The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) lost five more corporate donors this week as a result of a smear campaign from a leftist organization known as “Color of Change.” The group, founded by former White House green jobs czar Van Jones, set out to intimidate ALEC’s corporate donor base this year by framing ALEC’s support of state voter ID laws and ALEC’s former work on state stand your ground legislation as racist.
“I don’t think ALEC is a racist organization. I was a member of ALEC,” Rep. Tim Scott, South Carolina Republican, told me on Wednesday.
ALEC, a 30 year-old non-partisan membership association for “conservative state lawmakers who shared a common belief in limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberty” has been fighting off the attacks but has already lost 25 corporate donors to date including: Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Miller-Coors, PepsiCo, Procter and Gamble, and Kraft. ALEC successfully assisted state lawmakers over the years with legislation, like right to work laws that often benefited the very corporations who are now dropping ALEC.
“I think the whole notion of a racist organization is just a tough one to label on ALEC. They were very receptive when I was a member of it,” Congressman Scott said. Before Mr. Scott went to Washington in 2010, he served as a South Carolina state legislator and worked with ALEC.
“I spent a lot of time working on conservative issues with [ALEC], but if the definition of a racist organization is someone that does not support the notion that you can just walk in and vote without showing who you are, it’s just ludicrous,” said Rep. Scott.
Congressman Allen West, Florida Republican, bristled when I mentioned Van Jones’s involvement in the smear campaign against ALEC.
“You mean the socialist or whatever he is today?” asked Congressman West. “Where can you go in America without a picture ID? The Democrats aren’t even allowing anyone to go to their convention without a picture ID,” Congressman West said.
Congressman Scott agreed saying, “You can’t get on a plane without showing who you are. You can’t cash a check without showing who you are. So why shouldn’t you have to show who you are when you vote? I don’t really get the whole deal.”
Led by Attorney General Eric Holder, the Justice Department is suing a number of states that have implemented or tightened voter ID laws recently, including: Texas, South Carolina, Alabama, and Wisconsin. USA Today reports that according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 30 states have had voter ID laws on the books going back more than a decade. Of those thirty states, eleven are key swing states.
The DOJ also filed a suit against Florida for the state’s desire to purge voter rolls of individuals who are not eligible to vote. Interestingly, AG Holder spoke at the NAACP annual conference this week in Houston and attendees were required to show a form of government issued photo identification before entering the conference.
Color of Change is running a radio ad in various parts of the country like this recent ad telling listeners to contact Dell Computers and urge the company to drop their corporate sponsorship of ALEC. A similar radio ad was aired in June that told listeners to contact Johnson & Johnson.
“This is how they do it. This is how their side does business. This is horrible, but that’s part of their intimidation tactics. That’s part of the Saul Alinsky tactics and we just have to fight through it,” Congressman West said of Color of Change’s campaign against ALEC.
“It seems to me this has more to do with politics than it does with racial harmony than it does with racial challenges. It seems to be an issue that has more to do with finding a way to eliminate the donor base, so to speak…the corporate investors, in conservative causes and the retaliation towards companies that find themselves on the conservative side of the aisle. That seems to be more of the issue than what ALEC stands for,” said Rep. Scott.
“So certainly there should be great concern about folks that say, ‘If you take a position as a conservative, the retaliation might mean loss of your funding.’ I think that one would give great consideration to whether or not that’s fair,” Mr. Scott added.
As for those former corporate donors of ALEC and those ALEC donors who are currently being intimidated by Color of Change, Congressman Scott had these final thoughts:
“I would say, take it very seriously the legislative agenda of those folks supporting the juxtaposition of groups like ALEC and make a decision of where you are philosophically and not what you are afraid of,” he said.
“It sounds like covert retaliation from the left. If you can undermine the corporate sponsorship base of an organization like ALEC, then you can undermine every other conservative organization corporate sponsorship base. And you can eliminate the folks who are in opposition to what your philosophical legislative agenda is. And that’s bad for America.”