Sunday, July 15, 2012

ALEC Bits and Pieces This Past Week

Sometimes I find stuff that I just can’t build out – a lot of times to be specific.
But there are things I find that should not go unnoticed and might be of interest to others.

Here’s a few of the snips from this week – if you are interested.

A template anyone could replicate.
Gotta give this guy credit for posting this for all to have.
Read it  >>>HERE<<<<

Media Matters was busy this past week.
Comparing ALEC with NCLS (the big lie ALEC members tell the press)
A few of comparisons of Media Matters drew between NCLS and ALEC
NCSL: Publishes A List Of Its Private Sector Sponsors. A list of private sponsors of NCSL and their level of financial participation is available to the public on the organization's website. [, accessed 6/4/12]

ALEC doesn't have to disclose the names of legislators and executives who attend.

NCSL differs from ALEC in that only legislators and staffers are able to be members, and NCSL rarely writes model legislation. [The Washington Post, 12/27/11, emphasis added]
   •  Model Bills Are Published Online.

ALEC Model Legislation Is Not Available To The Public. From the Shreveport Times:

NCSL Derives Most Of Its Contributions From State Legislatures And Federal Grants. According to the Center for Media and Democracy:

From 2007-09, ALEC Raised "$21,615,465 From Corporations, Foundations, And Other Sources, And Just Over $250,000 In Dues Paid By State Legislatures." According to the Center for Media and Democracy:

Civil rights advocates get it – why doesn’t the whole US get it?

“ALEC is a creature of evil,” that few people understand, said Bill Fletcher, labor and civil rights activist and creator of {}. “Hiding under the shroud of a nonprofit, this is a highly politicized outfit that provides ammunition for the Far Right to carry out its state-based initiatives.”

Dr. E. Faye Williams, national chair of the National Council of Black Women, said she now makes it a point to ask the businesses she patronizes whether they have ties to ALEC and similar organizations. And, she has already stopped doing business with several companies that are linked to ALEC.

She said, “If we spend our dollars with businesses that support ‘stand your ground laws’ and voter suppression then we’re supporting our own suppression. We need to come together and say, if you’re not going to support us, we’re not going to support you.”

Media Matters again – they had a busy week.
Drawing the connection between ALEC member Franklin Center and how the news is skewed in your local reporting.

July 11, 2012
Describing how articles written by the Franklin Center get posted as “real news” in your state papers.
When in fact the Franklin Center is a mouthpiece for the extremist right wing.

This was followed up by another article
July 12, 2012
that exposed:
Over a nine day period that month, the Franklin Center published vigorous defenses of ALEC from Franklin Center's president, vice president of journalism, and one of its board members, who acknowledged serving as public sector chair of an ALEC task force.

"The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity was a 'Vice-Chairman' level sponsor of 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Annual Conference, which in 2010, equated to $25,000.

And I found this 2001 report from WISCONSIN POLICY RESEARCH INSTITUTE, - a free market ALEC mini me.

I found this statement particularly interesting:
Teacher compensation comprises roughly 50 percent of all funds put into public education,1 which is more than any other single element of the budget for public schooling. Therefore, any alterations in the amount of teacher pay, or with how salaries are distributed among teachers, can have dramatic effects on public school budgets and the personnel priorities of school administrations.

Since teaching is labor and AI computers were not educating students in 2001 –
Yes! Compensation would be a large chunk of the budget.  What idiot would think this is not an appropriate budget line item?

Who would have known that ten years later Walker would be decimating education and teachers in Wisconsin and ALEC’s Corporate Profit Sector Member Academy Connections would be advertising on TV that kids can stay at home and get educated on a computer and not go to school – no teachers needed.

Found a couple of Amici Curia PDF’s ( here  and  here ) filed in relation to the ALEC Voter ID issue in Minnesota.

In that brief I found this
Law Firm Representing the Legislature is
Winthrop & Weinstine
Which led me to this

Legislative leaders voted Thursday to hire a private attorney to help fend off a challenge to a proposed photo ID constitutional amendment.

A panel made up of top legislative leaders, the Legislative Coordinating Commission, approved the decision by a mixed voice vote. It appeared that Republican leaders, who support the proposed changes in election laws, supported the measure, while DFLers, who generally oppose photo ID and related changes, opposed hiring an attorney.

The resolution calls for the Legislative Coordinating Commission to hire the Winthrop and Weinstine firm, at a cost estimated at $18,000. The firm is to intervene on behalf of the Legislature in a lawsuit challenging the ballot language of a proposed Photo ID constitutional amendment, which is scheduled to be submitted to voters in November.

But in doing the research on Winthrop and Weinstine I found this:

Shortly before Pawlenty stepped down as governor after the election of Mark Dayton, Tom Hanson announced he had accepted a new job as a full-time lobbyist for Minneapolis law firm Winthrop and Weinstine.

And this 
On December 6 of last year, the lame-duck St. Paul mayor [Norm Coleman]  had announced that before embarking full-time upon his campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, he would join the prominent Twin Cities lobbying and law firm of Winthrop & Weinstine.

And this: 
Profile: Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A.
Full-service law firm with an extensive legislative/lobbying practice
Offices in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota, founded 1979

And I guess my question becomes
When do firms need to state on their webpage what they do?
How do you really find out what law firms are up to???
Winthrop & Weinstine don’t have one mention on their webpage that they are lobbyists.

I wonder who they lobby for?
I wonder how well they know ALEC Corporate Profit Sector members?
I wonder if they have filed any Amici for ALEC, ever?

It made me wonder if ALEC is going to push for private sector transparencey as hard as they push for public sector transparency - probably not.

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