With the 2012 legislative season and another episode of the Great American Campaign Circus dawning over the nation, Arizona may find itself the proving grounds for possible reform in the age of "pay-to-play" politics.
Confronted with a report by ProgressVA stating that through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) corporate lobbyists get access to legislators "behind closed doors," ALEC politician Bill Howell dismissed the claim and told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that all ALEC meetings were open to the public.
That would be breaking news to both traditional press and the online media that have been blocked from ALEC meetings and are increasingly being threatened with arrest.
"Mr. Hodai had a history at the conference--not a very pleasant history. He was considered to be a persona non grata..."
-- Westin Kierland General Manager Bruce Lange to Olivia Ward of the Toronto Star.
Evicting the Press, Part 1: Meet Mr. Black
Scottsdale, Arizona--A suburb awash in money and golf courses, set against the backdrop of the jagged mountains surrounding Phoenix.
I was sitting in a sports bar of the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa, swapping journalism stories with Olivia Ward of the Toronto Star on one of the bar's overstuffed leather couches. Over the course of an hour, the bar filled with conventioneers from the American Legislative Exchange Council's 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit (SNPS). (A new story on Westin's connections to other ALEC corporations is available here.)
My assignment was to cover the 2011 SNPS, taking place at the resort from November 29 through December 2. ALEC had refused to grant me media credentials. Nevertheless, I was a paid guest at the resort.
Tucson-based civil rights attorney Stacy Scheff believes that Westin Kierland may have violated federal constitutional law when they threw a journalist (and paid guest) out into the dead of night--due to the simple fact that the journalist evicted had written critically of (and was not liked by) the organization hosting a conference at the hotel. (A new story about these events is available here).
Governor Mitch Daniels (R-Indiana) and the state's Speaker of the House, Brian Bosma (R-88), are spearheading an effort to pass the controversial, corporate-backed "Right to Work" (RTW) bill, which has sparked huge protests by Hoosiers. The bill's opponents have called it the "Right to Work (for Peanuts)" bill, the "'Right to be Fired' Without Cause" bill, and other names.
Thousands of Indiana workers rallied outside, and inside, their state capitol on Wednesday to speak out against Governor Mitch Daniels' renewed effort to force through so-called "right to work" legislation designed to undermine labor unions and workers' rights protected by collective bargaining.
by Scott Keyes
This article was originally published by Think Progress. The Center for Media and Democracy is cross-posting it as part of our ongoing efforts to expose the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its attempts to disenfranchise voters across the country.
Last month, Maine voters delivered a major rebuke to Gov. Paul LePage (R) and the Republican-held legislature when they approved a referendum restoring election day voting registration rights in the state. Earlier this year, state legislators passed a bill repealing the state's 38 year-old law allowing citizens to register at the polls on election day.
The U.S. Department of Justice has rejected South Carolina's voter ID law, which was inspired by an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model, as discriminatory against people of color.
Color of Change has launched a campaign encouraging corporations that rely on business from African-Americans to stop funding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which promotes voter ID legislation that suppresses the black vote.
The NAACP is calling the wave of Voter ID laws passed in 2011 a "coordinated and comprehensive assault" on the right to vote for people of color and the poor, singling out the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as the source of the outbreak. The organization is taking its case to the United Nations this week.
Rev. William Barber, President of the NAACP North Carolina State Conference, says "Jim Crow used blunt tools. James Crow, Esquire uses surgical tools, high paid consultants and lawyers to cut out the heart of black political power."