By Jeff Simpson
Wait a minute, sorry for the misleading headline. It should read ALEC could care less about you!
For those people who have been living under a rock lately, or too busy working three jobs and trying to take care of your kids after the George Bush recession and the Scott Walker forced pay cuts, there is a group that has been around for a long time but only recently have people been paying attention.
They call themselves the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC: Our friends at the Center for Media and Democracy are the ones to thank for exposing this shado, clandestine, anti- American(more on this later) group to the public!
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.
ALEC realized LONG ago that there is no need to waste money lobbying the federal level when buying state politicians was so much more cost effective! While ALEC does buy bipartisan legislators, the vast vast vast majority of representatives they buy are republicans(I know surprise surprise). In Wisconsin, ALEC is almost the sole driving force behind the extreme right wing agenda that has been forced through our state legislature.
Just as Mark Pocan did last year, Future Governor Chris Taylor has done this year, attend the ALEC convention. I admire the courage of an out gay man and a strong woman heading to a conference full of rich white men with 1920's attitudes! Future Governor Taylor has chronicled her adventure here!
One special interest lobbyist I spoke with advocated a convoluted constitutional amendment strategy to require that all federal agency regulations receive Congressional approval. When I responded that voters might not be that excited about changing the constitution for regulatory “reform,” he responded that you didn’t really need the consent of the people if you had Republican control of enough states and the corporate money that would surely fund such an initiative. In the ALEC universe, policies no longer have to be by the people or for the people.More on ALEC here and here and if you have an hour watch this GREAT Bill Moyers show on the United States of ALEC (Special guest star - Wisconsin).
Finally back to the Anti-American comment from above. At their recent convention in Chicago, ALEC let Leah Vukmir present the (I sh*t you not) Thomas Jefferson award to OK Governor Fallin(aptly named).
Thomas Jefferson is rolling over in his grave after seeing this, I can not think of a worse way to honor his legacy!!
OK Gov. Fallin receiving the Thomas Jefferson Award @ the American Legislative Exchange Council - so honored to present this award to a great leader and supporter of Jeffersonian principles!
Speaking of "Jefferson principles" Leah:
--Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Logan, November 12, 1816“I hope we shall...crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and to bid defiance to the laws of our country.”