April 23, 2011
On Monday, April 23, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) held a telephonic press conference to discuss what the group referred to as “the latest harassment tactic against ALEC by liberal front groups.” DBA Press founder, Beau Hodai, joined the call as a member of the press– only to discover (or rediscover) that the affinity he feels for ALEC is not reciprocated.
Hodai was kicked off the media conference call twice– both times after attempting to ask ALEC legal counsel Alan Dye a question. Following Hodai’s second attempt to ask the ALEC representative a question, a call operator informed him that he was being barred from the call because he was not a member of the “credentialed” media. Hodai informed the operator that he was, in fact, “credentialed” with the U.S. House of Representatives. After a momentary hold, the operator informed Hodai that ALEC would not permit him to rejoin the call– regardless of media credentials.
Hodai has been reporting on ALEC for nearly three years for publications such as: In These Times, PR Watch (of the Center for Media and Democracy), Extra! (of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), Prison Legal News and DBA Press. ALEC has, on multiple occasions, made its distaste for Hodai’s reporting abundantly clear.
The “latest harassment tactic” aimed at ALEC, as explained by Dye in both the conference and a concurrent press release, is a formal complaint submitted to the IRS by Common Cause.
The complaint, dated April 20, 2011, alleges that ALEC has engaged in “underreporting of lobbying and operation in furtherance of private corporate interests” in violation of the group’s tax-exempt status. In short, the Common Cause complaint accuses ALEC of tax fraud.
– Common Cause IRS whistle blower complaint:
Additionally– though not mentioned in the Dye press release– ALEC found itself the subject of a critical New York Times article published on April 22.
The article, written by the Times’ Mike McIntire (“Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist”) essentially outlined the arguments contained in the Common Cause IRS complaint through its own examination of ALEC operations in state legislatures. The article utilized records obtained from the offices of Ohio ALEC member lawmakers, shared with the Times and obtained by Common Cause through public records requests.
ALEC had been dogged by a cloud of negative press coverage the month preceding the press call, with articles airing to group’s dirty laundry in such mainstream publications as Time magazine. Such coverage, discussing ALEC’s relationship to “Stand Your Ground,” “Voter ID,” and immigrant detention ‘model legislation,’ has seemingly precipitated an exodus of corporate donors from the ALEC member roster.
“I wanted to ask Dye why he feels so many media outlets and ‘watchdog’ organizations have been critical of ALEC lately,” said a distraught Hodai, following his expulsion from the conference call. “I just wanted to know if the New York Times and Time are really just mouthpieces for liberal front groups… that would be scary. Liberal front groups really scare me…”
ALEC Director of Communications Kaitlyn Buss did not respond to phone calls or emails seeking comment from DBA Press.