Virginia Democrats are urging state legislators to leave a conservative group that has been under fire in recent weeks.
The decision regarding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) isn’t too surprising, but it does put party chairman Brian Moran at odds with his party.
Moran, former legislator and current chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, is a top ranking executive with a for-profit college group — the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities — that is an ALEC member.
Party leaders adopted a resolution at this weekend’s convention to urge legislators to leave ALEC, to both “expose and reverse or amend ALEC-drafted bills already passed in Virginia’’ and block future ALEC bills.
“Voters have a right to know whether the representatives they elect to work for the public good are actually writing the laws, or whether the job has been outsourced to big corporate interests whose mission to maximize profit and corporate power may be contrary to the public good,” the resolution states.
Members of ALEC, which calls itself a pro-business, free-market organization, include legislators and private companies. Corporate members pay fees, which give them a say on the group’s position on legislative issues.
Several corporations have halted their support of ALEC following scrutiny of “Stand Your Ground” self-defense laws after the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida. The group had lobbied for similar laws in other states.
Many Democrats across the state and nation have criticized the group that has been under fire in recent weeks.(The state party distributed a video recently of House Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford) insulting a liberal activist who had been critical of the group.)
Moran did not immediately return a call for comment Monday but told the Post last month he has never attended an ALEC event either as a legislator or representative of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities.
“I would not be comfortable there, nor would they probably want me there,’’ Moran said at the time. “I hold very different views from those espoused by ALEC.”
In recent days, 35 Virginia legislators — mostly Democrats, but some Republicans too — have announced that they are not members of ALEC.
The legislators responded to requests from constituents and the liberal group, ProgressVA, which asked them to state whether or not they are associated with the ALEC.
At least 115 current or former members of the Virginia General Assembly have ties to ALEC, either by sponsoring bills, attending conferences or paying membership dues, according to a study by the liberal group ProgressVA. The state has spent $232,000 during the past decade to send legislators, primarily members of the Republican-controlled House of Delegates, to ALEC conferences and meetings.
(The Washington Post Co. operates for-profit schools through its Kaplan subsidiary. Kaplan was previously a member of ALEC, but recently disclosed that it no longer is.)