June 13, 2012

ALEC Wants Lobbyists (And You) To Help Rearrange The Deck Chairs On The Titanic

ALEC Wants Lobbyists (And You) To Help Rearrange The Deck Chairs On The TitanicThe American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the corporate front group responsible for pushing voter ID and Stand Your Ground laws in states across the country, is on the run. Nearly two dozen major corporations (including Johnson & Johnson, yesterday) have been persuaded to cut ties with ALEC.

ALEC is fighting back — and the group recently launched a website to encourage not just people, but powerful corporations and lawmakers, to stand with them.

IStandWithALEC.com is apparently a project of Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). The site also lists the Braynard Group as having “designed and develop” the website. This consulting firm is based in Arlington, Virginia; its online portfolio lists other astroturf projects it has worked on. In the past, it’s worked for corporate fronts like the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity and a “Stop eTaxes” website dedicated to protecting the Amazon tax loophole. Curiously, it has also worked for the Immigration Policy Center, which advocates for more lenient immigration policies, certainly not in line with the conservative ideology ALEC espouses.

Norquist, of course, is nothing but a K Street shill. He once had his own federally registered lobbying firm that represented corrupt GSE Fannie Mae; now he simply asks corporations to pay him in exchange for classifying their federal subsidies as “tax cuts.” During the Jack Abramoff investigation, Norquist was exposed for selling support from his front groups to corporations. In one damning e-mail, Norquist is promised $50,000 dollars in exchange for providing his Americans for Tax Reform support to one of Abramoff’s clients. How much is ALEC paying Norquist now for cover? We may never know.

IStandWithALEC.com will let you sign a letter to its corporate members (interestingly, the group still won’t reveal precisely which corporations are members — instead addressing the letter to “[Decision Maker]” and “ALEC Private Enterprise Members”), sign a letter to state legislators (again not telling  you who they might be), and spreading the word with social media.

ALEC’s Director of External Relations Caitlyn Korb already admitted that her organization wasn’t quite as hip to social media as its critics (including us) and this new, much-delayed campaign shows that. The #IStandWithALEC hashtag has been used in only nine tweets in the week since the campaign appeared to have launched.

And those tweets will likely soon be eclipsed by ALEC’s detractors. A spoof IStandWithALEC site has already emerged, encouraging Americans to stand with actor Alec Baldwin, instead of the corporate front group.

(Full disclosure: The spoof site was created by us.)