ALEC roughs up, throws out journalists trying to cover their “conference” (2 items)

VIDEO: Security Guards At American Legislative Exchange Council Conference Physically Attack ThinkProgress Reporters
By Lee Fang and Scott Keyes on Aug 5, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Scott Keyes’ thumb after being attacked by security guards at the American Legislative Exchange Council conference
Yesterday, at a conference in New Orleans, two ThinkProgress reporters were attacked by security guards for no apparent reason. Reporters Scott Keyes and Lee Fang were at the Marriott Hotel for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) annual meeting, an event that brings together state lawmakers with corporate lobbyists to draft “model” legislation.

While we stood by the second floor lobby of the conference hotel, security guards surrounded us, demanding that we leave. As we were leaving, they approached us, violently pushed us and twisted our arms. A guard approached Fang from behind, tackling him and later bending his arm to take his camera. Keyes, faced similar treatment: two security guards roughed him up on the escalator, taking his video camera, and cutting Keyes’ hand as he attempted to leave the premises. As Keyes asked why he was being forced to leave, he was shoved from the back.

Asked why they were being so belligerent, the security guards said they were acting on instructions from ALEC. At certain points during the incident, they were able to turn on their video cameras and record it:

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Journalist Kicked out of ALEC Conference, Threatened With Arrest
Submitted by Eric Carlson on August 5, 2011 – 7:32am

In late July, shortly after the launch of ALECexposed.org, Lousiana State Rep.Noble Ellington, a Republican from the state’s 20th district and the national chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council, spoke to NPR about the recent spate of criticism leveled at his organization. When discussing the behind-closed-doors process used to craft ALEC model legislation, Ellington dismissed concerns raised by NPR, assuring interviewer Terry Gross that the public “have an opportunity to talk to their legislators about the legislation — so I don’t see how you can get more transparent than that.”

Similarly, Ohio State Senator Bill Seitz, a former “ALEC Legislator of the Year,” laughed off the notion of ALEC’s secrecy, telling a Cincinnati newspaper that the organization is just like any other professional association.

So it was with these assurances that I headed to New Orleans for ALEC’s 38th Annual Conference. Surely as a member of the fourth estate, the good folks at ALEC would value my investigative efforts and grant me access to their back room dealings.

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