ALEC's Strategy for Tough Questioning: Evade and Reframe

Since ALEC’s agenda has come to light, the organization has found itself playing defense. So far, 14 corporations and numerous member legislators have withdrawn their support in recent weeks as a result of the intense media scrutiny and public campaigns focused on exposing the organization’s extreme policies and shadowy practices. A newly released ALEC internal memo describes how they plan to deal with the endless onslaught of tough questioning from the press and the American people:

Change the subject.

A memo obtained by Common Cause and published by The Huffington Post, instructs ALEC members to essentially ignore tough questions about ALEC’s workings: “The following information is designed to help you navigate away from those tough questions and get back to talking about policy," says the memo, "If you are asked any of these questions, acceptable responses are provided, but please then direct the conversation back to the policy to which you want to discuss."

The memo also provides a few sample questions from the media that ALEC members can expect to face. They are actually pretty good questions:

• Didn't ALEC actually write this legislation in conjunction with private corporations and then convince state legislators to pass it throughout the country?

• Isn't this just a front for big corporations to push their legislative policies on policy makers?

• Isn't this just another way for big corporations to lobby behind closed doors?

• I see the huge cost for private companies and the minimal cost for legislators. Why the difference and doesn't this jus [sic] prove that big corporations run ALEC?

• How much does __________ contribute to ALEC? I've seen figures in the hundreds of thousands. Reports suggest __________ have been contributed to ALEC.

• Isn't it true that Koch (or insert other members' names) provided ALEC over $500,000 in funding over the past few years?

• Your corporate members are the real ones pushing the issues and controlling ALEC, aren't they? They do give the most money.

The suggested answers, on the other hand, are evasive and disingenuous and are designed to help steer the conversation toward a favorable discussion of ALEC policies. But as ALEC has discovered, the much-deserved scrutiny of their operations and agenda won’t be easily shaken.

PFAW