Though the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) may be backing slightly off their Voter Suppression crusade due to corporate members jumping ship, states under Tea Party influence are continuing the effort with funding from unexpected sources. In Maine, a legislation was signed into law last year disallowing same-day voter registration. When Maine voters put the issue to public referendum it was upheld, partly due to a mysterious out-of-state donation of $250,000, over three quarters of the entire budget for the voter suppression campaign. The donor was revealed in post-campaign disclosure as the American Justice Partnership (AJP):
The AJP is a conservative legal organization based not in Maine, but in Michigan. On their website, the group states they are fighting against “the scheming George Soros money machine” which is “trying to sabotage your right to vote,” a claim apparently made without a hint of irony. Though the AJP doesn’t disclose where its funding comes from, the Bangor Daily News notes that it has partnered with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in the past, a group that has been instrumental in the proliferation of voter ID laws across the country.
The AJP’s secret $250,000 contribution ultimately accounted for over 78 percent of all the money raised by the No On 1 campaign. In other words, over three-quarters of the funding for opponents of election day registration in Maine came from Michigan. (This money was then used to run ads decrying “outsiders from other states” who were influencing the Maine election.)
AJP refuses to reveal the identity of its donors, but the Republic Report has found evidence linking not only ALEC to AJP, but the Koch Brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and Wisconsin business owners as well.
Republic Report has found some of the money going into AFP, the group that tried to prevent same-day voter registration in Maine. And it’s a surprising source: Wisconsin.
Tax forms from the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Issues Mobilization Council Inc. show that the group, which is run by corporations like the Boldt Company and Wausau Paper, provided at least $865,000 to the group:
The disclosure shows that the Wisconsin business group gave American Justice Partnership the money to support “shared mission of educating the public about business issues.” But this vague description is applied to every grant. For more clarity, we asked Jim Pugh, a communications executive with the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce group. “Our 990 form speaks for itself,” he wrote back. “Thanks for your interest.”
It was recently revealed that ALEC was behind a ham-handed voter purge in Florida that has been characterized as both prejudiced and unnecessary. Though ALEC has abandoned their Public Safety and Elections Task Force that was the spearhead of their voter suppression agenda, many of their proposed laws, and their mysterious donors, are too deeply ingrained in the legislative process to be stopped.