Two reporters for ThinkProgress allege that they were “attacked by security guards for no apparent reason” on Thursday at a conference of the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
The guards told Scott Keyes and Lee Fang that they had to stop filming and leave the lobby area, but when they attempted to comply, “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.”
The guards claimed “they were acting on instructions from ALEC.” The two reporters were able to continue filming part of the incident, and the video does appear to confirm extreme belligerence on the part of the guards.
ThinkProgress had been denied credentials to cover the New Orleans conference, even though they had attended previous events. This may be because ALEC has come under increasing scrutiny recently as the organization which supplies much of the anti-labor and pro-corporate legislation that conservative Republican governors, such as Scott Walker of Wisconsin, have been attempting to enact.
“The incident today underscores the suspicion that the organization is a secret conduit for corporate lobbyists to literally write legislation for state lawmakers without having their fingerprints on the bill,” the reporters suggest. “To maintain this secrecy, ALEC appears more than willing to kick out media and close their doors to the public.”
ThinkProgress also published on Friday a list of the conference’s corporate sponsors which they had received from an anonymous source. BP Oil leads the list, and many other energy companies, pharmaceutical firms, and groups with an interest in privatization are also represented.