ALEC tries to claw back support lost after Trayvon furor

Internal ALEC documents reveal that it lost 400 state legislators and 60 corporation members in the last two years

Topics: ALEC, Lobbying, jeffersonian project, Stand-Your-Ground, Trayvon Martin, corporations, Castle Law, Gun Control, Guns, ,

The American Legislative Exchange Council, which helped push a series of Castle and “stand your ground” gun laws onto state House agendas, lost a number of significant supporters in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death and the gun law awareness campaigns in its wake. Now, according to a Guardian report Tuesday, the right-wing lobby network is seeking to win back these donors in the face of a funding crisis.

ALEC, the Guardian discovered, has “identified more than 40 lapsed corporate members it wants to attract back into the fold under a scheme referred to in its documents as the ‘Prodigal Son Project.’ The target firms include commercial giants such as Amazon, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Kraft, McDonald’s and Walmart, all of which cut ties with the group following the furore over the killing of the unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin in Florida in February 2012.”

According to internal documents, ALEC suffered considerable financial losses over its connection to “stand your ground” laws — highlighted by the Trayvon Martin case as problematic and potentially fostering of racial prejudices. Via the Guardian:

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By ALEC’s own reckoning the network has lost almost 400 state legislators from its membership over the past two years, as well as more than 60 corporations that form the core of its funding. In the first six months of this year it suffered a hole in its budget of more than a third of its projected income.
… ALEC’s own internal records of its membership states that it has 1,810 state legislators on its membership books – amounting to almost a quarter of all elected representatives at state level across the nation. That support base has declined though over the past two years, from a peak in 2011 of 2,200, underlining the structural problems that the group faces in the wake of the Trayvon Martin outrage

The Guardian also learned that, in fear of losing its tax-exempt status over possible government inquiries into the group’s lobbying activity and potential tax law violations, ALEC has plans to set up a separate group, “the Jeffersonian Project.” A note to ALEC’s board of directors explained, “Any activity that could be done by Alec may be done by Jeffersonian Project if legal counsel advises it would provide greater legal protection or lessen ethics concerns.”

Natasha Lennard
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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