ALEC on Annual Meeting Speaker David Horowitz
Common Cause and Documented Investigations (an offshoot of the Center for Media and Democracy) have launched a corporate pressure campaign with the news that Verizon had ended its ALEC membership. The article alleges the organization and its members are racists. As you know, this is patently false. In the lead up to the mid-term elections, this effort is intended to set a burgeoning organization and its supporters into disarray. Please see a detailed account of the event and steps ALEC has taken below:
In early August, ALEC hosted nearly 1,500 state legislators and stakeholders at the 45th ALEC Annual Meeting in New Orleans. The meeting included keynote addresses from national policy leaders including federal cabinet secretaries and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, among other prominent state executives. During the successful and energizing five-day meeting, ALEC hosted nearly 100 speakers. One speaker’s—David Horowitz—remarks have been the subject of negative attention.
ALEC has a longstanding tradition of working collaboratively with meeting supporters to position speakers on issues of national importance. In this case, the speaker’s topic at the meal session and subsequent workshop was to be a Federal Balanced Budget Amendment. ALEC has worked with Convention of States over several years and welcomed sponsored speakers including Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Senator Tom Coburn to speak on the same issue.
ALEC takes speaker vetting seriously. Each speaker is apprised of the ALEC policy focus, how to address the audience and what issues not to discuss. ALEC does not work on social issues. Rather it focuses on limited government, free markets and federalism at the intersection of the economy and public policy.
Speakers have always followed our protocols and been respectful of the ALEC audience and its nonpartisan, business-minded perspective. Horowitz’s comments were inconsistent with ALEC messaging and public policy positions and did not comport with speaker guidelines.
Steps Taken By ALEC
Because the speech was inconsistent with the ALEC mission and values, minutes after the conclusion of the speech, ALEC staff removed the video archive of the speech and ceased communication/promotion of the speech and the speaker. In the weeks after the meeting’s conclusion, ALEC received no inquiries from the media. We believe we took the appropriate action at the time.
On August 26, Common Cause and a coalition of progressive groups sent a letter to more than 20 ALEC member companies alleging ALEC was complicit in spreading racist ideas. It should be noted; the Common Cause letter employs a similar narrative with a nearly identical coalition of letter-signers as every letter issued over the past decade targeting ALEC members.
On September 10, ALEC made a public statement at ALEC.org.
As ALEC livestreamed meal session speakers this year (part of the organization commitment to transparency), others captured the livestream, and as a result the video can still be found in the public domain.
What You Need to Know
- ALEC does not condone hate speech of any kind.
- ALEC follows a standard vetting process for all speakers. The speaker did not follow that process. ALEC will take steps to enhance the process and ensure speakers confine remarks to limited government, free market and federalism-focused issues.
- ALEC goes to great lengths to be transparent. In this case, that transparency is being used against the organization.
- ALEC does not share the perspective of the speaker. To allege otherwise is not only false, it is harmful to public discourse and American democracy.
- The groups involved in this anti-corporate, anti-legislator campaign intend to use polarizing language and allegations to drive a wedge into our valuable and impactful public-private partnership.
- ALEC believes in limited government, free markets, federalism and the right for people and organizations to engage one another—and to disagree.