The Hill –
Earlier this month, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) sent letters to hundreds of groups–charities, think tanks, trade associations, restaurants, car dealerships, and many more–requesting that they disclose their ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and their position on “stand your ground” laws for a Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee hearing on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights. After similar abuses of power at the Internal Revenue Service were met with broad public condemnation earlier this year, it’s baffling that Durbin would choose to take this course of action. These strongly-worded requests, on official Senate letterhead, were a step beyond any of the IRS’s inappropriate actions, and miles outside Durbin’s responsibilities as a senator.
But Durbin doesn’t hope to achieve any legislative goal with these letters. The senator would rather abuse his bully pulpit and advance the causes of fringe progressive groups who have made ALEC their bogeyman du jour–the same groups that shamelessly exploited the untimely death of Trayvon Martin and ALEC’s ties to laws tangential to the case, trying to link ALEC to the tragedy.
It’s illegal for elected officials to use their taxpayer-funded offices for political activity, and if Durbin shilling for liberal groups in his official capacity as a senator doesn’t cross that line, it’s disturbingly close. Furthermore, whether these groups have supported ALEC or “stand your ground” laws is no one’s business but their own, and the states that have duly passed these laws don’t need an Illinois senator meddling in their affairs.