Sunday, April 15, 2012

Gates Foundation Will No Longer Make Grants to ALEC Nonprofit

Gates Foundation Will No Longer Make Grants to ALEC Nonprofit

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation today became the latest backer to withdraw financial support for the American Legislative Exchange Council.
A foundation spokesman told Roll Call that it does not plan to make future grants to the conservative nonprofit, which has come under fire from progressive activists for its support of voter identification laws and other contentious measures.
The foundation, run by the co-founder of Microsoft Corp. and his wife, contributed more than $375,000 to ALEC in the past two years and was the target of an online petition launched today by the liberal Progressive Change Campaign Committee that garnered more than 23,000 signatures in a matter of hours.
“We have made a single grant, narrowly and specifically focused on providing information to ALEC-affiliated state legislators on teacher effectiveness and school finance,” said Chris Williams, the spokesman, noting that the foundation was never a dues-paying member. The foundation advocates for global health initiatives and efforts to reduce poverty.
It’s the latest in a string of victories for groups bent on persuading corporations and foundations to cut ties with ALEC, which helps corporations advance their public-policy agenda in state legislatures.
Last week, Kraft Foods Inc., Coca-Cola Co. and Intuit Inc. each said they would withdraw support. The announcements came after months of behind-the-scenes pressure from another liberal group, Color of Change, an African-American advocacy group.
Color of Change went public today with demands that AT&T Corp., one of ALEC’s 21 corporate board members, also sever ties with the organization. Over the past year, the group has reached out to 15 consumer product companies that back ALEC, highlighting the organization’s connections to voter ID laws passed in at least a half-dozen states.
Civil rights activists say the laws disproportionately target minority, student and elderly voters, who tend to vote Democratic, and could bar up to 5 million voters from the polls this fall. In recent weeks, other liberal groups have joined the effort.
Color of Change Executive Director Rashad Robinson said the group is using Internet appeals to pressure companies that have made explicit efforts to build a strong relationship with African-American customers.
“Our goal is to ensure that these companies can’t have it both ways,” he said. “AT&T touts its support of civil rights groups and unions, which ALEC works to weaken.”
A spokesman for AT&T declined to comment.
Color of Change went live Wednesday with a website targeting Coca-Cola for its support of ALEC. Within hours, the company pulled its membership. Later in the week, Kraft Foods and Intuit, which develops Quicken and QuickBooks software, followed suit.
The public debate over Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law connected to the slaying of Trayvon Martin gave the advocacy groups more leverage over the companies. ALEC, they said, was behind an effort to pass similar laws in other states.
ALEC has played down its ties to both sets of laws. A spokesman declined to comment on the withdrawal of funders.
“Our private members and legislators are independent thinkers and don’t necessarily agree on all policy initiatives from ALEC,” said Kaitlyn Buss, an ALEC spokeswoman.
Several corporate board members have remained steadfast in their support for the organization.
These companies argue that their participation is limited to issues that directly affect their business. They note that the organization is split into nine task forces made up of state legislators and private sector representatives that serve as a clearinghouse for the legislative proposals.
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the powerful Washington lobby for prescription drug manufacturers, told Roll Call it would continue to support the organization.
“PhRMA has a long history of partnering with and supporting diverse stakeholders and organizations who share our goals of helping patients access the medicines and care they need and fostering medical innovation,” Matthew Bennett, a senior vice president of the trade group, said in a statement to Roll Call. “As such, our involvement with ALEC concentrates on public health issues that directly relate to these goals.”
Dennis Bartlett, the executive director of the American Bail Coalition, another ALEC board member, said he has received upward of 3,000 e-mails prompted by the Color of Change campaign but has no plans to cut ties with ALEC because of the access it gives him to state legislators.
“I’m getting literally thousands of these ‘dump ALEC’ communications,” Bartlett told Roll Call. “They go directly into a spam folder.”

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Colbert Super PAC Super Fun Pack - Now With More Super Fun!

Colbert Super PAC

Dear Colbert Super PAC Inner Circle Members,

Thursday was historic. I think all of us will remember where I was on that day.

That's when I unveiled the new Colbert Super PAC Super Fun Pack, an exclusive kit that gives college students everything they need to start their own Super PACs. It is full of stuff young people love: federal election commission paperwork, detailed filing instructions, and more legal disclaimers than you can shake a stick at!*

Plus, the Colbert Super PAC Super Fun Pack also includes a "Turtles Don't Like Peanut Butter" T-Shirt, a pair of Colbert Super PAC socks, an official-seeming certificate, and a genuine Super PAC dorm room sign -- in stunning 2-D!

Today, I'm happy to announce we've sweetened the deal -- although not literally, as we discovered that cardboard boxes cannot withstand being filled with high fructose corn syrup. However, every Colbert Super PAC Super Fun Pack will now contain your very own miniature version of my trusted advisor, Ham Rove. Your "Hamlet" Rove is guaranteed to raise your political stature or, if eaten, your cholesterol.

And we've got a special bonus if you order right now (or any time after now): a genuine 24-carat aluminum decoder ring. That's a prize previously available only in fifty-year-old boxes of Cracker Jacks.

This decoder ring will come in handy when you follow the clues on the enclosed Colbert Super PAC Super Fun Pack Treasure Map to discover a hidden treasure -- and win your college a visit from me, Stephen Colbert. And as a special treat, I'll even allow students to make eye contact with me. Not even my masseuse gets that!

So put down your computer, get online, and head over to today for your Colbert Super PAC Super Fun Pack. Remember: You can't buy happiness, which is why, technically, the $99 for the Colbert Super PAC Fun Pack is just a "donation."

Ponzily yours,

Stephen Colbert
President and Chief Ham Canner Americans For A Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow

*Colbert Super PAC is not responsible for any injury resulting in stick-shaking, stick-waggling, stick-jabbing, stick-stickling, or dead-cat-swinging.

Paid for by Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow
Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

Party In the C.I.A.-Weird Al