[Marxism] NC Democratic Party chair hopeful is active in ALEC
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri May 4 11:56:55 MDT 2012
SPECIAL REPORT - NC Democratic Party chair hopeful is active in ALEC
By Chris Kromm
North Carolina Democrats are looking for a good leader, and the
stakes couldn't be higher. The party's national convention in
Charlotte is three months away, the state will be a key 2012
battleground in November, and the current state chair is expected
to step aside soon amidst a sexual harassment scandal roiling the
Enter state Sen. Don Vaughan of Greensboro, who this week became
the first to announce his bid for state Democratic Party chairman.
In a statement, Vaughan burnished his credentials as a two-term
state senator, veteran of Greensboro politics and leader in "the
party that built North Carolina's schools, North Carolina's 21st
century economy, and North Carolina's reputation as the civil
rights leader in the South."
But more controversially for state Democrats, Vaughan has also
been a long-time member of the American Legislative Exchange
Council (ALEC), the conservative and largely Republican-led
advocacy group that has ignited controversy -- and recently lost
key funders -- due to its role in pushing controversial voting and
Founded in 1973 by right-wing activist Paul Weyrich, ALEC solicits
funding and advice from corporate backers to develop model
legislation, which is then used by conservative lawmakers to craft
state legislation -- often verbatim. The conservative
philanthropist Koch brothers have given at least $1 million to the
group, as well as loaned the group another half-million when they
were economically floundering.
In the last month, at least 13 companies, as well as the Bill and
Melinda Gates Foundation, have pulled their support from ALEC due
to the group's leadership in pushing controversial laws like
restrictive voting ID bills and Florida's "Stand Your Ground"
measure, which drew attention after the February 2012 shooting of
Nationally, Democrats involved in ALEC -- few to begin with --
have been distancing themselves from the group. On April 25, South
Carolina Rep. Ted Vick (D) announced he was quitting because the
group had become "too extreme."
But so far, Sen. Vaughan has apparently made no public effort to
disavow his ALEC connections.
Vaughan has reportedly been a member of ALEC since the 1980s.
According to Sourcewatch, a website run by the watchdog Center for
Media and Democracy, more than 40 North Carolina legislators are
involved with the group, but only three Democrats. Vaughan is the
only Democratic state senator linked to ALEC.
Vaughan's connection to ALEC appears to center around education
policy. According to an internal ALEC memo obtained by Common
Cause, in December 2010 Sen. Vaughan was one of 18 legislators
nationally who attended an Ohio meeting of ALEC's Education Task
Force, of which Vaughan is a member.
Terry Stoops of the John Locke Foundation, a think tank largely
funded by the family foundation of GOP donor Art Pope, later
reported that Vaughan "introduced model legislation" to the ALEC
education task force.
The secrecy surrounding ALEC's model bills and operations make it
difficult to track their influence in North Carolina. In 2011,
legal advocates saw ALEC's fingerprints on a bill that would have
given pharmaceutical companies immunity from liability for the
adverse effects of drugs approved by the Food and Drug
Administration -- a measure taken "word for word" from ALEC,
according to one observer.
ALEC also coordinates with the network of conservative North
Carolina groups backed by Art Pope. Daren Bakst, director of legal
and regulatory stories at the John Locke Foundation, is also chair
of ALEC's energy and natural resources subcommittee. Together, the
Locke Foundation and ALEC have hosted forums that deny the
scientific consensus about climate change and oppose clean energy
ALEC clearly sees North Carolina as increasingly important to its
operations. On May 11, just days after the state primary
elections, ALEC will be hosting a national meeting of its Tax and
Fiscal Policy Task Force in Charlotte.
A call to Sen. Vaughan's office for comment was not immediately
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