ALEC Drops Hot-Button Work From Agenda

Blogging the Beltway: But unimpressed activists call the conservative group's move a "PR stunt."

Mladen Antonov/AFP
Mladen Antonov/AFP

On Tuesday the American Legislative Exchange Council — a conservative organization that has advanced the national spread of voter-ID and “Stand your ground” laws — made a surprising announcement. The group is shutting down its Public Safety and Elections task force, which focused on those controversial pieces of legislation.

“We are eliminating the ALEC Public Safety and Elections task force that dealt with non-economic issues, and reinvesting these resources in the task forces that focus on the economy,” said Indiana state Rep. David Frizzell, ALEC national chairman, in a statement. “The remaining budgetary and economic issues will be reassigned.”

The news came just two weeks after and other liberal activist groups began applying pressure to the dozens of corporations that fund ALEC — and after 10 companies, including Coca-Cola, Kraft, McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Blue Cross Blue Shield — subsequently ended their relationship with the group. But isn’t celebrating the announcement.

Instead the activist group sees this move as an ALEC publicity stunt to divert attention from its legislative agenda, and one that does little when compared with the dozens of states that have already passed ALEC’s bills into law. The Root spoke with’s executive director, Rashad Robinson, about ALEC’s ongoing work and what he really wants to see the organization do.

The Root: ALEC’s announcement could, ostensibly, be hailed as a progressive victory, but ColorOfChange is not impressed. Why not?

Rashad Robinson: Because essentially what ALEC has done is this: They’ve gone out into the water, thrown some oil in it and now they’re saying that they won’t spill any more oil — but they’re not telling us how they’re going to clean it up. Millions of Americans will be dealing with discriminatory voter-ID laws and “Stand your ground” laws brought to us by ALEC, with the support of major corporations. And ALEC and these corporations are offering no solutions to dealing with them.

TR: What kinds of solutions would you recommend?

RR: Have them work to overturn these laws. If these laws are indefensible — they’re no longer going to defend them — and if they truly want to make a change, then they’d work so that Americans are not continuing to deal with these laws. And this is an organization that has worked for years to suppress black people’s vote and make our communities less safe — we have no reason to trust that there won’t be real harm coming from anything that they try to push.

TR: So is ColorOfChange’s campaign against corporations that financially support ALEC still going on?