By now, the American Conservative’s editorial board should be well aware that a “kids, learn” approach to child welfare has been a staple of American political discourse for decades.
But the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a Washington-based organization that is the world’s leading ALEC Task Force on Child Development, has a long history of pushing a more aggressive agenda, even before the Trump administration took office.
ALEC is a corporate front group with a membership of around 600 corporate members, including major corporations like General Electric, Wal-Mart, IBM, and Pfizer, which collectively represent more than $400 billion.
In fact, the ALEC Task Forces are so influential that the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), a progressive nonprofit that works to promote accountability and transparency in the nation’s capital, called ALEC “the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in America.”
For instance, CMD has documented ALEC’s role in creating the “Protecting Kids From Crime Act,” which the group has used to weaken laws that protect children from violent crimes, including the Violence Against Women Act.
In a 2015 report on the task force, Cmd found that “the task force is one of the most influential corporate lobby groups in America, with a direct financial interest in promoting its agenda.”
And in a 2015 memo to members of the taskforce, ALEC vice president for communications John Bircher, described the group’s mission as “aiming to create a better future for children.”
“In short, we want to make sure that kids are able to live lives free of fear and uncertainty, free of violence and poverty,” Birchers wrote in a 2014 memo to ALEC’s Task Force.
ALEC’s efforts have not been limited to fighting child welfare.
The task force has also worked to undermine laws protecting LGBTQ Americans, including efforts to weaken anti-discrimination laws for LGBTQ employees and employees of LGBTQ-related businesses.
In the wake of the shooting of nine people at a LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in June 2016, the task group released a report titled “Protect Our LGBTQ Community from Hate and Discrimination: Protecting the LGBTQ Community From Hate and Disparagement.”
The report warned that efforts to pass hate-crimes bills that would protect LGBTQ people could have negative consequences for LGBTQ people, including potentially limiting their access to housing, employment, and public services.
The report said the LGBTQ community “has the most to lose” if hate crimes legislation is passed.
And it said that “passing a hate crime bill would not only undermine LGBTQ people’s civil rights, but could also make it harder for LGBTQ Americans to access equal protections under the law.”
“The bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator [Jeff] Flake of Arizona, has since been convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes charges stemming from his alleged role in the efforts to defeat an anti-hate-crime bill in 2016,” the report said.
“Since Flake was convicted, the Southern Poverty Law Center has been warning that the Republican-controlled state legislature could try to pass a bill that would deny LGBTQ people the protections of civil rights.”
And last year, ALEC worked with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents companies like Walmart, to craft a bill to allow employers to discriminate against LGBTQ employees, even if they’re transgender.
ALEC also worked closely with the Chamber of Business and the National Rifle Association, which in recent years has helped to craft policies and legislation aimed at restricting LGBTQ rights.
ALEC and its Task Forces have also pushed to weaken civil rights protections for women and racial minorities.
In 2018, for example, ALEC pushed to end the Obama administration’s Title IX guidance requiring colleges to use equal opportunity in hiring.
And in the past, ALEC has pushed to remove funding from community-based organizations that provide abortions and sterilizations.
“The agenda of the Task Force is to further the privatization of public education and its dismantling of public services, from public housing and social services to health care and public safety,” CMD’s Jennifer Pizer wrote in 2016.
“Its goal is to make education more privatized, to privatize public services for the benefit of private interests, and to privatise the schools themselves.”
“We need to put the interests of the private sector ahead of the needs of the public,” said ALEC Task-Force Vice President Tom Johnson in a statement to The Daily Beast.
“It’s about trying to cut the government out of every aspect of our lives.”
The Trump administration has been pushing to gut many of these priorities, as well.
In January, Trump signed an executive order that would “reopen” the U;T.C. (which had been closed for several years due to a lack of funding), eliminate the Office of Civil Rights, and dismantle the Obama-era federal Violence Against Woman (VAWA) law, which protects transgender people from workplace discrimination.
The administration also recently announced plans to “revamp” the federal Department of Education, eliminating the Office for Civil Rights and eliminating the Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (