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    Color of Change again threatens companies participating in ALEC

    Color of Change again threatens companies participating in ALEC

    Extortion is the new social justice.

    We’ve written before about the bully tactics utilized by organizations like Color of Change in order to achieve their political aims.

    These tactics are not just abusive and opinion-supressive. They’re effective.

    Major companies like Amazon and Wal-Mart have already cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in the face of pressure from the left. Since then, many more have followed suit and anti-ALEC organizations are just giddy.

    Just in time for summer, Americans can cut their grass with a John Deere mower, drink a cold Miller High Life, and buy sunscreen from CVS without fear that their consumer dollars will be used to fund policies like voter suppression and climate change denial, now that Deere & Co., MillerCoors, and CVS have dropped their membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

    The Washington Free Beacon has shed some light on the tactics being utilized by Color of Change in their campaign to silence ALEC, which are tantamount to extortion but carefully couched in terms meant to avoid criminal liability for threatening to damage reputation:

    The methods employed by anti-ALEC groups could be described as not unlike extortion, experts say.

    Color of Change, a “social justice” nonprofit headed by 9/11 Truther and former Obama green jobs czar Van Jones, has been at the front of the “name-and-shame campaign,” which seeks to pressure ALEC’s corporate sponsors into dropping their membership in the organization.

    “To date, we have not publicly highlighted [your] involvement with ALEC,” Color of Change executive director Rashad Robinson wrote to a corporate member of ALEC in a June 25 letter obtained by the Free Beacon. “However, we plan to do so and wanted to make you aware of the next steps in our campaign.”

    “We have commissioned a series of radio ads to make consumers aware of [your] relationship with ALEC and the policies it supports,” Robinson continues. “We plan to begin running these ads soon on Black radio stations across the country. We will also make the media aware of this ad campaign.”

    “If [redacted] is reconsidering its relationship with ALEC, please contact Color of Change’s Director of Strategy, Gabriel Rey-Goodlatte, as soon as possible,” Robinson warns. “We would appreciate a response within one week.”

    Using the irrational yet familiar charge of racism when faced with political difference of opinion, radical left-wing groups like Color of Change are picking away ALEC’s revenue stream piece by piece.

    These attacks are growing both in number and frequency, and they need to be stopped.  The question is how.


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    Might be a good idea to form a counter-group, called the “Smart ALECs.”

    Notgonnasay | August 20, 2012 at 12:04 am

    Any way we can trademark as “Color of Chains”. Then link anything with color of change/Joe Biden/Obama, etc to the video of dumb *ss Joe making his remarks? Just a thought. When he said those remarks, the first thing i thought of was ALEC and what commie Van Jones and company are trying to do to them.

    J Motes | August 20, 2012 at 5:25 am

    All of the previous comments have focused on how the corporations that support ALEC might fight back against the threats issued by Color of Change. CofC vows to reveal a corporation’s support of ALEC if the corporation doesn’t stop supporting ALEC, with the intended result that the public will stop buying the corporation’s product and thereby inflict a financial penalty upon the corporation. The comments here have discussed laws covering extortion, First Amendment rights, etc., in an effort to explain how corporations that have been warned might wage a defensive or an offensive response to stop Color of Change.

    It seems to me that a second avenue of action would be equally, if not more, important. The threat to corporations is of a secondary nature: the potential for loss of customers. However, we have seen in recent days that threats to conservative businesses can backfire — Chick-fil-A experienced record sales, and the companies that bailed out on Rush suffered losses while Rush did not — so Color of Change might not be able to cause as much financial loss to the targeted corporations through declining sales as they think. Color of Change would have to influence the buying decisions of hundreds of thousands of individuals who have already shown that they are sick to death of these bullying tactics.

    In contrast, the threat to ALEC is of a primary nature: shutting down its financial support. Color of Change need influence the donation decisions of only a small number of corporations to do great damage to ALEC’s ability to fund its operations. It therefore makes perfect sense for Color of Change to focus its efforts on changing the behavior of ALEC’s donors, rather than on an indirect and possibly ineffective effort to change the behavior of the donors’ customers. The damage to ALEC is much more immediate than the potential for damage to its corporate donors, so I think that ALEC might have the better case to bring against Color of Change, particularly since ALEC is being singled out not for doing anything for illegal, but simply for acting to promote political ideas that differ from Color of Change’s. I am not a lawyer, however, and have no knowledge that would allow me to assess, refine, or reject an approach that seems to be common sense to a non-lawyer.

    I would be interested in learning more from other commenters on this thread about ways that ALEC could fight back more effectively.

      From an effectiveness standpoint, the only way I see ALEC fighting back directly would be to contact the organizations who are considering or have actually left the organization and basically make a counter-threat to what Color of Change has made.

      Basically for ALEC to say to their former members “If you decide to leave the organization, we will take out radio and TV ads in major markets that say you caved to Liberal-Marxist pressure to abandon support of sound, well thought out Voter ID laws designed to prevent voter fraud. And we have MUCH more support among the American People for OUR ideas than they do for their ideas. Choose wisely.”

      While limiting the decision to pure economics (which group is going to cause you to lose less business), that threat doesn’t do much for you in getting companies or groups to like you or support your cause.

      As for a court case on behalf of ALEC directly: ALEC probably doesn’t have “standing” to go after Color of Change directly in a Court action, because ALEC isn’t the one being extorted. Yes, they feel the effects of that extortion in the form of smaller membership and less money, but that is a secondary effect.

      They might have a civil claim for “tortious interference with business relations.” The problems with that start to arise with definitions of if the transactions involved require a “profit motive” (ALEC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit) and if it requires “contractual relations” (in order to be able to deduct donations there cannot be a “contractual requirement” of a donation).

      Those are my initial thoughts. Rags? Any of the other lawyers here have input?

        Ragspierre in reply to Chuck Skinner. | August 20, 2012 at 2:51 pm

        I have some reservations…as a true capitalist…about putting companies in this kind of nutcracker.

        From a pure Friedman standpoint, a company has but one mission…to maximize long-term returns on owner equity. They have no business (heh!) in any other pursuit.

        ALEC has, seemingly, acknowledged that they succumbed to mission-creep, and have dialed back their focus, which I think is good.

        Now, what to do about COC? This may seem way too tame for some of the more red-in-the-tooth (and delusional) here, but maybe the best response is the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day response. Which is NOT constrained by the inadequacies of law, does not ask the criminal law to FURTHER invade our general culture, is effective, and makes a statement that even MOST of the public recognize.

        That, of course is not the SOLE response that I think would be effective. ALEC could easily mount a PR campaign…much of it involving free exposure via the news media…to expose the ugly tactic here.

        Van Jones is WONDERFULLY attack-able in the public arena, and VOTERS support voter integrity laws BY FAR.

    theyjustcantstop | August 20, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    i’m no lawyer but can’t alec do like the democrat pacs do change your 501c,to another 501 status where donors are anoymous?

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