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Beltway Confidential

ALEC not invited to hearing on legislation it helped write

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Beltway Confidential,Congress,Senate,Democratic Party,Ashe Schow,First Amendment,Trayvon Martin,Stand Your Ground,Dick Durbin

Sen. Dick Durbin will hold a hearing Tuesday to discuss the controversial “Stand Your Ground” laws – which the American Legislative Exchange Council helped write and implement – but did not invite ALEC to testify.

“The American Legislative Exchange Council is concerned over what misrepresentations might be made at next week’s hearing,” the group wrote. “In the past three months, Sen. Durbin has three times associated ALEC with issues unrelated to the organization in an attempt to marginalize and demonize the organization.

“His eagerness to target ALEC and the 33 million workers ALEC members employ closely mirrors the IRS targeting of conservative groups that Senator Durbin just recently condemned.”

Durbin, an Illinoisan and the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, wrote to ALEC members and supporters in August, demanding to know whether they still support the stand your ground laws and whether they gave any money to ALEC in 2013.

A nonprofit that helps state leaders develop model legislation, ALEC hasn’t advocated for stand your ground laws in more than a year, yet it is still the focus of attacks by opponents of the law, which received national attention during the recent George Zimmerman trial. Of course, the law wasn’t used as a defense, but that didn’t stop it from being a focal point.

Durbin will read the responses he received from ALEC supporters during his hearing, but did not invite ALEC to actually testify.

After the letter was sent, the Wall Street Journal wrote a scathing editorial claiming that Durbin was essentially trying to tie ALEC supporters to controversy simply because they support the conservative group.

“Mr. Durbin knows that if he can drive a wedge between ALEC and its corporate donors, it will help cripple the group's influence on issues like tax policy and education and remove a significant voice for conservative reform in the states, including Illinois,” wrote the WSJ.

ALEC initially responded to Durbin’s letter by calling the inquiry “a violation of the First and Tenth Amendments.”

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