ALEC, or the American Legislative Exchange Council, has become something of a bête noire of the left. Alongside the Koch brothers, ALEC is apparently behind every nefarious deed in American politics these days, if our friends on the left are to be believed.
Of course, ALEC is also pretty darn effective at advancing the cause of limited government and free markets through state government, especially given the growing Republican dominance at the state level. Which is no doubt why the left hates groups like ALEC.
And why, after years of belittling ALEC for doing stuff like organizing conservative lawmakers and proposing model legislation, they’re setting up their own ALEC. They’re calling it SIX, or the State Innovation Exchange, and I suspect they’ll be doing a lot of the same stuff.
Only they won’t be so evil and corporate-y, according to North Dakota State Senator Tim Mathern, a Democrat from Fargo who attended the first conference put on by the group. Mathern told the Daily Beast that he was proud of the fledgling liberal organization for being so open to the press:
Tim Mathern, a longtime North Dakota state Senator came to the event thinking that it was “all about licking our wounds.” Instead, he was pleasantly surprised at the conversation, which is all about picking up new skills to appeal to a skeptical electorate. Mathern was excited that the group was going to be so different from ALEC, which he derided as a “heavily corporately funded” group run on a “corporate model.” He thought SIX would be different. After all, there were tables for press while, at ALEC, we were told the “press was evil.” Mathern thought the test be in a couple years, “if you’re still going to have these press tables here” or if reporters were getting “kicked out.”
Sounds nice, but then irony struck:
Within ten minutes of that statement, The Daily Beast’s reporter at the event was asked to leave the hotel ballroom. It was now closed press.
Also, to Mathern’s point about the corporate backers of ALEC, it’s worth noting that the advisory board of the group is chock-full of big labor groups like the SEIU, the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Teachers, and more.
Which is fine. Those sort of groups have every right to organize themselves and advance their policy agenda. But why is ok for them to do it, but not business interests?