The annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council Aug. 7-9 at the Palmer House in Chicago drew 2,700 protesters who gathered outside the hotel and displayed banners in the hotel's lobby.
PR Watch, which says state legislators who attend the ALEC meetings are nearly 100% Republican and that the group is engaged in lobbying although not registered as a lobbyist, says ALEC’S meetings are "notoriously secretive."
PRW reporters have been banned from ALEC's meetings in the past and it relies on other press who gain entrance as well as Democratic legislators who “infiltrate” the meetings.
A reporter for The Economist was able to attend some of the workshops but was barred from the task force meetings where bills are considered that are later presented to state legislators.
PRW staffers Lisa Graves and Brendan Fischer accused Wall Street Journal editorial board member Stephen Moore of failing to disclose his ties to ALEC when writing editorials in favor of ALEC's agenda. He joined the board in 2005.
Moore Editorial Vs. Durbin Hit
PRW editor Graves said Moore should have disclosed his ALEC ties when he criticized Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) for examining ALEC's role in support of the "Stand Your Ground" legislation. That law was citied as a reason to prevent the arrest of George Zimmerman after he shot teenager Trayvon Martin.
Moore, said Graves, failed to disclose that since at least 2007 Moore has been on ALEC's "Board of Scholars," one of only five people with that designation. He also co-authored Rich States, Poor States, an ALEC publication that ranks states by how closely they follow "ALEC's ideal economic policies."
An Aug. 12 WSJ editorial by Moore is titled, "ALEC Strikes Back."
'NYT Close to Bankruptcy'
PRW sources who infiltrated the meeting brought out the following quotes by participants:
"The New York Times is close to bankruptcy."
Moore, at the plenary lunch Aug. 7, reportedly said, "What we really need is more rich people."
One workshop was titled: "Calling a Convention of the States: The Constitutional Check on the Abuses of Federal Power."
Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots and now head of Citizens for Self Governance, announced a project to encourage state legislatures to call an Article V Convention of the States to stop "the runaway train of the federal government."
A state representative from Arizona reportedly stood up and asked, "How do we utilize the John Birch Society for this effort?"