Democracy

Posted by Lisa Graves on May 21, 2013

Cover of "Dissent or Terror"Originally published by In These Times.

Freedom of conscience is one of the most fundamental human freedoms. This freedom is not merely about one's ability to choose to believe or not believe in religion or a particular philosophy. In a democracy, freedom of conscience is about the ability to be critical of government and corporations, and to be free from the chilling fear that being critical will subject you to government surveillance.

Posted by Brendan Fischer on May 21, 2013

The Texas-based Tea Party group True the Vote is claiming they were one of the groups inappropriately "targeted" by the IRS since their application for charitable status has been delayed for years. Although many Tea Party groups were singled-out by the IRS for improper reasons, there may be good reasons for the agency to take a close look at True the Vote's application for charitable status, particularly given the group's involvement with the Wisconsin "Verify the Recall" effort.

Posted by Brendan Fischer on May 16, 2013

Florida Governor Rick Scott is under pressure from Florida moms to veto a bill that would deliver a "kill-shot" to local efforts to guarantee paid sick days for workers. The legislation, which can be traced back the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is backed by major corporate players with questionable labor records, including Disney.

Posted by Brendan Fischer on May 15, 2013

The controversy surrounding the IRS singling-out Tea Party-inspired groups seeking tax exempt status -- while inexcusable -- might be attributable, in part, to the agency's failure to create clearer rules for political activity in the post-Citizens United electoral landscape, and it being inappropriately tasked with enforcing campaign finance law, tax law experts say.

Posted by Brendan Fischer on May 14, 2013

Mark Pocan and Keith Ellison"The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected," wrote Thomas Paine in 1795.

Yet contrary to popular belief, there is no affirmative right to vote in the U.S. Constitution. This gap in our founding document has provided an opening for the wave of voter suppression measures that swept the country in recent years, and before that, the poll taxes and Jim Crow restrictions that disenfranchised millions. This week, two Congressmen -- both from states at the epicenter of today's voting rights struggles -- are seeking to fix that.

Posted by The PRW Staff on May 10, 2013

In an era when traditional journalism is collapsing and all limits on campaign spending have been removed by the courts, spin is becoming more powerful and permanent than ever before.

Posted by Brendan Fischer on May 08, 2013

Dark money nonprofits spent hundreds of millions in the 2012 elections, but reported only a fraction of that thanks to an "issue advocacy" loophole that requires only limited disclosure for ads that don't explicitly urge viewers to vote for or against a candidate. Federal and state elections officials have rarely probed whether a group's so-called "issue ads" are really intended to influence elections -- but in Wisconsin, a politically-active nonprofit exposed its issue ad charade on its own.

Posted by Brendan Fischer on May 07, 2013

Shortly after the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) told the press "we really believe in transparency," new documents show the organization directing legislators to hide ALEC meeting agendas and model legislation from the public. This effort to circumvent state freedom of information laws is being called "shocking" and "disturbing" by transparency advocates.

Posted by Brendan Fischer on May 06, 2013

-- by Brendan Fischer and Nick Surgey --

In anticipation of protests at ALEC's recent meeting in Oklahoma City, state legislators were handed a set of talking points that read "The American Legislative Exchange Council recognizes the first amendment rights of free speech and assembly, and asks that _____ do the same," apparently to prepare legislators for press questions about citizen activism. But ALEC didn't live up to those spoon-fed talking points: ALEC assembled a dossier of disfavored reporters and activists, kicked reporters out of its conference who might write unfavorable stories, and managed to boot a community forum critical of ALEC from its reserved room.

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Bill Moyers presents "United States of ALEC," a report on the most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has never heard of -- ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.