ALEC Tries to Silence Critics, Threatens Legal Action Against Common Cause
- Dale Eisman
‘Cease and Desist’ letter from corporate lobby is meritless, Common Cause President asserts
Facing unprecedented public scrutiny and a parade of desertions by some of the nation’s largest corporations, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is threatening potential legal action in an attempt to silence one of its critics – Common Cause.
An attorney for the corporate lobby group has sent a “cease and desist” letter demanding that Common Cause retract statements that ALEC is denying climate change or else face possible legal action.
“ALEC’s demands and legal threats are an effort to shut down debate about its policies and matters of national importance. They seek to chill our right to advocate for the public interest,” said Miles Rapoport, President of Common Cause. “It won’t work.”
Attorneys at WilmerHale, representing Common Cause, responded in a letter last week that Common Cause’s statements are “legitimate assertions of opinion” that are “intended to foster greater national awareness and uninhibited, robust discussion around a critical public policy issue,” and that the organization stands by the fairness and accuracy of its statements.
ALEC’s letter claims that it does not deny climate change, and cites its 1998 model legislation acknowledging that “human activity has and will continue to alter the atmosphere oFf the planet,” which “may lead to demonstrable changes in climate.” (Emphasis added).
However, ALEC’s letter to Common Cause omits the next two sections of that model legislation, which go on to say:
(C) Such activity may lead to deleterious, neutral, or possibly beneficial climatic changes.
(D) Further, a great deal of scientific uncertainty surrounds the nature of these prospective changes, and the cost of regulation to inhibit such changes may lead to great economic dislocation. (Emphasis added).
In their response to ALEC, Common Cause’s attorneys point out that climate denial is well understood in the high-profile public debate to include those who “question or cast doubt on the scientific evidence regarding climate change or its impact.”
“We stand by our opinion, will continue to participate in these important national debates and will not be strong-armed into silence,” Rapoport said.
A Common Cause fact sheet on ALEC and climate change is available here.