Something bizarre is happening here in Charlotte, N.C.
On Thursday, Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers will take the stage at the DNC before President Obama's speech, despite being a prominent supporter of ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), the far right network coordinating anti-democratic legislation across the country.
Infuriated by the Stand Your Ground laws? Or the onslaught of anti-choice laws? Or the legislation designed to keep voter turnout low this year? Well, that's all ALEC. They are anti-women, anti-union, anti-environment, and perhaps most egregiously, they are anti-democracy, passing voter suppression laws to try to steal elections.
It's outrageous that Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers who is actively engaged in ALEC and suppressing the vote is allowed anywhere near the convention stage, but that's what money can buy these days.
Throughout the planning of the convention, Jim Rogers has been a major player. He chaired the host committee and provided the DNC with a ten-million dollar line of credit. On top of that, he was a centerpiece in the DNC's donor strategy, corralling donors and support for the convention.
Duke Energy's membership in ALEC means they are supporting voter suppression efforts that could disenfranchise upwards of five million people. That's 5,000,000 people! That's the equivalent of taking the entire populations of Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana and Rhode Island out of the electorate.
And ALEC and their corporate sponsors like Duke aren't trying to keep just any people from the polls; their voter suppression laws will impact people and color and young people more than other parts of the population. Since these two cohorts of voters are overwhelmingly progressive, it makes perfect sense that the CEOs of the 1% would want to silence their voices at the polls.
For thousands of young people across the country, this election is about standing up to dirty politics and dirty money, and using people power to put our generation's demands for a more just society back on the map. We want a society that invests in education, and good jobs in a clean energy economy, not more bonuses for Big Oil CEOs. A society that addresses the climate crisis, one of the greatest challenges of our generation. We're tired of corporations like Duke, and dirty front groups like ALEC, corrupting our democracy. So we're fighting back.
This week at the DNC, Duke Energy is feeling the impact of people power: more than 150,000 people have signed a petition to Duke; yesterday thousands stormed Duke Energy's Facebook Page with comments; and activists rallied at Duke Energy HQ, and at their offices in Cincinnati, Ohio, all to expose Duke's dirty ties to ALEC and demand it to end. A coalition of environmental, civil rights and democracy reform groups, including Energy Action Coalition, Greenpeace and CREDO Action, have come together to demand that Duke dump ALEC.
On Tuesday, I tracked down Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers at the DNC to demand he directly respond to the 150,000 people demanding Duke dump ALEC:
Jim Rogers confirmed that he's hearing the demands for Duke to dump ALEC, but he failed to commit to making it happen, and only promised to get back to us "in due time."
But we want urgent action from Duke Energy and we're not alone.
On Tuesday, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York told us that "I'd urge [Duke] to leave ALEC ASAP... if not sooner!" And Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin gave us his opinion too: "
It's time for Jim Rogers and Duke Energy to dump ALEC. Thirty-eight major corporations have already left ALEC, so what is Duke waiting for? Mr. Rogers tells us that we'll know in "due time." That time is now.