Demonstration Planned To Protest ALEC Annual Meeting

When the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) gathers in New Orleans for its annual meeting at the end of the summer, it will have some company.

This "No ALEC" sign was part of a recent protest in Madison, Wis. Demonstrators will gather in New Orleans in August to protest ALEC's annual meeting.A peaceful demonstration has been planned to coincide with ALEC's 38th annual meeting, which is scheduled to be held August 3-6 at the Marriott New Orleans. According to the "Protest ALEC" website (which is not affiliated with CMD), advocates will hold a number of workshops devoted to examining the ALEC agenda, corporations, and politicians. The session will culminate with a program followed by a "March to the Marriott" from the Hale Boggs Federal Building. Scheduled speakers and performances include Jordan Flaherty, journalist and community organizer; Bob Sloan, prison industry investigative consultant and author; David Rovics, musician; and representatives from the AFL-CIO and Interfaith Worker Justice.

The demonstration is being organized by the Student Labor Action Project (SLAP), a student organization at Louisiana State University that, according to its website, "works to promote the common interests of students and workers." The group drew its inspiration from an April 29 protest that several of its members attended, held in Cincinnati at the site of ALEC's Spring Task Force meeting. SLAP indicates it is working with advocates from across the country for its New Orleans effort to help educate the public about ALEC.

Fighting Corporate Collusion

"We believe that the American Legislative Exchange Council is a very clear example of corporate collusion with political systems today," said Nathan Anderson, SLAP co-founder. "It displays very clearly how corporate interests are interacting with our government and setting up the framework for what is being considered politically viable as solutions for the problems we face today."

Anderson said one of the most significant problems associated with ALEC is that there is no organized opposition to it within either the Democratic or Republican party. "We are the opposition — those of us on the ground, working people," Anderson said. He thinks that what is needed is "an independent political movement of working people" that will lead to the implementation of policies to protect the rights and future of working Americans.

"Stop ALEC" sign spotted at protest in Madison, Wis.Bruce Fealk, a progressive activist from Michigan who is a spokesperson for the protest, also objects. "Having corporations be in direct contact with our legislators, not just through lobbying … but to be able to write legislation, is not the way the American democratic system was meant to work," Fealk said.

Fealk plans to travel from Michigan to New Orleans for the August protest. He also participated in the Cincinnati protest. He believes protests such as these serve to send a message to ALEC that "meddling in our politics and letting corporations have such direct access to our politicians isn't acceptable."

Individuals have responded to ALEC's agenda with a variety of efforts, including asking the corporations involved to step back from their support for the organization, asking politicians more about their role in ALEC, calling for politicians involved in ALEC to be "recalled" from office, making requests from state officials for more disclosure of ALEC "scholarships" or reimbursements of elected officials' expenses, and other efforts to hold those involved more accountable.

It is important for people to be aware of how ALEC is affecting their state, Anderson said. With days to go before ALEC's annual convention, protest organizers are working to increase public awareness. "We're looking, first of all, for people to be here," Anderson said. "We need people out on the streets to show that we know what ALEC is doing, that we're not OK with it. ALEC believes they pose the only real solutions to these problems; we know that's not true." The groups organizing the protest are currently working to line up housing arrangements for advocates.

"The bigger the protest, the more attention we get, and the more people are going to become informed about ALEC and their activities and why they're bad for our democracy," Fealk said.

The Protest ALEC website has a list of guidelines for participants to ensure the protest is "peaceful, focused and well-understood." The demonstration organizers will have crowd marshals available to assist participants and encourage peaceful actions.


It is useful to note that as the Recall elections in Wisconsin heat up in the recall of 3 Democrats and 6 Republicans currently sitting in that state's legislature - that none of the Democrats are or have been members of ALEC. Of the Republicans recalled, at least two, Darling and Kapanke are current members of, and assisted ALEC in introducing and passing their offensive model legislation involving ending collective bargaining, unnecessary voter ID fraud laws, replacing union and civilian workers with free prison labor and a dozen more of ALEC developed laws against all Wisconsin citizens. Alongside ALEC Alumni, Governor Walker, Kapanke, Darling, the Fitzgerald brothers and 20 other Wisconsin GOP lawmakers have worked hard to implement ALEC's conservative ideology throughout Wisconsin and several other Midwest states. Wisconsin can begin to heal themselves by voting Kapanke and Darling along with the other 4 recalled GOP "lawmakers." When asked back in March about proposed cut-and-paste ALEC legislation introduced by him, ALEC'S WI. State Chairman, and Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald responded; "So what?" This is precisely why it is so important to remove these people from their representation of "the people" of Wisconsin and elsewhere. They are arrogant, in power and willing to sacrifice the will, desire and future of their constituents in pursuit of a ready made GOP Conservative agenda designed to empower and enrich the corporations who spend millions to put people like Fitzgerald, Kapanke and Darling in office. They put them there because these lawmakers are willing to trade their souls and the future of their constituents and the state itself to assist the likes of Koch Industries to dictate the law in Wisconsin. This is why I'm attending the Protest ALEC event in New Orleans next week. This is why I attended the Protest ALEC in Cincinnati in April...and this is why I urge all workers, students and citizens who have been exploited by the likes of ALEC, Walker, Kapanke, Fitzgerald and Darling to turn out and support our efforts in New Orleans as we take them on - face to face - in your name and in support of workers everywhere. Please put the word out, print it, publish it, carry signs at your protests about it - in solidarity with us. Bob Sloan Fighting for America's Workers and a "Proud Member of Exposing ALEC"