March 23, 2012

Exposed: The Corporations Behind The Law That May Let Trayvon Martin’s Killer Go Free

It’s been widely reported today that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the shadowy corporate front group that unites state lawmakers with corporations to pass state laws favorable to corporate interests, helped pass the law that might allow Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, to escape prosecution. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground,” the law that might help Zimmerman to claim self-defense (despite evidence to the contrary) is just one of many state laws that is nearly identical to ALEC’s model Castle Doctrine Act. The Florida senator who introduced the law, Durell Peadon, was also a member of ALEC. The law passed in 2005.

According to the Center for Media and Democracy, 98 percent of ALEC’s revenues come from corporations, corporate trade groups, and corporate foundations. Each member pays annual fees of between $7,000 and $25,000. ALEC is also supplemented by direct grants. We don’t know all the details about all of ALEC’s funders and members. Here’s a partial list of what we do know about the corporations and foundations who helped fund the group that drafted the law that keeps Trayvon Martin’s killer free — and put more guns on our streets:

  • ALEC received $1.4 million in grants from ExxonMobil from 1998-2009.
  • It has also received grants from two Koch family-backed foundations: Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Claude R. Lambe Foundation.
  • ALEC has received grant money from the billionaire conservative and American Spectator publisher Richard Mellon Scaife‘s Allegheny Foundation and  the Coors family’s Castle Rock Foundation.
  • ALEC’s Private Enterprise Board members include executives from Bayer Corp., GlaxoSmithKline, Centerpoint360, Reynolds American, Wal-Mart Stores, Johnson & Johnson, PhRMA, American Bail Coalition, Kraft Foods, Inc., Pfizer Inc., DIAGEO, AT&T, Reed Elsevier, Inc., Peabody Energy, UPS, Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC, Altria Client Services, ExxonMobil, Salt River Project, and State Farm Insurance Co. Coca Cola also recently had an executive on ALEC’s board.
  • According to reporting by my colleague, Lee Fang, ALEC’s 38th Annual Meeting was funded by corporations including BP, Takeda Pharmaceutical, Allergan, Altria, Bayer, Chevron, Peabody, Shell, UnitedHealthcare, Visa, FedEx, Louisiana Seafood, UPS,, Chesapeake Energy, ConocoPhillips, Dow, Gulf States Toyota, International Paper, TimeWarner, Wellpoint, HP, Lilly, Merck, USAA, and Walgreens (the full list available here).

The first item in ALEC’s mission statement is:

… to advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty, through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector, the federal government, and general public.

Individual liberty is one thing when it comes to protecting your home or your children. It’s quite another when it means gunning down a teenager armed only with Skittles in his father’s neighborhood. ALEC is the same group behind laws that harm workers, health, and safety, and behind the “Voter ID” law that makes it harder for low-income people, communities of color, the disabled and elderly, and others to vote. Now we know ALEC wrote the law that might let Trayvon Martin’s killer walk free.  How much longer will the large corporations behind ALEC harm the communities in which they do business by funding the group’s reckless agenda?


  • Mlevariojrusmc

    To the Nazi Republicans Party …. You Pendejos have been around since the beginning Of the ANGLOS. Taking ,Of the Americans Natives being Hispanic or American Indian !! You Guy are discussing maggots !! America the Land of People for The People ! Not Rich Barrons of The Old Way of the Barrons.Who want to turn back the TIME ! of the Good Old White Boys America they want . America is of Inclusion not Exclusion you dummies ! Also you want to change the Laws of America in the Middle of the Game. Sounds or Smell like Nazi Commie Pig who want to change law .To Help your causes *! to murder Americans citizens whom you want to set up for the kill of children or young adults with a hoodi on or maybe a cap. Come on America Change the Law Back that take away weapons away from naive children and young adults who thinks he’s on a video game shooting at objects. God Bless America the Somewhat land of the free kind of sort of . SEMPER FI !!!!

    • Paulz Outlook

      You’re spilling ignorance all over the place.

    • Ravi

      That’s a fairly brilliant display of horrendous racism. The idea that firearms and the legislation thereof are somehow solely associated with the white male is ridiculous. The ALEC exposed nonsense was an incredibly misrepresentation of the Castle Doctrine. The god written law that you can defend yourself in your own home. Only the insane or indoctrinated would rally against such a value. Respect the laws of the union or REMOVE yourself immediately.

  • CatKinNY

    Where are the gun and ammo manufacturers on this list? They are the only ones to benefit from these laws. How do shoot to kill laws benefit insurance companies? If Trayvon Martin’s parents had an insurance policy, taken out cheaply when he was a baby to be cashed in for college, this is going to cost them. Do all of these big companies think anarchy will help their bottom line’s? Or perhaps it’s just the promotion of another wedge issue with which to divide us.

    • Cops4labor

      Your last sentence is the answer to your question. The only way that the wealthy that control this country can continue to get the masses to vote against their own self interest in favor of the elite is to create enemies that divert attention from the real problem, which is that we have a government that is bought and paid for. They create all of these shiny balls in the air to distract people from the trillions that are being taken from us. More fundamentally, they HAVE to create a psyche of every man for himself, kill or be killed, to make their agenda work. If we truly were to restore a sense of community in this country, the sense that “I am my brothers’ and sisters’ keeper,” people would see the insanity of what is occurring in our once great nation. It sickens me to the core.

      • CatKinNY

        The only thing that gives me hope is that OWS and the Tea Party are starting to talk, and see that there is a lot they agree on.

      • AuthorBear

        AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMEN to that. It does me too, more than words could ever express.

  • Wdonaldwoodcock

    Don’t show pictures of Trayvon Martin when he was 12 years old. I have read reports of a witness who saw him on top of Zimmerman beating him up. Trayvon Martin was 6′ 3″ tall and a heavy set footbball player(17 years old).

    • guest

      Really, first I’ve heard of all this, what witness?

      • Rome

        yes please tell us which witness saw this, because the witnesses i heard had a different account…..

    • Pj

      I don’t rightly care how old he is, or how tall, or how much he weights, that he was wearing a hoodie, or that he is a young black man. He was walking down the street with some candy and an ice tea, minding his own business; when someone who thinks they are above the law took his life. Should be enough said.

    • JerryR64

      6′ 3″ and 140lbs……. A stong fart could knock over a pencil like that never mind a fat “Neighbourhood Watch Volunteer, Bouncer”

    • ekkikani

      Never mind that Zimmerman was in his car while Martin was walking, never mind that the 911 operator told him(Zimmerman) to wait for the police, and never mind that Zimmerman was armed with a 9mm pistol to Martin’s bag of candy. Forget Zimmerman’s racist comments on the 911 tapes. All these things are irrelevant to Mr. Woodcock. Trayvon Martin “was 6’3″ tall and a heavy set football player.” Zimmerman shot and killed that boy because he wanted to shoot somebody;apologists for this kind of social injustice are always going to come crawling out from their hiding places.

      • Paulz Outlook

        What racist comments? The 911 operator asked him if the guy was black, white or hispanic and he replied, “he looks black.” MSNBC edited it to portray him as a racist. Maybe it’s time you start cross-referencing your media sources.

    • Why can’t they show pictures of him as a child? To his parents he will still be their little boy. And if you died at his age, I bet your parents would have younger pictures of you at the funeral.

    • Wendy

      The Martin boy was 140 lbs. Thank you Pj for having common sense to this matter.

      Today for the Martin Boy’s unjustly death, hopefully not tomorrow for our sons, future sons or future grandsons.

    • alsean1

      You read a false report. No one saw the Martin boy beat Zimmerman. The Martin boy was only 140 lbs., tall and slim.

  • guest

    Va. is passing all kinds of laws limiting the rights of it’s people, it has or soon will pass the “Castle “. It removed the limit on buying handguns to 2 per mo., now you can buy as many as you want. What really bothers me is most people are not aware of these laws and have no input. Lawmakers here believe if you voted them in you have given them free rein. ALEC very prominent in Va., ranked 47th out of fifty states for corruption, transparency in govt. Voter ID required here folks!

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  • KillAllTheBankers

    It seems to me that the only way to stop the corporate take over in America is for there to be a separation of the corporations from the government. Like an amendment to the Constitution separating the corporations from the politicians bank accounts in every conceivable fashion. Otherwise this will just continue forever. If you want to be upset with corporations for having no conscience, your anger may be somewhat misplaced. Clearly they don’t make the laws that ruin our life. It’s the corporate lackeys like Romney and Obama that allow this… How about we do a little research on finding some honest politicians.. Like Bernie Sanders, Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, or even Jesse Ventura.. These guys actually care.. The guys that always tell us what we want to hear are probably the lying.. The people they show us positively on the news are probably the biggest liars and sellouts of all.

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  • According to ALEC the inspiration ran from the Florida law to their model legislation, not the other way around.

    The “Stand Your Ground” law does not apply to either the Martin family’s or Zimmerman’s version of events. According to the former, Zimmerman attacked Martin unprovoked. According to the latter, Zimmerman was attacked and on the ground unable to retreat. So any “duty to retreat” did not come in to play. Peadon himself has said it doesn’t apply to this case. The words of a legislator aren’t the end-all be-all, but they are at least suggestive.

    Does anyone know how much money comes from additional gun sales that result from a stand-your-ground law? It strikes me as shoehorning to frame things from that angle. The primary effect of the law in my view is how people behave with guns, not whether they purchase them in the first place. If you believe that the law makes people like Zimmerman behave recklessly, provoke altercations and resolve them with deadly force that could have been avoided, that is what makes the law abhorrent.

    • JohnJay60

      Stand Your Ground suggests that Martin had the authority to confront, and kill if necessary, Zimmerman. If Martin was justified in attacking Zimmerman after Zimmerman’s pursuit, then Zimmerman’s attack on Martin is unjustifiable homicide.

      It is this kind of “who started it?” logic that concerned the Florida law enforcement authorities. Anyone can kill anyone under ALEC’s vision of the future, apparently, if I push a guy and he pushes me harder than I pushed him, I can pull a gun and shoot.

      • I’m not an expert on SYG, but I doubt your explanation of what the law implies. From what I’ve heard it does not cover situations where you provoke a fight. And in this particular case, I don’t think Zimmerman has yet claimed that he pursued/confronted Martin. That may be in fact what happened, but we are discussing what legal arguments can be made in the context of SYG.

        On a completely unrelated point, your namesake is involved in my favorite bit of colonial-era graffiti.

  • Helmuth Hack

    Is the ALEC illegal? Is its’ creation to sidestep state laws for lobbying? Seems like it. America is under attack from within.

    • Paulz Outlook

      We’ve been under attack from within for a long, long time. The Trojan horse has been the most effective strategy for toppling world powers in the history of civilizations.

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  • GoinGal

    PJ. and others, I caution you to wait until all the media dust has settled before you make your judgements. We are all victims of a manipulative media et. al. and the truth never comes out in the beginning. In fact, for those of us who wait for “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” it is rarely easy to find as truth doesn’t sell.

  • Paulz Outlook

    This case was a complete lack of civility. If one of two things had happened; A: Zimmerman had stood down and waited for police to arrive, or B: Martin explained that he and his father were visiting his father’s girlfriend (that’d right, get your factse straight) and that he he was just returning from the store, then this story never happened. This is the most one-sided story I’ve ever read. I’m all for smaller government and banishing corporate influence but this story has become nothing more than another device for Big Brother to use to disarm law abiding citizens.

    • I’m white

      Zimmerman was not a police, this is a free country, and when I’m walking, I don’t have to tell a stranger where I am going. Zimmerman weighed at least 300 lbs. He could have beaten this 140 lb teenager up, but no, he chose to kill this teenager, then sat on his back with his weight after he killed him.

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  • AuthorBear

    It is appalling to see the disastrous to democracy effects of people like Alec. I have to look NO further than around me in Michigan to see the reckless disregard for civil liberties and personal freedom that these b******* ESPOUSE to so fundamentally believe in. That is pure bullpucky. The ONLY freedom they TRULY believe in is their own, and that of their cronies. The rest of us they obviously have nothing but disdain for…and THAT is NOT what my ancestor Brigadier General John Stark fought for and was willing to die for. When he created the motto for the State Of New Hampshire, LIVE FREE OR DIE, this current bastardization of it was NOT what he was talking about. That ‘motto’ was the creed he lived by according to all who knew him…and it OUGHT TO be the standard for EVERY AMERICAN…BUT…he like most of his peers ALSO BELIEVED IN the basic fundamental principles of community and caring for every one around you. When he led the battle that effectively ended the American Revolutionary War, he did so NOT JUST FOR his friends and family and CERTAINLY NOT for himself, but for ALL Americans…and THAT is what we ALL should be about.

    Sadly, Michigan has now pretty much completely moved out of the democratic form of governance and into a dictatorship, populated by a Republcan governor and a Republican-controlled legislature that I consider both dangerous and even perhaps treasonous. For ANYONE to think that it is either American OR democratic to deny people their fundamental rights, whether voters or women or minorities or gay or whatever is delusional. OR worse.

    Let’s hope that the people/voters/residents of ALL these states like Michigan that have wound up with belated buyers remorse REMEMBER next election cycle (if they still have the ability to cast a vote), and VOTE THESE B******* OUT. They do not deserve to be in positions where they can undermine the very fabric of American society. Db

  • Well, I am definitely against corporate corruption of every kind. As far as I’m concerned, corporations should have NO influence in the government. Lobbyists should only be allowed to communicate with elected officials by presenting to a panel of elected officials which is open to the public and videotaped. However, regarding the Stand Your Ground Law, I think people are overreacting without taking time to really evaluate, or understand, the law, its purpose and the real circumstances in which it is correctly used. If Zimmerman is telling the truth, (and he may well be — we really just don’t know yet.) then he would have had a right to defend himself with or without the SYG law. If the rumors and gossip from the sensationalized media and black community turn out to be true, then Zimmerman went far beyond any law and his actions were criminal. Either way, the SYG law really has nothing to do with this. This law is simply being exploited by both sides. Some of you obviously live in protected, low crime communities. But millions of people in this country, like me, live in the city, and most us simply can’t afford to live in a nice, safe neighborhood like you. Someone on my street gets mugged every week. Last christmas, people were getting mugged almost daily. Thugs in our neighborhood constantly bully and terrorize people. The SYG law was designed to prevent this very thing. It allows people to live without having to cower, tremble and run for their life on a routine basis. NO human being should have to live like that!!! And the police are next to useless. The police are overwhelmed. They will come if you call them, twenty minutes later — but by then it is too late. The police can’t sit on every street and protect every neighborhood all the time. We can NOT count on protection from the police!!!! With the SYG law, it’s true that a few lawyers and criminals have taken advantage of the law, but this is a problem with prosecutors and the finer points of law that may need to be tweaked, not the SYG law itself. What the hyped-up, sensationalized media, and some very vocal over emotional, reactionary, knee-jerk liberals (and I’m a staunch liberal/democrat activist myself) haven’t told you is that in high crime communities, all across this nation that have been covered by a form of SYG laws, violent crime in those communities have gone DOWN. In some certain neighborhoods the crime rate has gone down sharply. The SYG law PROTECTS people and restores some measure of PEACE and DIGNITY to their lives. Unless you live in a neighborhood like mine, and you walk to the bus stop, walk to work, walk to shop, etc., then you simply have no right to be barking and making so much noise about this law, especially when you don’t really understand it. Let’s tweak or refine the SYG law if we need to, but don’t tell me or my neighbors, or millions of other Americans that it is better for us to just be terrorized, live in daily fear and constantly flee for our lives than have a law that allows us to protect ourselves and live in peaceful dignity. We should all be active and involved, but, please, in a reasoned, measured, and discerning manner.

    • Guest

      Understanding your points and I do agree SYG has points that should be instituted but the fact that someone walking thru a subdivision (no criminal behavior) warrants someone to follow them in a car, then get out of the car and follow on foot, then shoot and kill said young man, should not be able to claim SYG. If we take into account exactly what Zimmerman stated, he followed Martin. He got out of his car in pursuit of Martin. Martin had a right to SYG, not Zimmerman.

  • philasportsfan

    People, stop voting against your own self-interest. Are you willing to sit back and live in a country controlled by business? Go back and read the books about the company towns, with company stores, company housing, company police, etc. and see if that’s how you want your children and grandchildren to live. Oligarchy is not what “the framers” (as the right wingers like to call them) had in mind when they penned the Constitution in Philadelphia almost 250 years ago. Remember what Franklin said to the question about what form of government they had given us – “A Republic, if you can keep it”. We need to keep it!!

  • Scexpo

    What rug did Woodcock crawl out from under??? Please go back under it.

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  • Jefferson also said that when the gov’t stops being representative of the people then it has outlived its usefulness and must be put aside. Therefore the actions of these corporations is deliberately to weaken said constitution which is of the people by the people and for the people.That is the complete pre-text of the legitimacy of the gov’t. It derives its authority from the people. And another thing, –that doesn’t include corporations. The founding fathers had corporations in their day, and believe me this is no oversite–if they meant “people” to include corporations they would have made that understood. I am certain that in ratifying the constitution if corporations were a “shareholder” in the “people” they would ahve been asked to vote on that proposition–they weren’t.!!!!

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