Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Right-Wing Legislative Lobby Losing State Ground?

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Right-Wing Legislative Lobby Losing State Ground?

Article excerpt

HARRISBURG -- A liberal advocacy group is cheering a handful of state lawmakers for disassociating themselves from a conservative policy group, though some of the legislators being congratulated were surprised to find themselves on the list.

Keystone Progress is circulating a list of 18 state legislators - - including 10 Democrats -- who they say are no longer involved with the American Legislative Exchange Council. That right-leaning organization, also known as ALEC, has been the subject of criticism over its corporate donors and closed-door process for drafting model legislation.

Following a prominent shooting in Florida that sparked discussion on the state's "Stand Your Ground" law, which ALEC has supported, pressure reignited from liberal groups for corporate and legislative members to end their involvement with the organization and its policy proposals.

"We are thrilled that so many Pennsylvania legislators have decided to quit ALEC," said Keystone Progress executive director Michael Morrill in a recent statement. "They have courageously decided to stand with the people instead of the corporate lobbyists."

Not exactly, according to several of those listed as having severed their membership ties.

Only one of the lawmakers reached by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to discuss the list said his disaffiliation was related to the group's policies. Several others said they have not been active in the group for years, and at least one disputes a record indicating that he was a member.

State campaign finance reports from 2001 show a dues payment to ALEC from the campaign coffers of Democratic Rep. Harry Readshaw of Carrick. No interactions since then are publicly recorded, and Mr. Readshaw says he did not know he was affiliated with the group until he received emails urging him to quit.

"I have quit something that I never belonged to," he said. "I had no idea what they were talking about."

Democratic Rep. Nick Kotik of Robinson said he joined the group to hear more business perspectives but lacked the time to attend conferences. …

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