The Cato Institute, a prominent conservative think tank with ties to the Koch brothers, released the letter its president, John Allison, sent in response to what he calls the "blatant violation of our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and to petition the government for a redress of grievances" by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). The "violation" takes the form of a letter sent by Durbin to individuals and organizations believed to have contributed to the American Legislative Exchange Council since 2005, the year in which ALEC developed model legislation based on Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law.

In the letter, Durbin inquires whether the Cato Institute "supports the 'stand your ground' legislation that was adopted as a national model and promoted by ALEC" and indicates that the response will be read into the record of a Senate subcommittee on "Stand Your Ground" laws in September. The Wall Street Journal and Chicago Tribune believe the letter is an attempt to shame anyone affiliated with ALEC by exposing them to the public outrage over the death of Trayvon Martin.

Allison, however, suggests that Durbin may something more substantial than shaming ALEC's supporters in mind, calling the letter "a continuation of the trend of the current administration and congressional menace those who do not share [Durbin's] political beliefs—as evidenced by the multiple IRS abuses that have recently been exposed."

Though conservatives still insist that the IRS targeted conservative groups', and only conservative groups', applications for non-profit status for scrutiny, that narrative has been thoroughly cast into doubt as additional details emerged.

Raw Story contacted the Senator's office about Allison's allegations but has yet to hear back.

[Image via Flickr.]