ALEC haters now spewing on Craigslist


By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON, Wis. — The left has long hated the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Now they’re repackaging that venom on Craigslist.

One Madison-area ALEC hater has posted an article about a letter insisting the limited-government organization influenced Republican Gov. Scott Walker to push for a tax break for moistened smokeless tobacco products — three years ago.

The online bazaar that features everything in goods, services and personal connections, from truly remarkable fetishes to “Adult Drunk Clown,” is now peddling in political history. So much for ALEC’s famous sway over Republicans: Walker vetoed this “glaring demonstration of the group’s influence,” a fact acknowledged by perhaps the biggest ALEC hater out there.

The Craiglist entry, first posted at 9:57 a.m. Sept. 27, is headlined, “ALEC Letter to Scott Walker Exposes Influence, Denial (Smarter than repukes). It’s hard to know exactly just what the parenthetical jab is supposed to mean, but that is often the case in such forums of the bitter and civilly challenged.

HUH? ALEC haters push political history on Craigslist – and get it wrong.

Included for good measure, a photo sure to elevate the marketplace of ideas: A demonstrator holding a hand-printed sign stating, Snot Walker Corrupt Evil Koch Whore.

The article asserts an “ALEC Director,” Courtney O’Brien, sent Walker a letter June 20, 2011, congratulating the new governor on the Republican-controlled Legislature’s passage of a budget amendment with a provision that benefited the tobacco trade.

Said communication is a “glaring demonstration of the group’s influence and desire to remain underground while imposing their influence,” the article’s author, Scott Wittkop, writes in a June 24, 2011, post for the blogsite Badger Democracy.

Wittkopf is co-founder of several progressive organizations, including the “Wisconsin Freedom Campaign,” a “collaborative effort to bring about a New Enlightenment in Wisconsin policy and politics through the understanding and application of cognitive science,” according to the site. “The WFC is involved with progressives all over Wisconsin to create a new structure and method of communicating progressive ideas and values to move policy forward.”

Walker ultimately vetoed the tax change, as perhaps the governor’s and ALEC’s biggest loathers, the Madison-based Center for Media and Democracy , and its ALEC Exposed, was forced to admit, although sneeringly.

“Apparently, Governor Walker doesn’t have the same craving to get kids hooked on tobacco that presently afflicts at least two of his Republican colleagues,” the organization wrote on its website. CMD noted that more than a dozen public health groups, including the American Cancer Society, lobbied the governor to veto the change, and he listened.

The left-leaning group noted that “in 1996 (Walker) spearheaded a campaign to allow local governments to impose strict guidelines limiting teen access to cigarettes, such as eliminating the use of cigarette vending machines.”

Walker’s veto would seem to fly in the face of the oppressive influence ALEC has on its members.

But why post the article on Craigslist now, more than three years later? That is the resounding animus the left and defenders of big government have for an organization that espouses free markets, limited government and federalism, and pools the ideas of its like-minded members to create policy ideas.

Here’s another relevant point lost in the vitriol of cyberspace: Courtney O’Brien hasn’t worked for ALEC in nearly three years, according to organization spokesman Bill Meierling.

“While ALEC is unaware of who or how a three-year-old letter was posted on Craigslist, this illustrates the ongoing trend of dredging up past action to damage a future-focused organization,” he said in an email to Wisconsin Reporter. “The question is: Are we prison guards of the past or pioneers of the future? While activist organizations dwell in the past, ALEC is moving forward to expand its unique public-private partnership and illustrate the value of exchange between the public and private sector.”

Meierling said the “willful disregard for the truth exhibited by so many activist organizations clearly illustrates a desire for destruction rather than provocative, collaborative exchange and debate.”