Some of the biggest losers in US history are in control of our government, that’s where much of the chaos and destruction has come from. Our country and our way of life is under attack by a secret organization called the American Legislative Council, ALEC’s whose plans to privatize America are unfolding, along with a war against our civil rights. Here’s basic information and the FAQ’s on this sinister, shadowy organization where the nasty, vile cancer in our democracy resides.
PLEASE spend time learning the details and help get the word out so we can remove this cancer from our midst and get America going in the right direction again, fascist free! We must turn off the TV and do the mental gymnastics needed to have a real understanding of what’s going on, they control the news media so you won’t get the information there.
Through ALEC, Global Corporations Are Scheming to Rewrite YOUR Rights and Boost THEIR Revenue
Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights. These so-called “model bills” reach into almost every area of American life and often directly benefit huge corporations. Through ALEC, corporations have “a VOICE and a VOTE” on specific changes to the law that are then proposed in your state. DO YOU?
What is ALEC?
ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not vote on the board.) Corporations fund almost all of ALEC’s operations. Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization. We agree. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door.
Who funds ALEC?
More than 98% of ALEC’s revenues come from sources other than legislative dues, such as corporations, corporate trade groups, and corporate foundations. Each corporate member pays an annual fee of between $7,000 and $25,000 a year, and if a corporation participates in any of the nine task forces, additional fees apply, from $2,500 to $10,000 each year. ALEC also receives direct grants from corporations, such as $1.4 million from ExxonMobil from 1998-2009. It has also received grants from some of the biggest foundations funded by corporate CEOs in the country, such as: the Koch family Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Koch-managed Claude R. Lambe Foundation, the Scaife family Allegheny Foundation, the Coors family Castle Rock Foundation, to name a few. Less than 2% of ALEC’s funding comes from “Membership Dues” of $50 per year paid by state legislators, a steeply discounted price that may run afoul of state gift bans.
Is it nonpartisan as claimed?
ALEC describes itself as a non-partisan, non-profit organization. The facts show that it currently has one Democrat out of 104 legislators in leadership positions. ALEC members, speakers, alumni, and award winners are a “who’s who” of the extreme right. ALEC has given awards to: Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, George H.W. Bush, Charles and David Koch, Richard de Vos, Tommy Thompson, Gov. John Kasich, Gov. Rick Perry, Congressman Mark Foley (intern sex scandal), and Congressman Billy Tauzin. ALEC alumni include: Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Congresswoman Michelle Bachman, Congressman Joe Wilson, (who called President Obama a “liar” during the State of the Union address), former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, former House Speaker Tom DeLay, Andrew Card, Donald Rumsfeld (1985 Chair of ALEC’s Business Policy Board), Governor Scott Walker, Governor Jan Brewer, and more. Featured speakers have included: Milton Friedman, Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney, Dan Quayle, George Allen, Jessie Helms, Pete Coors, Governor Mitch Daniels and more.
Is it lobbying?
In most ordinary people’s view, handing bills to legislators so they can introduce them is the very definition of lobbying. ALEC says “no lobbying takes place.” The current chairman of ALEC’s corporate board is W. Preston Baldwin III, until recently a lobbyist and the Vice President of State Government Affairs at UST Inc., a tobacco firm now owned by Altria/Phillip Morris USA. Altria is advancing a very short, specific bill to change the way moist tobacco products (such as fruit flavored “snus”) are taxed– to make it cheaper and more attractive to young tobacco users according to health experts. In fact, 20 of the 24 corporate representatives on ALEC’s “Private Enterprise Board” are lobbyists representing major firms such as Koch Industries, Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, Wal-Mart and Johnson and Johnson.
ALEC makes old-fashioned lobbying obsolete. Once legislators return to their state with corporate-sponsored ALEC legislation in hand, the legislators themselves become “super-lobbyists” for ALEC’s corporate agenda, cutting out the middleman. Yet ALEC enjoys a 501(c)(3) classification, which allows it to keep its tax-exempt status while accepting grants from foundations, corporations, and other donors. In our view, the activities that corporate members engage in should be considered lobbying by the IRS, and the entity that facilitates that effort to influence state law, ALEC, should also be considered to be engaged predominantly in lobby-related activities, not simply “educational” activities. Re-classifying ALEC as primarily engaged in lobbying facilitation would mean that donations to it would not count as tax-deductible for businesses and foundations. Common Cause filed a complaint with the IRS on July 14, 2011, setting forth evidence supporting its complaint that ALEC is engaged in lobbying despite its claims to do no lobbying.
Is it legal?
ALEC’s operating model raises many ethical and legal concerns. Each state has a different set of ethics laws or rules. The presence of lobbyists alone may cause ethics problems for some state legislators. Wisconsin, for instance, generally requires legislators who go to events with registered lobbyists to pay on their own dime, yet in many states, legislators use public funds to attend ALEC meetings. According to one study, $3 million in public funds was spent to attend ALEC meetings in one year. Some legislators use their personal funds and are reimbursed by ALEC. Such “scholarships” may be disclosed if gifts are required to be reported. But should the legislators be allowed to accept this money when lobbyists are present at the meeting? Still other legislators use their campaign funds to go and are again reimbursed by ALEC; in some states, campaign funds are only allowed to be used to attend campaign events.
In short, many state ethics codes might consider the free vacation, steeply discounted membership fees, free day care or travel scholarships to be “gifts” that should be disallowed or disclosed.
John Nichols simplifies the situation by explaining the history and corrupt influence of ALEC superbly! How beginning in 1973 the biggest losers in politics began taking over government from behind the scenes, these people couldn’t win elections so they took over the legislative process instead!
Here he is on Keith Olberman who also covers ALEC’s sinister, shadowy history and characters with eloquence and passion. John talks about the corporate agenda behind ALEC and how it’s systematically taking down America, dismantling everything that’s made America a great place to live and work.
Lisa Graves- Lisa Graves is the Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy, the publisher of PR Watch, SourceWatch, and BanksterUSA. She previously served as a senior advisor in all three branches of the federal government, as a leading strategist on civil liberties advocacy, and as an adjunct law professor at one of the top law schools in the country. Her former leadership posts include:
- Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Policy/Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Justice (serving under both Attorneys General Janet Reno and John Ashcroft)
- Chief Counsel for Nominations for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee
- Senior Legislative Strategist for the American Civil Liberties Union (on national security and surveillance policies)
- Deputy Director of the Center for National Security Studies
- Deputy Chief of the Article III Judges Division of the U.S. Courts(including oversight of the Financial Disclosure Office for judicial ethics) http://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/Lisa_Graves_Discusses_ALEC
Wendell Potter has served since May 2009 as the Center For Media and Democracy’s Senior Fellow on Health Care. After a 20-year career as a corporate public relations executive, last year he left his job as head of communications for one of the nation’s largest health insurers to try his hand at helping socially responsible organizations — including those advocating for meaningful health care reform — achieve their goals.
For an extended audio interview of Wendell discussing ALEC, see below.
To read Wendell’s ALEC article in The Nation, see below.
To see a full listing of ALEC Exposed Audio & Video, click here.
Mary Bottari Discusses ALEC’s Influence in Wisconsin on WTDY’s “Sly in the Morning”
Click here to listen to Mary Bottari discuss ALEC on “Counter Spin”.
Click here to listen to Mary Bottari discuss ALEC on Uprising Radio.
Click here to listen to Mary Bottari discuss the extent of ALEC’s influence on WSJM.