The American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC has decided to eliminate a task force that supported a bill that expands the use of deadly force.
“We are redoubling our efforts on the economic front, a priority that has been the hallmark of our organization for decades,” according to an ALEC press release.
As a result, the group is eliminating “the ALEC Public Safety and Elections task force that dealt with non-economic issues, and reinvesting these resources in the task forces that focus on the economy.”
Back in 2005, the Public Safety and Elections task force, which was then called the Criminal Justice and Homeland Security Task Force, adopted the deadly force bill, which is called the “shoot first” or “stand your ground” law by some, as model legislation.
In recent months liberal and civil rights groups have put pressure on high-profile companies to sever ties with ALEC by linking Florida’s deadly force law to the shooting of Trayvon Martin. The decision to eliminate the task force comes after several of the nation’s leading corporations and non-profits ended their relationship with the conservative organization.
Those companies include Coke, Kraft Foods, and McDonalds. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has left ALEC as well. At least one Minnesota Company, Xcel Energy, has not had discussions about ending its ALEC membership.
Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed similar legislation earlier this year.
ALEC is an organization that caters to conservative state lawmakers. It is best known for bringing together legislators and corporations to write model legislation, drafts that are meant to inspire bills introduced at the state level. The organization is key player in a broader effort to advance conservative ideas in state houses across the nation.
Government watchdogs and liberal groups say ALEC behaves like a lobby but doesn’t register as one. They point out that corporations pay thousands of dollars to have a seat at the table with friendly lawmakers, and that its model-bill writing process happens in secret.
The deadly force law is just one of many bills ALEC has thrown its support behind.
The Public Safety and Elections task force also approved voter identification model legislation in 2009, according to the Center for Media and Democracy’s ALEC Exposed website, an organization that has been involved in pressuring companies to leave ALEC.
Minnesota voters will decide this fall whether to amend the state’s constitution to require photo identification at the polls.
Republican Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, who led a House effort to put the constitutional amendment on the ballot, is ALEC’s Minnesota state chair. But she says she didn’t get the idea for voter ID from ALEC.
Calls to ALEC were not immediately returned.
Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, an organization involved in asking companies to leave ALEC, says the elimination of the Public Safety and Elections task force is “nothing more than a PR stunt aimed at diverting attention from its agenda, which has done serious damage to our communities.”
“To simply say they are stopping non-economic work does not provide justice to the millions of Americas whose lives are impacted by these dangerous and discriminatory laws courtesy of ALEC and its corporate backers,” Robinson said in a press statement.