After a month of bitter protests and a wave of defections by its corporate members, last week the special-interest-sponsored legislation mill known as ALEC disbanded its Public Safety and Elections Task Force. That’s the unit that crafted the controversial “stand your ground” laws and voter ID measures that ignited the national conversation about Trayvon Martin and minority voters’ access to polls. Liberal groups, like ThinkProgress, hailed the development as a “progressive victory.” But now, another scandal-plagued right-wing group is stepping in to fill the gap. The National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative Washington think tank, has announced plans to launch a task force to take over ALEC’s work on election issues. “Part of the mission of the National Center is to find out where the conservative movement is weak and to insert ourselves in the process,” the group’s executive director, David Almasi, told Salon. “Our aim is to make sure ALEC’s excellent work continues.”
Historically, the National Center, which was founded in 1982, has served mostly as a cog in the hard right’s messaging machine rather than an activist front. (Salon’s Andrew Leonard once noted that the group “makes the Cato Institute look like a hotbed of raving Trotskyist revolutionaries.”) But it shares some things in common with ALEC. Until his death in 2008, ALEC co-founder Paul Weyrich worked hand-in-hand with the National Center president, Amy Ridenour. She was a member of Weyrich’s Coalitions for America, which held weekly agenda-setting meetings for conservative groups. When the National Center purchased its headquarters building just blocks from Capitol building in 2004, it named the ground floor in Weyrich’s honor. ALEC and the National Center also draw funding from an overlapping pool of ideologically driven funders, including Exxon Mobil, the John M. Olin Foundation and various Scaife family funds.
Full Article: Voter ID’s new champion – Salon.com.