Talk:American Legislative Exchange Council

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Sources[edit]

ACCE[edit]

Secrecy[edit]

Education[edit]

Opinion source. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 06:42, 19 June 2014 (UTC)
Questionable reliability. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 06:47, 19 June 2014 (UTC)

Little known / largely unknown[edit]

There has been some back-and-forth over the sentence "Prior to 2011, ALEC's practices and its ties to specific pieces of legislation were little known outside of political circles," which was truncated to "ALEC's practices were largely unknown until July 2011." The source I based the first version on is The Atlantic and the relevant language is:

  • "...ALEC's existence has been long known but its practices, largely, have not..."
  • "For years, political types had vague notions of the state-to-state connections, but it was difficult to see the whole picture."
  • "Or, as Common Causes' Clopp put it, 'for 40 years you couldn't get the kind of accountability we're seeing know because ALEC, its members, its legislators, its bills were secret.'" (adoptive quote)

I believe either version is properly verified by this source language. If you disagree, please try to modify our language instead of deleting it outright. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 16:45, 14 July 2015 (UTC)

Good find. It should be restored then. Capitalismojo (talk) 21:26, 14 July 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just added archive links to 2 external links on American Legislative Exchange Council. Please take a moment to review my edit. If necessary, add {{cbignore}} after the link to keep me from modifying it. Alternatively, you can add {{nobots|deny=InternetArchiveBot}} to keep me off the page altogether. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, please set the checked parameter below to true to let others know.

N Archived sources still need to be checked

Cheers. —cyberbot IITalk to my owner:Online 07:43, 28 August 2015 (UTC)

Status of IRS investigation[edit]

This source says that the IRS investigation into ALEC"s tax exempt status is still open. Accordingly, I added that detail to our article. However, Arthur Rubin reverted with the edit summary: "mistake; there is actually no evidence that the IRS investigation ever started, only that it was asked for." I don't understand. We are including a reliably sourced fact. No reliable source contradicts it. This seems pretty straightforward. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 05:22, 20 September 2015 (UTC)

It seems a reliable source, except that, if there were an open investigation, it would be illegal for anyone in the IRS to mention it, absent a court order. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 14:26, 20 September 2015 (UTC)
On a contentious matter like this we should stick closely to the source, i.e., "to date, the IRS has taken no action." That's frustratingly ambiguous, but that's how it is. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 14:32, 20 September 2015 (UTC)
Please double-check the source. It does not say the IRS has taken no action. The source does say the investigation remains open. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 08:22, 21 September 2015 (UTC)
I can accept that. It's ambiguous, but we don't know what the source meant. We do know that any information 11alive has about an IRS investigation was not legally released, so we should be careful not to imply anything other than what the source said, and we need not include that if it cannot have come from a legitimate source. That 11alive is generally a reliable source does not mean it is in this instance. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 07:06, 21 September 2015 (UTC)
I'm baffled by your position. (i) How do we know it would be illegal for anyone to leak information about an ongoing IRS investigation? (ii) How would this have any impact on the reliability of the source? Information is illegally leaked to the press all the time. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 08:22, 21 September 2015 (UTC)
(i) I could quote the IRS Code section, but that would be original research. Suffice it to say that the actual TIGTA report on "IRSGate", of which we're misquoting a misquote, states exactly that. (ii) Which is more likely: A local TV reporter has a scoop on a national issue (which requires his/her source to have violated the law), or a local TV reporter made up a scoop on a national issue. I side with the latter, even if the station is normally considered reliable. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 13:48, 21 September 2015 (UTC)
(i) This is a completely different different issue. TIGTA is an oversight office that conducted an investigation into IRS activities. The ALEC investigation is an investigation into a private taxpayer. Please provide evidence (with links) that it would be illegal to disclose information about an open investigation of the type at issue here. (ii) Pure speculation and original research that has no place in an RS determination. I have never of heard a "generally" reliable outlet being deemed unreliable simply because an editor things it's "unlikely" they did some investigative reporting. Clearly they called ALEC and asked about it, and perhaps ALEC told them the investigation was still open. If we're at an impasse about this I'll take it to RSN. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 17:17, 21 September 2015 (UTC)

Sentence on mission in lede[edit]

For a long time there has been a sentence in the lede that conveys what the organization says is their mission. This format or approach is extremely common in wikipedia articles about non-profits. It has been removed with no solid explanation of why that change helps the article. Several of us clearly disagree with the removal. Perhaps we could discuss. Capitalismojo (talk) 16:21, 8 October 2015 (UTC)

I believe that we should use a description found in a WP:SECONDARY source rather than simply quoting promotional verbiage from their website. This is actually taken care of by the second paragraph of the lede. By the way, the quote is not found in the cited source, but it is found in this brochure.- MrX 16:51, 8 October 2015 (UTC)
Primary source material can be used in limited ways, this is an extremely common and useful such for non-profits of all stripes and flavors. Capitalismojo (talk) 19:48, 8 October 2015 (UTC)
I guess we disagree in this case. Let's see what others say.- MrX 19:54, 8 October 2015 (UTC)
I can certainly see both sides of the issue. I lean slightly toward inclusion in the first paragraph. The mission statement is informative and noteworthy because it concisely describes how ALEC markets itself. There are substantial discrepancies between what ALEC does and what ALEC says it does. A single, properly attributed sentence on the latter is noteworthy enough for inclusion in the lead section, and yes, in the first paragraph. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 20:04, 8 October 2015 (UTC)

Proposed wording change.[edit]

In the opening statement, where ALEC's secretive machinations were finally dragged into the public arena, the word "publicized" is used to describe this. I changed this to "exposed", since this is, in fact, what was done to this group, previously hidden from public knowledge. This change was reverted by Capitalismojo. ALEC has made a pernicious and collusive effort to subvert the legislative process by having paid industry lobbyists author legislation favorable to their employers. This was then presented, by legislators in collusion with them, as legitimate self-authored bills, in a concerted effort to rescind existing environmental, economic, and social regulations and legislation. This was done, deliberately and in secret, to further a national ultraconservative agenda. After the change was reverted by Capitalismojo, I rebutted as follows, on his (talk) page:

Given ALEC's secretive nature, aversion to transparency and "sunshine" provisions, and back-room lobbying (or "educating", if you're fond of obfuscation), as well as the referenced articles ("ALEC's Secrets Revealed; Corporations Flee" in Businessweek, and "Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist" in the NY Times), I feel that "exposed" is a much more appropriate verb than "publicized", and no more pejorative than the references themselves. So I DON'T think it violates WP Neutrality, since it echoes the previously accepted Refs. Publicized evokes the banality of a Public Relations Press Release. If these details were so benign and banal, then why was ALEC so secretive about them. In fact, I find the reference to the legislation written by industry lobbyists as "model" initiatives to be disingenuous at best, if not an outright prevarication. A significant portion of the electorate views ALEC as neither benign nor benevolent, which is why their influence has trouble bearing up under the light of public scrutiny. I feel the change is fair, and fully supported by the Refs, and it should stand. If you have a legitimate objection, I would like to hear it. Gil gosseyn (talk) 18:11, 8 October 2015 (UTC)

I received no substantive reply from Capitalismojo, just an admonishment that I should have replied to him on the ALEC (talk) page. The reason I replied on his talk page is that I have posed questions, etc. on various other subject's talk pages, and gotten no response. Since he seemed to be the primary editor of the ALEC page (as well as the person who reverted my change), I responded directly. My bad. The only reply I got on the subject of ALEC was from Dr. Fleischman. To wit:

FWIW I agree with Capitalismojo that "publicized" is slightly more neutral and in fact slightly more accurate than "exposed," which could be read to imply wrongdoing. The reliable sources say that ALEC's activities were in fact largely known to political operatives before 2011, thought they were unknown to the press and the public. The anti-ALEC groups did actually engage in a campaign to make this information more widely known to the public. It was in fact a public relations campaign, as banal as that sounds. And I have no problem with our prose being banal; in my view banal=encyclopedic. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 20:15, 8 October 2015 (UTC)


To this, I say, since it was the general public's interests that were being subverted by ALEC, and were up to that point unaware of these activities, I say that exposed is the perfect word to use. And that Dr. Fleischman doesn't see covert collusion with industry lobbyists and misrepresentation of authorship as "wrongdoing", puzzles me. And as to his finding banal = "encyclopedic", I disagree. To say "publicized" seems to me yet another example of the conservatives' intentional linguistic distortion, or "newspeak," popularized by such gems as Estate Tax = "Death Tax". I would also remind him that banal language has long been the bailiwick of those who wish to cloak their actions and intentions in innocuous nomenclature. One of the most notorious examples was "the wholesale slaughter of millions of religious and ethnic minorities" being described as the Final Solution. Gil gosseyn (talk) 02:50, 9 October 2015 (UTC) Edited Gil gosseyn (talk) 06:56, 9 October 2015 (UTC)

Gil gosseyn (talk) 07:10, 9 October 2015 (UTC)

Hm. I thought your comment was reasonable ... until I got to the last couple of sentences. The last sentence is completely contrary to our AGF guideline, which I urge you to read carefully. You are a relatively inexperienced editor, so please take my advice that accusing your fellow editors of have a "vested interest" in whitewashing articles doesn't get you far at all. I have personal views about ALEC that I do not share here and that are none of your business. But, if you take much effort go back through the edit history of this article or though the archives of this talk page, you will see that your assumptions about me and my "interests" are completely and utterly wrong. I suggest retracting portions of your comment if you don't want me to think you're here merely to create drama. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 05:20, 9 October 2015 (UTC)
Also, equating your fellow editors' arguments to Nazi propaganda is a bit over the top, don't you think? Especially when we're talking about the subtle distinction between the words "publicized" and "exposed." Perhaps you could benefit from a little... perspective. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 05:39, 9 October 2015 (UTC)
Gosseyn, you have no idea what you are talking about. Your assumptions and assertions are improper. This is not a blog or a soapbox for you to propound your theories or received truth, this is an encyclopedia. Capitalismojo (talk) 05:34, 9 October 2015 (UTC)

I apologize for any personal remarks I made, and have edited my statements accordingly. And I wasn't equating ANYONE'S arguments with Nazi propaganda, intentionally or unintentionally. Your positive position on "banal" just brought to mind the phrase "the banality of evil". The Neo-Con Republicans, especially Karl Rove, have made a fine art out of distorting the truth by couching things people find reprehensible in misleading and innocuous terms, i.e. "enhanced interrogation" instead of torture, "rendition" instead of kidnapping. That's the reason I advocate using plain language versus trying to describe something in the most charitable terms possible. When actions are deceptive, they should be described as such. Gil gosseyn (talk) 06:56, 9 October 2015 (UTC)

You haven't explained how "publicized" is deceptive, just how it's banal. You need to explain how the term doesn't accurately describe what liberal groups did in 2011 or how someone would be misled by it. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 07:42, 9 October 2015 (UTC)

I would weigh in here that "publicized" is, logically, semantically, connoting the act of publishing by the owner of the content - it implies something promoted willfully. "Publishing" is a legal term in intellectual property (and generally) implying ownership of the content published ("moral rights"). While the investigative newspapers certainly publish (and publicize) their product, people generally don't say that the reporters "publicize" their actual evidence simply by reporting it -- we say that they "report" it. So I would disagree that this is a neutral term. Wikibearwithme (talk) 06:11, 12 October 2015 (UTC)

This is incorrect on two fronts. First, there's nothing about "publicized" that implies ownership or intellectual property. To "publicize" is merely to "make widely known." I can publicize something that has nothing to do with me. Al Gore "publicized" the threat of global warming, but that didn't imply he had any property right to anything associated with global warming. Second, "reported" is the wrong word here, as much of the publicizing was done behind closed doors by organizations other than "investigative newspapers." CMD, an advocacy group, published the ALEC Exposed website. Color of Change sent mass e-mails to its membership and publicly pressured ALEC's corporate members. Trayvon Martin's attorneys and Change.org launched a related online campaign. The Sunlight Foundation rolled out Superfastmatch. All of these are detailed in this Atlantic piece, and none of them are investigative reporting. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 20:34, 12 October 2015 (UTC)