Historian William Cronon’s Scholar as Citizen blog led to controversy last month when the Wisconsin Republican Party made an open records request for access to Professor Cronon’s emails from work. The University of Wisconsin-Madison, to its credit, said no. In fact, the brouhaha threatened to overshadow his interesting comments about the legislative group, American Legislative Exchange Council, aka ALEC. (See his study guide exploring the question “Who’s Really Behind Recent Republican Legislation in Wisconsin and Elsewhere?”) It made me wonder if there’s some reason Cronon’s comments about ALEC made someone uncomfortable.
I tried to find out who in my state legislature might be a member, and began looking up the names that popped up.
Strange! Here’s what came up
A former sheriff with radio-station experience who owns and manages a marketing and motivation company who, according to rumor, called President Obama a “power hungry arrogant black man” and tried to link Democrats to pedophilia.
A former corrections officer. A firearms safety instructor. A self-employed direct marketing man with military and ICBM experience. A woman who has been criticized for targeting education “programs that directly support children with disabilities, poor children and children of color.”
Several members of the Liberty Caucus, which lists other friendly national groups such as the John Birch Society, the Club For Growth, Judicial Watch, and the Tenth Amendment Center – that’s allied with states rights health-care nullification.
Is ALEC like this everywhere?