By Brendan Fischer on March 27, 2012

The gun lobby has come under the spotlight for its role in the so-called "Stand Your Ground" or "Shoot First" law that may protect the man who shot and killed seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida -- but many other special interests, including household names like Kraft Foods and Wal-Mart, also helped facilitate the spread of these and other laws by funding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

As Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman highlighted this week in the New York Times, the Center for Media and Democracy's work exposing ALEC has pierced through the veil of secrecy around how "model" bills like the NRA-conceived "Stand Your Ground"/"Shoot First" bills get approved in closed-door meetings of corporations and politicians and then pushed across the country.

But as CMD has documented through ALECexposed.org, the National Rifle Association (NRA) is not the only special interest that has funded ALEC's operations over the years. Kraft, Wal-Mart, State Farm, and other well-known corporations are ALEC members and give thousands of dollars a year to ALEC to support its work, sit on its board, have a vote on its task forces, and access lawmakers through ALEC meetings at fancy resorts. Over 98 percent of ALEC's annual $7 million budget comes from corporations and sources other than the $50 in annual dues paid by its legislative members. Because ALEC is largely corporate-funded, it is through the financial support of some of the largest companies in the world that ALEC model bills can spread across the country.

CMD has called ALEC a "corporate bill mill" because it facilitates companies like Wal-Mart and special interests like the NRAputting their wish lists in the hands of state legislators and having their desires ratified as model bills to pass in statehouses around the country. In addition to the Florida bill that ALEC and the NRA call the "Castle Doctrine Act," ALEC model bills have served as the template for "voter ID" laws that swept the country in 2011, for the "voucher" programs that privatize public education, for anti-environmental bills, anti-immigrant legislation, and for the wave of anti-worker legislation pushed over the past year in Wisconsin, Ohio, New Hampshire, Indiana, and most recently, in Arizona.

ALEC Task Force meetings, where model bills are initially approved, are closed to the press and public, but corporations and ideological special interests like the Wal-Mart "have a VOICE and a VOTE," in the words of ALEC, with elected officials. Not only do corporate representatives have a vote on model legislation alongside legislators on ALEC task forces, some companies also provide gifts to the ALEC "scholarship" fund for elected officials to attend ALEC meetings at resorts. Under ALEC's published bylaws, every state's legislative co-chair has a "duty" to raise money from ALEC corporations for these trip funds. (CMD has filed a complaint with Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board about how the ALEC scholarships appear to violate state ethics and lobbying laws.)

ALEC boasts of having over 300 corporate members, with almost two dozen corporations sitting on the ALEC Private Enterprise Board. According to ALEC's published bylaws, this Board meets jointly with its "public sector" board of state legislators.

In addition to the usual suspects like Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil, and Altria/Phillip Morris, corporate members of that board include a variety of businesses whose products are well known. Coca-Cola and computer chip manufacturer Intel both sat on ALEC's board last year when CMD launched ALECexposed.org and began highlighting the corporations making ALEC's agenda possible. Currently, the Board includes mac-and-cheese maker Kraft Foods, the "good neighbor" State Farm, shipping giant UPS, and the global consolidated liquor company Diageo (known for brands like Johnny Walker, Tanqueray, Smirnoff, and Guinness). Verizon's former lobbyist, Ron Scherbele, is currently ALEC's Executive Director, after having represented Verizon on the Board for years.

Other ALEC Private Enterprise Board members include telecommunications giant AT&T and pharmaceutical companies like Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline, along with the drug industry lobby group PhRMA. (PhRMA also gave over $350,000 to ALEC's scholarship fund in 2010 alone.)

Wal-Mart is also a member of the ALEC Board, and in 2005 headed the ALEC Task Force that ratified the law that may protect the killer of Trayvon Martin and other unarmed victims. Wal-Mart is also the largest seller of rifles and ammunition in the U.S.

With the launch of ALECexposed.org, CMD, along with the efforts of Color of Change, Common Cause, People for the American Way, Progress Now, and others, began a corporate accountability campaign to hold the corporate leaders of ALEC accountable for legislation resulting from the ALEC bill mill.

Numerous citizens have responded by contacting ALEC corporations, which often try to disavow any responsibility for ALEC bills. Koch Industries has just issued such a claim, despite its long-time leadership role as a member of the ALEC corporate board, and despite having chaired the board in the past. Koch says it opposed an NRA bill in Florida, but at the same time, a Koch representative was sitting on the corporate board of ALEC (and have been for over a decade), and both Koch Industries and the Koch family foundations have been funding ALEC's operations. Over this period, ALEC in turn has been elevating an array of gun bills as state "models," including legislation expanding concealed carry and allowing guns on college campuses as well as the Stand Your Ground/Shoot First/Castle Doctrine bill. And many ALEC legislators have sponsored these bills to become the law in states across the country.

ALEC has boasted repeatedly that nearly a thousand of its bills are introduced each year and 20 percent become law. Corporations like Koch Industries and Wal-Mart have helped make that possible through their long-standing financial support of ALEC.

A list of known ALEC corporations, present and past, can be viewed here.

Send a message to the corporations on the Private Enterprise Board here.

Brendan Fischer

Brendan Fischer is CMD's General Counsel. He graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Comments

I have had to fight drug dealers in a white neighborhood that were connected to the state troopers and a former Lancaster cop. I need and demand the stay the fuck away from me curtilage laws. It is not something the NRA and Pa. Attorney General Zimmerman wanted in the 1980-2000. I was and am a liberal pro abortion feminist and I need my guns to protect me from right wing cops and non political drug dealers including Russian mafia, black and white gang members. The idiot in Fla was not using the stand your ground law to protect himself. The teen was killed by a dude who thought that Trayvon did not belong in his community. He was connected with the cops and that is why Trayvon should have been allowed even at 17 to get a license to carry. Black or white moms need to protect their kids from wackos and that can only be done if you are a crack shot.

Helen i'm with you on that, Zimmerman killing this teen was not justified by that law, just like someone said a person gets locked up quick you kill a dog.. He didn't want that black boy in his neighborhood,

Let us not forget that the K Bros. own many toilet paper companies, which is the kind of product that they excel in. They come in all shades of brown.

One of the worst things these brothers do is to worm their way into state legislatures and write the laws for the unctious and lazy people who are supposed to write them. Of course, they do this, and people don't know they're bleeding until they see blood on their shoes.
According to Ken Vogel of Politico, one of their more ambitious new projects is setting up a national voter database called Themis to expand their fundraising and mobilising machinery. Vogel says the effort is "unprecedented", and reveals the Kochs determination to develop capabilities reserved for major political parties in the past.

Make no mistake: these two are highly intelligent and know exactly what they're doing. They are using their intelligence, money, and power to do evil. Karma will prevail. Themis, my a$$!

Themis was the Titan goddess of divine law and order--the traditional rules of conduct first established by the gods. She was also a prophetic goddess who presided over the most ancient oracles, including Delphi. For the Kochs to steal this beautiful concept from the ancient Greeks, and warp it into one of their mysanthropic krony vampire capitalistic ventures is the worst kind of distortion of what is good and holy.

I have written numerous articles about the ALEC influence on Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Louisiana Legislature and everything you have said is deadly accurate--and frightening.

Jindal--abetted by his compliant legislature--is following the ALEC legislative playbook so closely it almost qualified as plagiarism. There is even a bill pending to allow guns on college campuses. The inmates are running the asylum!

Tom Aswell
Denham Springs, LA.
www.louisianavoice.com

Since the hand-gun killing of Trayvon Martin, it has become increasingly obvious that much larger corporate funding and interests have been aiding the small domestic gun lobby, NRA, by infusing pro-weapons, pro-violence, and pre-emptive quasi-legality into the justification psychology of America's general population through the media and legal systems.

Although I have not deeply studied ALEC's specific campaign efforts to promulgate pro-gun, and one might argue, pro-violence justification, into the legal systems of our country by a broader array of corporations than just NRA (or its few identified corporate supporters) there has certainly not been any mainstream media interest yet in investigating or reporting on possible linkages between NRA and the major global war weapons makers.

After-all, Zimmerman was not a 'neighborhood watch' guy who unleashed a Predator Drone strike or Boeing Cruise Missile pre-emptively on Trayvon because he "looked like trouble". However, the much larger corporations that make 70% of the worlds weapons of war benefit from the societal support of the kind of pre-emptive psychological influence that "stand your ground" laws which ALEC and NRA efforts engender.

It is well known that from a business standpoint US military weapons manufacturers account for over 67% of all international weapons sales. This is a market that dwarfs the market for 'civilian' guns in the US or in the whole world by multiple orders of magnitude.

This global international nation-state market for overtly military weapons obviously intersects with, and depends upon a level of violence and the threat/fear of violence that also dwarfs that of US privately owned 'civilian' firearms.

The Congress of the US is a necessary element of supporting the allowance for the far larger global military weapons sales market, as well as the domestic private/civilian gun sales market --- both of which markets are at least partially driven by the fear or threat of violence, in terms of defending against violence and unleashing violence as a supposed deterrent to violence.

The domestic 'gun lobby' seems to have a lobbying impact far greater than would be supportable by either the number of NRA individual members (far less than AARP for example) or by the financial resources of US domestic private gun firms (many of which are only small or moderate size businesses).

One has to wonder if there exists some confluence and coincidence of interests (including the market driver of the psychological fear or threat of violence) between the far smaller market players in the US gun market, and the far more financially powerful global weapons corporations (US corporations) which profit from the 67% of global military weapons sales.

Liberty, democracy, justice, & equality
Over
Violent/Vichy
Empire,

Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine

Occupy Empire sign:
“The faces of Empire”
Obama = Petain
Romney = Hitler
What gutlessly voting for
'least worst' leads to!

Malkin is incapable of telling the truth on most issues. She refuses to acknowledge that ALEC via Wal Mart's leadership on the ALEC committee that approved the model stand your ground language. And Wal-Mart is the leading seller of rifles and ammo. Wal Mart thinks that it can ham hand its will around the country. I am sure the Walton kids are all supporting Rove's pac and ALEC as well as the company itself. Mars candy just left ALEC, maybe Wal Mart will be standing alone with this corporate front. How can minority voters shop at a Wal Mart store with a straight face?