Stand Your Ground: Dick Durbin Pressures Anheuser-Busch, Corporate Backers of ALEC

dick-durbin-fb.jpg
via Facebook
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin.
Does Anheuser-Busch support controversial "stand your ground" laws?

That's a question Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat, is asking this week in advance of planned Senate hearings on these gun laws recently thrust into the spotlight with the trial of George Zimmerman, the Florida man who shot and killed an unarmed teenager and was acquitted in June.

What does this intense political debate have to do with Budweiser beer? A-B, like many other corporations across the country, has ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative policy group that has pushed stand your ground laws. And a letter from Durbin this week to A-B demands the company publicly state its position.

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"I write to seek information regarding your company's position on "stand your ground" legislation that was adopted as a national model by an organization called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)," Durbin, who is the assistant majority leader, writes. "In 2005, ALEC approved the adoption of model 'stand your ground' legislation entitled the 'Castle Doctrine Act.' This model legislation was based on Florida's 'stand your ground' law, and it changes the criminal law regarding self-defense and provides immunity for certain uses of deadly force."

A-B was one of several hundred corporations that received the letter this week, full list and letter below. We're guessing it's unlikely the company will actually state its stance on this issue and a representative has not responded to requests for comment from Daily RFT. We'll update if we hear back.

Anheuser-Busch-Brewery.jpg
via Wikimedia Commons
Anheuser-Busch brewery.

This helpful map from Mother Jones shows how the "stand your ground" laws have spread, with the backing of ALEC and the National Rifle Association.

Some conservative Missouri lawmakers are in fact headed to Chicago this week for ALEC's annual retreat.

Missouri is one of around 30 states in the country that has a law like this on the books. Here, it's called the Castle Doctrine -- and Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, enacted legislation expanding the scope of this law back in 2010. These policies across the country permit -- to varying degrees -- the use of deadly force in self-defense scenarios.

budweiser-sign.JPG
via Wikimedia Commons

Critics like Durbin argue that in some cases, these laws have actually "encouraged unnecessary shooting confrontations," as his office notes in a press release. And there are "civil rights implications when racial profiling and 'stand your ground' laws mix," the statement adds.

Durbin's letter asks the companies to answer two questions:

1. Has [your company] served as a member of ALEC or provided any funding to ALEC in 2013?

2. Does [your company] support the 'stand your ground' legislation that was adopted as a national model and promoted by ALEC?"

As Durbin's office notes, ALEC does not maintain a public list of corporate members or donors. A-B has been connected to the group in the past.

Again, A-B is one of many companies called out in Durbin's letter, but it'll be interesting to see if the corporation does offer any response.

Durbin plans to convene a September hearing in the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights that will examine these laws and ALEC's influence on them.

Here's a copy of the letter and a list of the companies.

Letter From Senator Durbin to Companies About ALEC and Stand Your Ground Legislation

List - Companies, ALEC Stand Your Ground Letter

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.

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17 comments
Nofreezones
Nofreezones

Mr. Durbin when you convene your special committee to review the three topics mentions, I would like you to pay particular attention to the constitution and the bill of rights. The permission and powers granted to you and the government are very much limited, that is what you need to review, In particular the 9th and 10th amendment.

Which one of the seventeen clauses stating the powers granted to congress permits you to inquire as to the beliefs, ideologies or concerns of a private company?

The whole point to this issue is to again chip away at the rights of law abiding citizens. This article and the way in which it was written is to misrepresent the issue, the GZ TM case was not a SYG issue so why the commingling of that case an ABs affiliation to SYG through ALEC. Guilt by association. Illinois is the last state to come into compliance with the constitution of the United States of America, only after a SC ruling forced them to comply, to protect and defend that document. It has in no way upheld its obligation to the citizens of Il, to protect their rights under the constitution.

I particularly like the phrase Gun Laws recently thrust into the spotlight" what gun laws? Do you mean the only real, legal gun law on the books? " The R I G H T of the People to KEEP and BEAR ARMS Shall not be I N F R I N G E D"

Not to be confused with, Gun Safety, Gun Ban, Word Manipulation or Executive Order.

Restore to the people of Illinois the ability to protect and defend themselves and you Sir uphold your oath to protect and defend the constitution, and the balance will return.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

Senators cannot "demand" a thing. If a majority of them approve, they can try to pass laws, but one pissant senator demanding citizens running a corporation answer a stupid question? Forget it!


Any corporation has many voices. Even the Board of Directors can be divided. Does that mean they answer "yes" or "no"? Senator Durbin is an idiot. Be a jerk, Mr. Senator. Hold a committee meeting to ask your stupid questions. 


WHAT does it matter what the majority of the Board to a publicly traded corporation think? NOTHING. You are only trying to intimidate those that might disagree with you. Shame on you!

Clyde Rhoads
Clyde Rhoads

i watched the vast majority of the trial. it was not presented to the jury by Zimmermans defense.

JJ O'Brand
JJ O'Brand

Yea, no, even the jurors are quoted to have used that in deliberation, try again...

Christine Gonzalez
Christine Gonzalez

All the people who want to give their rights up, let's see how you feel when you are put in a situation where your life is in danger and you can't get away. How do people think guns are bad? The bad people will always get them illegally. You will just be an easier target.

Clyde Rhoads
Clyde Rhoads

The Zimmerman trial, as presented with all evidence, had nothing to do with stand your ground. When you are on the ground with another person on top of you, there is nowhere to retreat to, you are as far "back" as you can get. Stand your ground had nothing to do with the Zimmerman trial, and was not even brought up during any of the testimony. I'm pretty well versed in MO self defense laws, and as the case was presented, in MO, he would be legally justified in his actions of self defense as well.

JJ O'Brand
JJ O'Brand

Without reading the article, my educated assumption would be ALEC....

JJ O'Brand
JJ O'Brand

The Zimmerman trial would state, plain as day, differently there Clyde.

Clyde Rhoads
Clyde Rhoads

Please watch this video. Massad Ayoob is a long time LEO, as well as expert witness in dozens of self defense cases. He explains these laws clearly in this 14-minute video http://youtu.be/irnD34P2l1w

Clyde Rhoads
Clyde Rhoads

Tell me, if you have a duty to retreat from an attacker who is hell-bent on hurting you, how are you going to without turning your back on him or trying to walk/run backwards faster than he can advance forward? Stand your ground isn't a 'license to kill at will' as some like to try to mask it as. Read the laws, and know what you are talking about before you pass your opinion of something you know nothing, of at best, very little about.

Couch Pig
Couch Pig

Good too know the same companies that provide us with alcohol also provide us with our nations laws...How does A.B. stand on drunken domestic violence?

lastroth
lastroth

@JamesMadison I say shame on you JamesMadison. I do not want I Koch Brothers special interest group with a secret list of sponsors writing, not lobbying, legislation. Senator Durbin as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee member is concerned about the junction of the SYG laws and civil rights. As Mr. Romney stated corporations are people too. If that is so and they are supporting ALEC then I want to know.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

@lastroth, your wants to invade the privacy of others is not a just cause for a senator to demand a thing. ALEC does not write legislation. It offers their opinions to what a bill might read, and some Senator or representative decides whether to offer those words or amended words as a Bill before congress. ALEC cannot sponsor legislation in congress. Only a senator or congressman can do that.

It is at that point that the words in the Bill matter, not who wrote them. Read the Bill. You either agree or disagree with the Bill. To reject a great bill because you do not like the author is prejudicial. To accept a bill because you like the author is foolish. Read the Bill and decide if you agree or not.

As far as corporations supporting or not supporting ALEC, read their SEC filings. It is all public record.The shameful act of Mr. Durbin is to request whether the corporations support this one aspect of ALEC. Why does it matter? Either you agree with SYG or you do not. Some who support the majority of ALEC's efforts might agree, and some might disagree on this one point.

I doubt Mr. Durbin who supports various organizations can readily admit to agreeing to 100% of their decisions. If he does, Either the organization or Mr. Durbin is unnecessary in the world of ideas. Humans can find common ground, but will never be identical.

Mr. Durbin should care about STG and civil rights, and how best to support all the rights of all the people.  Had Mr. Durbin sent his letter to every constituent, no problem, even if that includes corporations within his State. But to single out those corporations supporting one organization? That smacks of harassment and abuse of power trying to intimidate citizens he swore to defend their rights.

Shame on Senator Durbin for using Chicago political tactics. Same on him.

Nofreezones
Nofreezones

You've made many Good points. If the content is favorable, just or for the betterment of the citizens or society then let the words speak for the author. A tree is known by the fruit it bears. If AB wants to offer and opinion or a stand, fine;however, I don't feel it's anyones business but theirs. Just like my vote or opinion I'm under no obligation to give you any information about where I stand on an issue or vote, my business! Chicago, that pretty much says it all, no protection on the street, no protection of your natural rights and no protection of the constitution or bill of rights! Do you people believe in the oaths that you take?

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

@lastroth, nope. Merely a suggestion. A congressman must take that draft and submit it. Perhaps some do blindly (in the words of Nancy Pelosi, "But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it."), but most of the time, it is not the final draft submitted for vote. Those bills go through many committees and rewrites. Mostly by unelected aides. But the people vote for a representative to pass the Bill into Law. It is up to you to vote for someone who will read the Bill and decide whether it is both constitutional and good for the Nation.

Your state and every state does not wait for the light bulbs to go off in the legislators' head to craft a bill. Citizens petition them to do something to fix the problem, and in many, if not most, some citizen has taken the time to draft the start of that Bill to outline what needs to be done. That is how it has worked for over two hundred years. We, the People, govern ourselves. We, the People, submit our ideas to Congress for them to decide which if any course of action to take.

You are upset that one group has done the very thing other groups have done for years. You are upset that you do not know the author of the bill when you cannot name the real author of any bill. You know the sponsors. You know who is taken credit for the bill, but you have not a clue who actually wrote any bill. Why? It does not matter. What matters are the words. What do those words mean? Debate the ideas, not the person.

Mr. Durbin wants none of that. He wants a distraction for you. He wants you to get mad at someone else for his own failures. You are believing him without knowing what is happening. Durbin is a playground bully, and you are cheering him.

lastroth
lastroth

@JamesMadison @lastroth So "model legislation" is not writing? This is from the Kansas City Star

http://www.kansascity.com/2013/08/09/4400236/alec-pipeline-of-bad-ideas-runs.html  and this is not the only place I've read of their efforts.

To my main point is that I do not want outsiders writing legislation for my state. If my state legislators see a problem I hope that they and their staff can craft appropriate legislation to fit the problem in the state. Otherwise why should we pay them for other people's work.

For the corporations that sponsor ALEC why keep it a secret?

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