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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

ALEC and the White House (Reagan and Bush I & II)

 (If you don't know what ALEC is - please see the links at the end of this diary.)

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) admits that 1/3 of state legislators belong to their organization.

ALEC reported in 2005 that 89 ALEC Alumni were in the US Congress or 16.6% of the US Congress (It is my belief that the actual number of ALEC’s Alumni are under-reported by ALEC, with the number of ALEC Alumni serving in the Congress being well over 100.  (If you include Federal appointees – such as Tom Vilsack, currently  or historically Donald Rumsfeld, the number could become very frightening.)

But, have you ever wonder how close ALEC gets to the White House?


Well - here's a little history on ALEC and the White House.

The following are excerpts from the ALEC's 25th Annual Meeting Commemorative Program (1998) where they make the following statements:
So well received were the policies which ALEC proffered in the late 1970s, that eleven days after his inauguration, President Ronald Reagan invited a bipartisan delegation of 35 ALEC members to meet with him at the White House to help set the agenda for his New Federalism initiatives .

So then the question begs to be asked - was that a one time meeting?
During briefings in May and December of 1981, hundreds of ALEC legislators discussed policy changes directly with the President

No.

Did it stop with just those two months of "discussions ... directly with the President"?
As a result of the interaction that ALEC members had with Reagan Administration officials, ALEC established seven Cabinet Task Forces to work directly with the administration 
But that didn't mean they had a close relationship - correct?

Finally, in 1986, it was decided that - as a result of the constant interaction with the Reagan Administration, the successes of policies it proposed, and the generally high regard with which its ideas were met-ALEC should form formal internal Task Forces to develop policy covering virtually every aspect of government 

And surely that was the end of it - right?
...  hundreds of ALEC legislators discussed policy changes directly with the President [Reagan] and his top policy advisors-a practice that would continue throughout the twelve years of the Reagan and Bush presidencies.

Yep - twelve years, 1981 - 1993.

Explains why they gave the prestigious "Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award" to Reagan in 1990 and  George H. Bush in 1993.

And then, of course - you have this...
President Bush is welcomed by ALEC members at the opening session of the 1992 Annual Meeting in Colorado Springs. Joining the President at the head table were Ambassador Holly Coorst Senator Ray Powers (CO), Mr. Allen Auger of Coors Brewing Company, Incoming National Chairman Senator William J. Raggio (NV), ALEC Executive Director Samuel A. Bruneffi, …  Major speakers included: President George Bush; Secretary of the Interior Manuel Lujan; Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander; Secretary of Transportation Andrew Card; Secretary of Health and Human Service Louis Sullivan; Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Jack Kemp, Deputy Attorney General George Terwilleger

Thank god Clinton was in office from 1993 - January, 2001.

But once Reagan and George 41 were out of office it stopped there, didn't it?
Well maybe, depending how you define the concept of "constant interaction" and remember, by then ALEC was getting a little more guarded about their operations.

But then I think it probably started up all over again.

The 2001 [States and Nation Policy] Summit began with a White House briefing from President George Bush and some of his top aides, including Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge (a former Pennsylvania governor),White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and White House Intergovernmental Affairs Director Ruben Barrales. President Bush briefed ALEC members on the need for more coordination between federal, state and local governments in the fight against terrorism. (ALEC 2001 Annual Report) 

And then there's this...
The 2002 [States and Nation Policy] Summit attracted more than 300 state legislators from 43 states.
One of the key highlights of the meeting was a briefing by President George W. Bush on homeland security and the situation in Iraq. During the briefing at the White House, U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige and Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge joined President Bush in offering remarks. (ALEC 2002 Annual Report)

And this from the annual meeting in 2003
Vice President Richard B. Cheney
Thank you very much. I appreciate that warm welcome, and I’m especially honored to be this year’s award winner of the Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award. It means a great deal. I’ve got enormous respect for ALEC and for what the organization stands for.

I see many friends from across America out there tonight, and it’s good to bring you greetings from President George W. Bush. He sends you his very best.   ...   President Bush and I appreciate the good work you do, and we value your advice, and we appreciate your support.

It was pretty easy to see why Reagan got the Jefferson - but I wonder why Cheney got the award?  (Would it have anything to do with his “infamous” Energy “Task Force” - the timing is about right?) Maybe "W" couldn't pronounce Jeffersonian or federalism  - there's probably a wide array of options for "why not W" I guess. 

2004 was an election year - so I don't think ALEC was on the agenda for anyone at the White House.

And then there is this
President George W. Bush Addresses ALEC's 32nd Annual Meeting (2005 Annual Meeting in Grapevine, Texas)
  while promoting an aggressive domestic agenda that includes changes to Social Security, immigration and the tax code. "I hope Congress gets a good rest because they got a lot of work to do when they get back," Mr. Bush told the members of the American Legislative Exchange Council convened for their 32nd Annual Meeting.

2006... George W - sent a video message to the annual meeting.

And then this
Among the many highlights of ALEC’s 34th Annual Meeting (2007) in Philadelphia this summer was a surprise visit by President George W. Bush. The president was warmly welcomed by ALEC members Thursday morning, who reserved their loudest applause for his promise to veto any tax increase Congress sends him.  (Inside ALEC 2007 - George W was the cover shot)

And that would be an additional 8 years of linkage to the White House.

Nice marketing pitch, wonder why it isn't in their materials? "You too, a legislator from Hobunk America, can have direct access to the President of the United States through your membership in ALEC."  Maybe that's part of the "secretive" stuff.

Is their close relationship with the White House done?  Probably not, if you ponder carefully to the words of Jack Kemp from 1983.

“I have been closely associated with ALEC’s work for many years, and can attest to its importance as a valuable source of information for lawmakers on both the
state and national level.  …”  (Jack Kemp (NY) 1983 Annual Report)

Conservatives cannot cherish tradition because it is tradition, but because it is true! The values that we hold are true for all people and for all time. ”  He inspired the audience with his assertion that, “In the final analysis we're going to win. There is no holding us back—history is on our side. 
(on the Jack Kemp (NY)  Keynote Speech, ALEC 1983 Annual Meeting)

Besides the shock and awe some of you may be feeling - there is a moral to this story.


Voting has consequences
and one of the consequences of a Republican president
is ALEC in the White House.


Reprinted with permission from MnDem999 – A member of the Exposing ALEC Group at Daily Kos.


For more information on ALEC –

And watch this news video  from North Carolina on how other ALEC "model legislation" is going to screw the citizens of North Carolina - legislation introduced by ALEC legislators.

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A vote for an ALEC legislative candidate -
is a vote for greater pro-corporate representation and legislation  in your state,
is a vote against small and medium size business in your state,
is a vote against representative government for the people, and
is a vote against the very beliefs of the United States of America.

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