[Marxism] NC Democratic Party chair hopeful is active in ALEC

Louis Proyect 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 
gun laws.

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 
Trayvon Martin.

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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