The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — the corporate "bill mill" known primarily for pushing discriminatory voter ID laws through statehouses across the country — is bleeding members. Since ColorOfChange began drawing attention to ALEC's voter suppression efforts last year, 40 major corporations and 70 state legislators have publicly disavowed any relationship with the group.
In the midst of this PR disaster, ALEC is grasping at straws to try to polish its image. Last week, Executive Director Ron Scheberle tried to convince readers of the San Francisco Chronicle that ALEC is a natural ally of tech startups and small-business entrepreneurs.
Scheberle failed to mention that ALEC continually pushes legislation designed to protect entrenched special interests by killing off the competition. ALEC shills for near-monopolies Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner Cable — hardly a roster of nimble innovators. And Big Telecom's preeminent role at ALEC goes back decades; Scheberle's own 25 years with ALEC overlap heavily with his 30-year lobbying gig at Verizon.
Today, the Chronicle is featuring ColorOfChange Executive Director Rashad Robinson's response to Scheberle's op-ed, and to ALEC's cynical attempts to whitewash its record:
"ALEC's work to undermine our democracy — and erode our fundamental rights — under the cover of championing 'free-market enterprise' cannot go unchallenged. That's why more than 100,000 ColorOfChange.org members have been inspired to take action, urging ALEC's corporate funders to withdraw their support.
ALEC is behind a key piece of California legislation that would undermine consumer protections critical to ensuring quality, affordability and accessibility of telephone service throughout the state. SB 1161, on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk, would cut off lifelines to low-income and rural communities, and raise phone rates for everyone. Thanks to ALEC, this blank check to Verizon and AT&T is already the law of the land in Georgia, Florida, Michigan, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin."
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