ALEC v the United States Senate

Let’s talk about a rarity–a member of Congress who not only gets it about Durbin with documents re ALEC corporationsALEC, he is trying to use the power we gave him to do something about it.  Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).  I don’t always agree with Senator Durbin’s positions and votes, but this time…

The corporations and think tanks which the senator has targeted are upset – and concerned – about having to talk about being in bed with the American Legislative Exchange Council.

They share this aversion to any publicity about their ALEC association with ALEC’s legislative members.

If they are embarrassed by this, then just quit. In fact, here is what Senator Durbin had to say about that: Durbin on What ALEC Members Should Do
(just click on the image of Durbin)

This is not a group of grassroots organizations taking ALEC corporations to task.  Durbin sits on the Senate Judiciary, Appropriations, Foreign Relations and Rules Committees. He is the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights and the Appropriations Committee’s Defense subcommittee.

As for ALEC?  You don’t really expect them to show any respect to the United States Senate.  The Cabal has already started mustering its resources to spin this fight in the media.

This was first brought to my attention several weeks ago when I did some checking around after reading  a post entitled “Durbin Calls Out ALEC – Again!”


To start his attack, Senator Durbin introduced The Protecting Taxpayers in Transportation Asset Transfers Act.

This would slow the privatization of public assets in cities and states around the country by making sure that if the assets to be sold are still being paid off by the citizens–whether by Bond Issue of Federal Grant–are paid before the asset can be sold off to a privatizer.

Why you would have thought the world was about to come to an end.  ALEC piratizers would no longer have public assets – paid for by the taxpayers – just handed over to them without the corresponding debt.  Almost immediately a bill paving the way for easier privatization was introduced in the Senate by Durbin’s Junior Senator from Illinois, Mark Kirk (not an ALECer, just a commiserating extreme pro-corporate legislator).

Need I note that Durbin’s bill was tied up in committee and never saw the light of day.  But, it established the beachhead for the battle to come.

The “Durbin Calls Out ALEC – Again!” post also reported how Senator Durbin asked The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) if they still had sponsors who were also funding ALEC.  Not if they had such sponsors, but if they still had such sponsors!

Then just before before ALEC’s 40th Annual National Summit convened in Chicago, Senator Durbin launched his broadside.

ALEC and Franklin CenterHe sent a letter to the conservative Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity


I ask that you please reply to this letter by answering yes or no in response to the two questions below. Please feel free to provide additional information explaining your yes or no response.

1.Has Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity served as a member of ALEC or provided any funding to ALEC in 2013?

2. Does Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity support the“stand your ground” legislation that was adopted as a national model and promoted by ALEC?”

Durbin also sent this letter to the CATO InstituteGoldwater Institute, The Pelican Institute and the Center for Security Policy as well as other conservative think tanks, all not-so-incidentally activist non-profits.  John Cato InstituteAllison of CATO promptly replied, straight from the right-wing list of talking points

“…I know that business leaders will now hesitate to exercise their constitutional rights for fear of regulatory retribution.

Your letter thus represents a blatant violation of our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. It is a continuation of the trend of the current administration and congressional leaders, such as yourself, to menace those who do not share your political beliefs—as evidenced by the multiple IRS abuses that have recently been exposed.

Your actions are a subtle but powerful form of government coercion.”

He also sent a letter off to 300 corporations believed to be members of ALEC–including such as ExxonMobil and Koch Industries.

Echo chamber--the cabalPredictably, ALEC is firing back.  Do a browser search for “Durbin letters ALEC” and you will see page after page of articles condemning Durbin for partisanship, a “witch hunt”, and for violating the First Amendment.  The Wall Street Journal’s slanted report,,, the Daily Caller,, Reason, as well as the Cato institute have fired up the conservative echo chamber with all of the extreme right’s talking points.

Such luminaries of democracy such as Senators Ted Cruz and Senate Committee member Ron DeSantis have already weighed in.

On its own website, ALEC posted its reply to Senator Durbin.

A Senate hearing with its commensurate media coverage can create a major liability for ALEC members in both chambers of Congress, as well as in our State legislatures.  What a way to tie ALEC members to some of the most unpopular and repressive legislation ever passed.  What a way to paint members with the dirty paintbrush known as ALEC.  As by supporting ALEC these legislators are

  •   supporting financial de-regulation
  •   supporting privatization of our public school
  •   supporting piratization of the U.S. Postal Service
  •   supporting privatization of government services
  •   supporting the elimination of unions
  •   supporting the elimination of the minimum wage
  •   supporting tax cuts for the wealthy
  •   supporting climate change denial legislation
  •   supporting segregation
  •   supporting Voter ID
  •   supporting Kill at Will, and so much more
  •   while denying us health care coverage and so much more.

Senator Durbin plans to convene the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights in September

PAGE BREAKPlease visit to read the entire post about Durbin’s first two attacks on ALEC.


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