March 28, 2012

Although Bill Gates Supports Gun Control, His Foundation Gave Over $375,000 To ALEC, Front Group Promoting ‘Shoot First’ Law

Although Bill Gates Supports Gun Control, His Foundation Gave Over 5,000 To ALEC, Front Group Promoting 'Shoot First' LawThe American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has gotten some much-deserved exposure for its secretive campaigns to push harmful laws in statehouses across the country this week after it was revealed that it helped push Stand Your Ground, the law keeping Trayvon Martin’s killer free in Florida. ALEC, funded by many major corporations we all know, drafts some truly despicable model legislation including laws looking to ban living wages, cripple collective bargaining, attack voting rights, and sell off prisons.

ALEC has its hands all over public policy, including educating kids. As my colleague Zaid Jilani wrote about on Monday, it has pushed school vouchers, which “are so unpopular that they only exist in a handful of school systems nationwide” and it actively works to develop K-12 privatization legislation. So it’s kind of surprising that ALEC received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation last year. The Gates Foundation does a lot of good work in Africa and Asia. So why did ALEC merit $376,635 of the world’s most powerful charity’s kindness?

According to the Gates Foundation site, ALEC received the money in Nov. 2011 for a term of one year and 10 months:

to educate and engage its membership on more efficient state budget approaches to drive greater student outcomes, as well as educate them on beneficial ways to recruit, retain, evaluate and compensate effective teaching based upon merit and achievement

Bill Gates has supported gun control in the past: in 1997, he gave $35,000 in support of a Washington state ballot initiative on gun control. You have to wonder how what he thinks about ALEC’s role in the Trayvon Martin case — and if his foundation will continue to support ALEC in the future.