A lobbyist for Koch Industries and energy interests serves with a lobbyist for Pfizer pharmaceuticals as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) corporate co-chairs in Wisconsin, according to documents obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy at this year's ALEC Annual Meeting. For some, their fundraising for "scholarships" to benefit ALEC legislative members raises issues of legislative ethics.
-- by Billy Manes
The Center for Media and Democracy is re-posting this article from Billy Manes at the Orlando Weekly as part of our efforts to expose the American Legislative Exchange Council. The original can be found here.
When Jeff Wright walked into the lobby of the New Orleans Marriott on Aug. 3, he wasn't sure what to expect. As the director of public policy advocacy for the Florida Education Association -- a prominent teachers' union that had been bearing the brunt of legislative attacks from Florida Republicans throughout the 2011 legislative session -- he wasn't there for your standard Mardi Gras-themed party. The American Legislative Exchange Council, a national nonprofit organization made up of elected officials and private interests who gather regularly to try to directly influence the substance of public policy, was holding its annual four-day meeting there, so any "partying" would probably be a little more conservative, and -- going by a recent glut of press coverage pointing out ALEC's clearinghouse mentality of privately linking big corporations with the state legislators willing to pursue their bottom-line agendas in the form of "model legislation" -- slightly more nefarious. Nevertheless, he wanted to see it for himself.
Wisconsin Republicans, without going on-the-record with a vote, have used a legislative trick to block an election board rule that would have shed light on the corporate interests laundering election spending through front groups. The move echoes the American Legislative Exchange Council agenda and will likely ensure a flood of secret ads and robo-calls for Wisconsin's 2012 elections.
The Sidney Hillman Foundation selected the Center for Media and Democracy and The Nation magazine for its prestigious "Sidney Award" this month. The award recognizes our investigative journalism exposing the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which the Foundation called "an obscure but powerful conservative group that brings state legislators and corporations together to write laws."
On Monday, September 12, Brad Hooker of the Center for Responsive Politics' Open Secrets blog posted an exposé of the money that the corporate members of ALEC's "Private Enterprise" Board (including AT&T, Exxon Mobil, Kraft, Coca-Cola and Koch Industries) spent to lobby Washington and fill the campaign chests of ALEC alumni in Congress (as well as other Congressmembers). ALEC alumnus John Boehner received the most from ALEC Board corporations, a total of "$368,200 from the people and political action committees associated with the companies on ALEC's private enterprise board during the 2010 election cycle." Second place goes to another ALEC alumnus, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who has been introducing ALEC's agenda to the House. He collected "$328,100 from people and PACs associated with 17 companies on the ALEC private enterprise board."
A Wisconsin worker was fired Thursday for reminding fellow workers that photo IDs required for voting are free under Wisconsin law.
A man identifying himself as Chris Larson called into "Sly in the Morning," a popular Madison radio program on WTDY-AM, and said he had been fired and escorted out of his workplace earlier in the day for sending out an email to remind employees to tell the public that they can obtain a state license for free. Larson said he worked for the Department of Safety and Professional Services, which is under Secretary Dave Ross.
The man was reacting to recent news stories that the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles may be hiding the fact that the IDs, which are newly required for voting in Wisconsin, are free. Hours after his dismissal, a small crowd gathered in front of his place of employment to protest his firing.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), an alumnus of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which the Center for Media and Democracy has been investigating through ALECexposed.org, recently highlighted a memo on his "Upcoming Jobs Agenda." He described his agenda as "pursuing a steady repeal of job-destroying regulations ... that have tied the hands of small business people and prevented job growth."
His wish list was sent to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which announced on September 6th that Obama's forthcoming jobs plan should scrap its "aggressive and voluntary regulatory agenda and adopt an immediate moratorium on any regulation that will harm job growth." The committee has already approved the "Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation" (TRAIN) Act.
Leaked audio from the Koch brothers' June donor meeting in Vail, Colorado reveals connections between the Kochs and a wealthy Wisconsin funder whose hundreds of thousands helped elect Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson and Governor Scott Walker.
July 29 marked the one-year anniversary of Arizona's controversial immigration law, a year that has seen similar anti-immigrant bills emerge across the country. Thanks to the release of over 800 pieces of "model legislation" by the Center for Media and Democracy, we can now pinpoint the source of the outbreak to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a bill factory for legislation that benefits the bottom line of its corporate members. While it has been reported that more immigrants behind bars means more income for ALEC member Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), less discussed has been how immigrant detention benefits commercial bail-bond agencies, an industry represented in ALEC through the American Bail Coalition.
The Center for Media and Democracy is reposting Beau Hodai's examination of the privatization schemes advanced by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), as part of CMD's effort to report on, and gather reporting about this organization through our ALECexposed.org work. This story was originally published by DBA Press (pdf) and is also available for download through this link. (pdf) You can also jump to the article's source materials directory here.