Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti has left an organization of state attorneys general that has accepted sponsorships from left-leaning companies and nonprofits, The Daily Signal has learned.
The organization, called the Attorneys General Alliance, is holding its annual conference this week in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. The annual conference, running Monday through Thursday, was expected to attract 850 attendees from the offices of 30 state attorneys general.
The AG Alliance does not appear to be listing sponsors for this year’s conference, but sponsors for last year’s gathering included Meta (the parent company of Facebook), Amazon, TikTok, and Target.
Also a sponsor was the Center for Secure and Modern Elections, one of the left-wing nonprofits started through the Arabella Advisors network. The center is aligned with the Center for Tech and Civic Life, which in 2020 took $350 million from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to fund administration of elections in targeted states. (CSME is also a partner in the CTCL-founded U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence.)
The AGA announced a list of attendees and participants would not be public during the 2023 annual meeting.
The Attorneys General Alliance, officially bipartisan, began in 1982 as the Conference of Western Attorneys General, or CWAG, with 15 states represented. By 2019, the group had grown to include attorneys general from 46 states.
So far, he is the only state attorney general to leave the organization. However, five Republican attorneys general have left a similar group, the National Association of Attorneys General, alleging that the organization tilts left. Numerous Republican attorneys general remain in the association, however.
Skrmetti’s press secretary, Elizabeth Lane Johnson, responded to The Daily Signal’s inquiry by declining to comment.
However, emails obtained by The Daily Signal show that staff from Skrmetti’s office informed the AG Alliance that his office would not renew memberships in response to a bill for dues.
Joy Orr, representing the Attorneys General Alliance, sent an invoice May 10 to Tammy Fulwider in the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office.
“For your convenience, a 2023-24 CWAG/AGA membership dues invoice is attached,” Orr wrote. “If your state is interested in paying this invoice prior to the close of fiscal year 2023, please do so. States preferring to pay after July 1, 2023, should do so at their earliest convenience after that date.”
Brandon J. Smith, Skrmetti’s chief of staff, responded May 17 to Jason Isaak of the Attorney General Alliance.
“We received the below invoice for continued membership,” Smith wrote. “After consideration, Tennessee has decided not to renew our CWAG/AGA membership.”
Tanie Maestas, deputy executive director of the AG Alliance, defended the nonpartisan standing of the organization.
“We have 27 active Republican members of the AG Alliance and have no record of any AG raising the concern [about sponsorships] you allude to with us,” Maestas told The Daily Signal in an email Wednesday.
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