012 10:11 AM:

    2Manchu asserts that "it had to take the killing of a young man" to bring ALEC to public attention.

    Not true. ALEC's role in voter disenfranchisement has been big news for at least a year now. The League of Women Voters has specifically targetted ALEC. I'm sure that other groups such as the ACLU and Common Cause have done likewise. ALEC has been big news on MSNBC and lefty talk radio for at least the last year or so.

    Perhaps your argument was that leftists don't represent "the public." Sadly, you may be correct. But with the current public face of the "G"OP these days, soon everyone with a brain or conscience will be a "leftist."

  • Anonymous on April 13, 2012 10:20 AM:

    I would bet a careful analysis wnould show that ALEC-awareness got a significat Krugman bump from his recent column. The dude is a national treasurer.

  • berttheclock on April 13, 2012 10:26 AM:

    @SadOldVet, glad to hear Benen, finally, put up threads about ALEC. I, only, asked him on three separate occasions to address the ALEC issue, to no avail. I even corresponded with Blue Girl to ask if she would help to put some fire under Benen to post. So, as far as I am concerned, Benen is late to the party. It must have been Rachael's doing to talk him into posting about this filth.

  • SadOldVet on April 13, 2012 10:52 AM:

    re berttheclock...

    To an extent, I am surprised that GE did not squash any and all discussions of ALEC on NBC & MSNBC. GE is one among the many big recognizable names who have NOT STOPPED participating and financing ALEC.

  • Steve on April 13, 2012 10:54 AM:

    I want to see Chris Christie pay a political price for claiming a few weeks ago he had never heard of ALEC. It was a blatant lie, but with ALEC becoming more prominent in the public consciousness, maybe it will become a lie people actually care about.

  • Diane Rodriguez on April 13, 2012 11:01 AM:

    In re SadOldVet. Wow Moderator. I didn't know that all comments had to pay homage to Kilgore. "first one in the door" petty oops I mean "pretty" snarky.

    [Homages not necessary. But the constant carping got old a week ago.]

  • Ron Byers on April 13, 2012 11:35 AM:

    As much as I like Benen, Ed has been infinitely better when it comes to the crappy legislation ALEC is pushing at the state level. We need to develop information channels focusing on the antics of our state legislatures and governors. The price of freedom is eternal vigilence.

  • Hedda Peraz on April 13, 2012 11:44 AM:

    Kilgore Carping may feel good, but it is pointless.
    (He is is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, and a Special Correspondent for The New Republic.)
    Ed is full time, we are occasional drop ins.

  • R on April 13, 2012 11:49 AM:

    I'm glad to be able to read both Steve Benen and Ed Kilgore now. The commenters here are better, of course! Now can we get back to the actual news rather than insulting one another?

  • ET on April 13, 2012 11:51 AM:

    I don't sit in on meetings where corporations decide with PAC and lobbying groups they give money to, but in the case of ALEC I wonder if some of them really had a clue as to what exactly ALEC did? I assume there was a reason that was sold to the companies and I assumed that was tailored to each, but were they told about the totality of what ALEC did. Did they know about the stuff other than what they were sold on? Because I can't figure out why a big multinational not totally controlled by a partisan individual/family who had an agenda that he/she/they could use the company for, would bother giving to a group like ALEC.

  • KarenJG on April 13, 2012 12:09 PM:

    OT -

    Mod, I agree, the carping is wearing. I tend to skim certain posters' comments for any "not carping" and take what seems worth while and leave the rest for others to address.

    I like Benen. I like Kilgore. They're different people with different viewpoints, and that's all to the good. Uniformity is boring, IMHO. And, I don't get up till 10 AM (second shift here!) so Kilgore's schedule is fine with me.

  • SadOldVet on April 13, 2012 12:16 PM:

    re mod...

    Dyspeptic is a cute word, but a more accurate description for me would be severely disappointed.

    re Hedda...

    Just because something has 'progressive' in their name does not make them actually progressive. Sometimes the 'centrists' like to disguise themselves. If you read the article on the Progressive Policy Institute they seem more DLC/DINO/'centrist' than progressive.

    re mod...

    I followed Steve Benen to Political Animal and I follow him now at The Maddow Blog. I regularly read The Washington Monthly and believe that it is a very good publication. I am not yet ready to 'give up' on the Political Animal, but if you believe you have too many readers and commenters I will take that into consideration.

    I do not look for publications or blogs to 'mirror' my perspectives. I do have animus toward the DLC, Billy Bob Clinton, Harold Ford, and all of the other triangulating 'centrist' who contributed heavily to the mess that our country is in. Yes, I have read Ed's 'explanation' of his background as a DLC/DINO toady for Harold Ford and I am not impressed.

    That Ed Kilgore showed his DLC 'centrist' background and beliefs in accepting the repuknican position that social security is an entitlement and needs to be 'on the table' for cutting to save our country from its deficits finalized my interpretations of 'where Ed is coming from idealogolically'.

    I am not yet ready to give up on The Political Animal. I especially like several of the weekend substitutes and I have written to Paul Glastris explaining to him why I believe that The Washington Post would be much better served with a more progressive blogger.

  • Ron Byers on April 13, 2012 12:31 PM:

    SadOldVet, I agree the Washington Post would be much better served with a more progressive blogger, but what do you expect from a Republican rag.

  • SadOldVet on April 13, 2012 12:40 PM:

    re Ron Byers...

    Meant 'Monthly' in both references. As for the Washington Post, Tom Toles and Eugene Robinson should find respectable employers and then they should level the WaPost offices.

    If any and all think it is bad now, stay tuned...

    I am the IT department for a CPA firm and I have had excessive time for the last couple weeks waiting for the tax season to get over. I get up about 3:30-4:00 AM Eastern time each morning. In 48 days, I am retiring and I am going to have even more time to 'carp'.

    I do plan on getting involved in one or more political campaigns this summer and fall. My black, muslim Congress-Critter is probably not going to be in jeopardy so I will be looking for where I can make a difference. As Andre Carson is about the only progressive democrat in the state of Indiana, I will not waste time working for any of the state party supported DINOs.

    Maybe a trip to Mass. to volunteer for Elizabeth Warren... I am open to suggestions about where I can go, but please keep them relatively clean.

  • Steve on April 13, 2012 12:43 PM:

    We're all just blog commentors here, and I respect SOV's point of view, but I think it's fair to say that reading the comments becomes tiresome if someone is grinding the same axe in response to every post. This remains true even if there are perfectly valid reasons for grinding that axe.

  • Trinity on April 13, 2012 1:02 PM:

    I read comments because I want to hear responses to the actual post content. All others with axes to grind should respectfully do it elsewhere. Can we start and Open Thread Bitching Party for those persons? Some of us enjoy discussion of the actual post content. Thank you.

  • KarenJG on April 13, 2012 1:33 PM:

    Second Trinity's "Bitchin' Party Thread"! I'll bring the beer and pretzels.

    But, to post on the actual post content (per Trinity's not-so-subtle reminder to get off the off topic stuff), ALEC can't be exposed fast enough or widely enough, as far as I'm concerned, but I agree with boatboy_srq - although I think the PTB will leave ALEC in existence as a meaningless "target" and will move the "real" work to an undisclosed location.

  • Bob/So/Cal on April 13, 2012 2:16 PM:

    Is it possible the three hour time difference between West Coast Ed K. and East Coast Wash. Monthly might have something to with a 10:00 AM post? 10:00 AM Pacific Time = 10:00AM East Coast time....:)erm

  • Anonymous on April 13, 2012 2:18 PM:

    "Only 10 AM and Ed already has one blog posted."

    I generally figure that Ed takes a little longer to get started in the mornings because he's, you know, on the West Coast.