In this episode of Occupied Thoughts, FMEP’s Lara Friedman speaks to investigative journalist David Armiak about the role of the American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC, in drafting, promulgating, and promoting legislation in U.S. states targeting values-based protest and grassroots activism. These legislative efforts in the first instance targeted Palestine-related protest and free speech, but today have evolved into legislation targeting protest and free speech that relates to literally any industry or group that states might want to protect, all under the umbrella of fighting against “woke capitalism” and combating those who seek to hold the private sector accountable to concerns about the environment, social issues like human rights, and governance issues — aka ESG.
Recorded December 15, 2022 | Watch on YouTube
David Armiak is research director with the Center for Media and Democracy. David joined CMD in 2015, has conducted extensive investigations on dark money, corporate corruption, and right-wing networks, and is responsible for filing and analyzing hundreds of public records requests every year. David has a strong research interest in social movements and political power, and has delivered many talks on the subject. He has a Bachelor’s degree in philosophy and anthropology from Boston University and a Master’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Follow him on Twitter at @duboo; and follow his work at exposedbycmd.org & alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed
David Armiak articles (related to this podcast)
- ALEC Doubles Down on Punishing ESG Firms December 9th, 2022)
- ALEC Lawmakers and Corporate Lobbyists Meet in D.C. to Debate Rewriting the Constitution, Punishing Socially Responsible Businesses, and Protecting Misinformation (November 30th, 2022)
- ALEC Eyes Sweeping Government Blacklists (November 10th, 2022)
- Republican State Financial Officers Bring ESG Fight to Washington (November 3rd, 2022)
- Abandoning Free Market and Liberty Principles, ALEC Takes on “Woke Capitalism,” Bodily Autonomy, and More at Its Annual Meeting (July 27th, 2022)
- Revealed: New Leaders of Council for National Policy Set Extremist Agenda (March 11th, 2022)
- Republican Group of State Financial Officers Takes on Woke Capitalism
- (February 16th, 2022)
- ALEC’s “Critical Energy Theory” Bills Moving in Four States (February 8th, 2022)
Other receipts/resources mentioned in the podcast
- FMEP research/data table: Free Speech-Quashing Laws Based on Israel-Focused Anti-Boycott Laws + Related Articles (at end of table)
- 11/30/22 email from Jason Isaac/Texas Public Policy Foundation, stating, “This morning at the ALEC Task Force Meetings for Energy, Environment and Agriculture (EEA); and Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development (CIED) you’ll have the opportunity to push back against woke globalist financial institutions that are colluding against and denying capital to American businesses while investing in Chinese companies with, laughably, higher ESG ratings. Texas Representative Dennis Paul has introduced model policy, which has previously passed both of these task forces, and is based on anti-BDS legislation supported by ALEC regarding Israel….”
- ALEC draft model bill, the Eliminate Political Boycotts Act (dated December 2022) [closely resembles bills introduced in 2022 in Idaho and Minnesota)
- Florida state Rep. Randy Fine’s 8/18/19 email to a Joe Sabag, the Executive Director of the Israeli American Council for Action — cc’d to a list including lawmakers from Oklahoma, North Carolina, Kansas, and Arkansas, promoting Florida’s new antisemitism law according to which “Students for Justice in Palestine is now treated the same way as the Ku Klux Klan”. Also included is Sabag’s reply-all: “Thank you Randy! Friends: As we saw in FL and South Carolina, this bill requires a lot of resourcing in order to achieve a clean passage. My legal team has now taken Randy’s bill and refined it into a model that can be brought elsewhere. I urge you to please contact me or Rep. Alan Clemmons [who in 2019 was ALEC’s national chairman] and take advantage of our policy support if you are considering filing a bill. We are here to serve.”
- ALEC press release 2018 – ALEC Legislators Sign Letter to Reiterate Commitment to Free Market and Against Discriminatory Policies – Anti-BDS Free Market Policies Only Way to Ensure a Strong Israel
Related FMEP podcasts
12/6/22: Promoting Risk & Undermining Rights: Morningstar’s Betrayal of Palestine & ESG, ft. FMEP’s Lara Friedman in conversation with international legal expert in business and human rights Tara Van Ho about the current controversy involving the Chicago-based financial services company Morningstar Inc. and its subsidiary Sustainalytics, over how it deals with Israel and the Occupied Palestinian territories. Specifically, the podcast explores Morningstar’s recently adopted policy changes with respect to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues in the context of Israel, and the questions these new policies raise both about the company’s basic competence with respect to human rights in ESG research, analysis, and recommendations, and about the broader implications for the future of business and human rights work writ large.
11/21/22: Free Speech & Palestinian Rights – Both Weapons & Targets in the Battle Against ESG, ft FMEP’s Lara Friedman in conversation with internationally-acclaimed documentary filmmaker Julia Bacha about the growing campaign against “woke capitalism,” and specifically the attacks on what is known as ESG – shorthand for the movement to take environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into account in investing.