For most Utahns, and Americans in general, the name “Alec” brings a Baldwin to mind, but for a growing number of activists, the name is a reference to a shadow government, one that hooks politicians up with deep-pocketed corporate interests. A new billboard campaign is looking to encourage Utahns to find out more about the group and its pull on state legislators.
Nonprofit advocacy group Alliance for a Better Utah launched a statewide billboard campaign Wednesday with two fixed billboards featuring their message, as well as a number of advertisements on electronic billboards from St. George to Ogden warning that “ALEC is coming”
The billboards are meant to intrigue Utahns into learning more about the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonprofit association that for decades has used secret meeting to pair state legislators with large corporate interests. In the past, ALEC legislation has been responsible for expanding the for-profit prison industry to advancing controversial Stand Your Ground Laws like the one in Florida that has been called into question since the killing of the unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in February 2012.
The billboard campaign comes as ALEC prepares to hold an annual meeting in Salt Lake City in July. “From a good-government perspective, the citizens of Utah need to understand what ALEC is,” says Maryann Martindale, executive director of Alliance for a Better Utah. “Ultimately, [citizens] can make their own decisions about whether that is something their legislators should be participating in -- but they need to understand it.” Utahns who see the billboard will be directed to the nonprofit’s site, where they can read up on ALEC’s reach into state-level laws affecting everything from immigration policy to health-care decisions.
The site also has a list of all of Utah’s legislators who are members of ALEC.