The Center for Media and Democracy's reporter Eric Carlson flew down to New Orleans to cover the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) annual meeting. After hearing from ALEC Board member and Ohio State Senator Bill Seitz that "there is nothing secret about it [ALEC]," Carlson was eager to attend ALEC workshops and interview state legislators about their priorities.
However, Carlson was denied press credentials by ALEC and then kicked out by security as he sat writing on his computer in the Marriott lobby. Marriott denies that it was their security personnel and speculates that it could have been private security hired by ALEC.
Carlson is part of the CMD team that brought ALEC to public attention in recent weeks with the release of the ALEC Exposed website, which lists over 800 ALEC model bills.
"What is ALEC hiding? Our young reporter knows more about ALEC than just about anyone," said Lisa Graves the Director of the Center for Media and Democracy. "He was doing nothing inappropriate and simply sitting in the lobby filing a story."
The ALEC press policy says: "ALEC invites credentialed members of both traditional and online journalist [sic] to attend ALEC events." No problem. CMD has been engaged in investigative reporting since 1993. We have covered and reported all sorts of conferences, domestic and international, events at the Wisconsin State Capital Building, the U.S. Congress and even the White House. The ALEC press policy also says: "Journalists may not register as media if their news outlet is funded by a think-tank, political party, lobbying organization, trade association or corporation. ALEC will not allow journalists to register as media for the purpose of writing a personal online blog." Again no problem. CMD is not funded by any of these entities.
But when Carlson went to register for his ALEC press credentials, he was handed the press policy and told that ALEC did not allow "advocacy" organizations. Notably, the ALEC press policy does not mention advocacy organizations.