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Right-Wing ALEC in Damage Control, While Activists Launch Campaign to Expose 'ALEC Democrats'

ALEC has made some concessions, but activists are keeping the pressure on, expanding their focus beyond corporations to target elected officials who align themselves with ALEC.

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But other groups were more circumspect. ColorOfChange executive director Rashad Robinson called ALEC's statement "nothing more than a PR stunt aimed at diverting attention from its agenda, which has done serious damage to our communities." He went on,

"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. It's clear that major corporations were in bed with an institution that has worked against basic American values such as the right to vote. Now that these companies are aware of what they've supported, what will they do about it? If ALEC's corporate supporters will not hold the institution accountable for the damage it has caused nationwide, then the ColorOfChange community will hold them accountable."

Huffington Post correspondent Dan Froomkin also expressed skepticism over ALEC's announcement. In fact, he speculated that the move "could end up making little practical difference to [ALEC], while taking the wind out of the sails of the opposition."

What Froomkin didn't account for is the tenacity of the anti-ALEC campaign organizers. On Friday afternoon, PCCC held a press call to describe the next phase of its efforts: targeting "ALEC Democrats."

Over the coming days and weeks, the group and others will disseminate information about Democrats in government who align themselves with ALEC. The activists already have on board a coalition of progressive state legislators from Wisconsin, South Dakota, Montana, New Mexico, New York, and Washington, many of whom spoke with reporters today about the importance of getting more Democrats to denounce ALEC.

"It's a sham to project that [ALEC] is bipartisan in nature. And no Democrat should give aid and comfort to this organization by participating in it, to promote its alleged 'bipartisanship,'" said New York State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries. "It is very important that members of the Democratic Party, who traditionally have stood for enfranchising voters and have stood for promoting the rights to organize and for sensible gun laws, should withdraw from an organization that pushes an agenda that is exactly the opposite."

South Dakota State Sen. Angie Buhl added, "At the end of the day, the Democratic Party is big and diverse, but we've always been about standing up for middle- and working-class families, not for corporations. ALEC is the antithesis of what we stand for as Democrats. Dozens of companies like Kraft and Coca-Cola have already dumped ALEC, and it's time for Democrats to do the same."

Many progressives would quibble with the assertion that Democrats have "always been about standing up for middle- and working-class families, not for corporations." But still, few could argue with the merits of shining a light on Dems who stand with ALEC. Indeed, doing so could get the party's members a step closer to being true advocates of middle- and working-class Americans.

The PCCC's James Ploeser noted that several Democrats have preemptively dropped their affiliations with ALEC in recent weeks, given the intense public scrutiny brought on by the grassroots campaigns. (According to Ploeser, "There are 26 states with Democratic state legislators in ALEC. There were 76 ALEC Dems last week, and today it's down to 69.")

Ploeser said his group plans to use the same tactics it used to help incite ALEC's corporate exodus to target Democrats. It's plausible, he said, that some ALEC Dems might not realize how damaging ALEC's policies are. But after the group's dirty laundry is aired in front of them, they'll be forced to make a decision, knowing that their constituents are increasingly aware of how ALEC operates.

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