We’ve exposed them for running a tax scam and a secretive “war on democracy.” We’ve documented how their “scholarship” program works as a slush fund to cover the cost of trips to luxury resorts for state legislators and how their corporate members ghostwrite legislation. We’ve worked with allies to successfully encourage dozens of corporations to abandon them.
But it wasn’t until Common Cause tackled the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) attempts to frustrate state clean energy initiatives and undercut the scientific consensus linking man-made carbon emissions to climate change that we really got their attention.
As The Washington Post reported on Monday, ALEC’s lawyers have delivered “cease and desist” letters demanding that Common Cause and the League of Conservation Voters stop referring to ALEC as a climate change denier. The letters warn that ALEC may take legal action – a defamation suit – unless Common Cause and LCV retract the charge.
Common Cause and LCV aren’t backing down, both told the Post. Common Cause President Miles Rapoport says ALEC is trying to strong-arm its critics into silence. Common Cause’s lawyers have sent ALEC a lawyerly reply that can be boiled down to two words: Forget it!
Keep this in mind while you’re reading. In claiming that it has been defamed, ALEC delivered a second, unspoken message: the “debate” over climate change is over and the deniers have lost. Let me explain.
According to Webster, to be defamatory a statement must be false AND must “make people have a bad opinion of someone or something.” So ALEC is saying that claims it is a climate denier are a stain on its reputation.
Now the only way that being a climate denier could damage your reputation is if the science behind climate change is so solid, so accepted, that in denying it you invite ridicule from pretty much everyone. If there was any legitimate uncertainty about the science, denial would be perfectly reasonable – and thus an accusation that one was a denier could not be defamatory.
So there you have it. After repeatedly hosting presentations that spotlighted the views of climate science skeptics, backing “model” bills aimed at undercutting the development of clean energy, and in 2014 choosing a national chairman who has called global warming “bad science,” ALEC wants a public make-over so that its more responsible corporate members will stop running for the exits..
Nice try ALEC. But until you stop blowing smoke to obscure science, pushing legislation from the fossil fuel industry’s playbook, and valuing profits more than the planet, nobody will be fooled.
Office: Common Cause National
Issues: More Democracy Reforms