Lobbying

Quid pro Status Quo: ALEC & State-Sanctioned Corruption in Ohio

Part 1: Legislative Service with a Smile

"Quid pro quo: something given or received for something else"

-- Merriam-Webster Dictionary

ALEC Exposed - A project of CMDAt about ten o'clock on the morning of March 23, 2011, Faith Williams walked into the office of Ohio House Majority Whip John Adams (R-District 78). Williams, a lobbyist with firm, Bricker & Eckler, LLP, (Bricker) had an appointment to speak with Adams about an "economic development study" created by some of her clients in the life insurance industry.

Wisconsin GOP Attempts to Ram Through Special Interest Mining Bill

Protestor holding up jar of water in hearing on mining bill.Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald are pushing for radical changes in Wisconsin's current mining law to benefit a single out-of-state company.

Gogebic Taconite, based out of Florida, has proposed a massive twenty-one mile long iron-ore strip mine in some of the most beautiful and pristine land in the northern part of the state. Walker and the GOP are promoting the mining bill as the most important "jobs bill" of the session. Since Governor Walker's austerity budget kicked in on July 1, Wisconsin has lost jobs for six straight months, the worst record in the country.

The Assembly proposal (PDF) would make numerous changes to current law, including regarding how mines can affect waterways, wetlands and groundwater. The new bill drastically limits the time available to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for processing permit requests to 360 days. Similar permit requests in Minnesota took between two and four years. The new bill also places a two million dollar cap on the amount a company must reimburse the DNR for costs associated with processing a request. Any expense beyond the two million dollar cap would come from the DNR's budget. Similar mining permits elsewhere have cost between three and four million dollars, and the DNR already faces severe cuts.

"ALEC Accountability Act" Introduced in Wisconsin

A Wisconsin state legislator is filing a bill that would require greater transparency regarding the activities of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in the state.

PocanRep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) has been circulating the "ALEC Accountability Act," a bill that would require ALEC to register with the state as a lobbyist and report the funding sources for the "scholarships" funding legislators' travel. Pocan refers to ALEC as a "dating service" for right-wing politicians and corporations who exercise undue influence over state law by crafting "model" legislation behind closed doors.

New Definition for Lobbying

Pocan believes that while ALEC is doing the work of a lobbyist, it is not complying with the reporting and registration requirements asked of all lobbyists. The bill would redefine "lobbying" to include contact with any member, employee, or agent of a body that "proposes uniform, model, suggested, or recommended legislation."

Newt Gingrich Says Freddie Mac is Just Like a Credit Union

Newt GingrichPresidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have been publicly going at it, trying to discredit one another in order to gain the frontrunner status in the GOP primary race. At the GOP debate in Florida, Romney accused Gingrich of being an "influence peddler" for his lucrative role consulting for the Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE) Freddie Mac, which many right-wingers blame for the subprime mortgage mess. In his response, Gingrich said "there are many different kinds of government-sponsored enterprises and many of them have done very good things" and likened Freddie Mac to electric cooperatives and federal credit unions.

But neither electric cooperatives nor credit unions are GSE's and this is the second time in recent presidential debates that Gingrich has used this line. Freddie Mac -- from which Gingrich has reportedly received $1.6 million in contracts -- is a quasi-governmental entity which the U.S. government backstops with loans and guarantees.
Very few institutions fit this description. On the other hand, credit unions are private nonprofit cooperatives, which are organized under charters authorized by either federal or state agencies. They do not receive funding from the U.S. government. In the case of Freddie Mac, the institution had to be bailed out by the Federal Reserve after its role in the subprime mortgage crisis, so now it is partially owned by the U.S. government.

While Gingrich has stated that he was not a lobbyist for the Freddie Mac, a recently released contract shows that Gingrich reported to Freddie Mac's director of public policy, essentially the group's top lobbyist.

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