Friday, December 14, 2012

ALEC - A Primer Reminder

As we get ready to spend time with friends and families over the holidays - we should consider that it would be a good time to educate them on ALEC.

As we get ready to start a new political year and we hopefully activating friends and family to help us with our on-going exposure of ALEC - let’s review a little bit of what we know so far.

What is ALEC?
The American Legislative Exchange Council is an organization that focuses on the promotion and nationwide distribution of specific political policies and issues.  ALEC facilitates the writing of “model legislation” and holds meetings to educate ALEC legislators on how to introduce and promote the “model legislation”.  At the meetings and in ALEC distributed publications, ALEC gives their members the talking points to help them sponsor and promote ALEC “model legislation”.  In addition, the ALEC staff provides one-on-one assistance to legislators who are having trouble introducing or passing ALEC "model legislation".

Who are members of ALEC?
State legislators
Federal legislators
City, county and other local public servants
State unelected and appointed public servants
Federal unelected and appointed public servants
District, state, and federal judges

Does ALEC share its member lists with the public?

Do ALEC members disclose their membership in ALEC?
Most of them do NOT.

Is ALEC a bi-partisan organization like NCSL?
Almost 100% of the members are Republicans.
Currently 100% of the public task force co-chairs are Republicans
Historically – 100% of the ALEC Board Chairs have been Republican

How much does it cost to become a member?
For Legislators;  $25 or $50 per year
For Corporations:  $2,500 to $50,000 per year
Really rich legislators can buy a lifetime membership to ALEC known as a “legacy” membership that costs $5,000.  Some have used campaign funds donated by their supporters to buy this $5,000 membership.

What areas do the “Model Legislation” focus on?
Climate Denial
Privatization of government goods and services
Privatization of public schools
Sale of publicly owned assets
Sale of the commons
Elimination of consumer protections
Destruction of the working class through elimination of unions and elimination of the minimum wage and the living wage
Tenther legislation to promote state sovereignty

What happens at ALEC meetings?
The ALEC meetings function for four main purposes
To introduce and preliminarily pass ALEC legislation in task force meetings.  ALEC task force documents posted by Common Cause show that most of the legislation is written by corporations.
To hear presentations that that support the key points and concepts of ALEC legislation
To give corporations “an equal voice and vote” on legislation that will be introduced in the state and federal legislatures
To give corporate representatives (aka lobbyists) private, closed door access to state and federal legislators

Who belongs to ALEC task forces?
Corporate representative (most are registered lobbyists)
State legislators - preference is given to those who have sponsored ALEC legislation
Public servants at the state and federal level who serve as members or advisers
US Congressional members who serve as advisers

Who writes the “model legislation” introduced in the task forces?
Mostly, corporations

Does a corporation have to pay additional fees, over and above their membership dues, to ALEC?
Corporations pay from $2,500 to $10,000 to be a member on an ALEC task force in order to draft, introduce, debate, and vote on ALEC “model legislation”
Corporations pay up to $150,000 to sponsor events at ALEC meetings
Corporations pay up to $15,000 to be on ALEC task forces where they can introduce legislation and then vote on ALEC "model legislation"
Corporations can pay from $25,000 - $40,000 to sponsor a workshop at an ALEC meeting - which would educate ALEC legislators on specific talking points needed for proposing and promoting ALEC legislation.
Corporations can pay up to $40,000 to sponsor ALEC reports that describe and propose legislation that could benefit their industry
Corporations can pay up to $80,000 to sponsor an ALEC 2-day academy in your state to educate legislators on ALEC legislation that they want introduced.
Corporations can pay up to $15,000 to sponsor an ALEC "State Factor" which is a topic specific short article that supports legislation that ALEC is proposing.
Corporations can pay up to $5,000 to sponsor an ALEC "Issue Briefing" which is a topic specific short article that supports legislation that ALEC is proposing.
Corporations pay for scholarships for legislators to attend ALEC meetings to meet with corporate representatives.  Scholarship funding is given out to state legislators with preference given to ALEC task force members >>>>> who have sponsored or supported<<<<< ALEC “model legislation” in their state legislature

Are ALEC meetings open to the public?
Since ALEC introduces and passes “model legislation” at their meetings are these meetings open to the public – since this legislation will affect the public?

Do I know what legislation introduced in our state and federal government is written at ALEC meetings?
There is no public disclosure which legislation being introduced in your was written by ALEC members.

How is this different than other organizations that legislators belong to?
ALEC is the only organization that your legislators belong to where corporations actually write, discuss and vote on the “model legislation”. That corporate written legislation is then brought to the state and federal legislatures by ALEC legislators.

ALEC is the only organization that your legislators belong to that is funded by corporations– up to 98% of ALEC revenue comes from corporations.

How is this different from regular types of lobbying.
Through ALEC, corporate representatives (mostly registered lobbyists) can meet privately and out of the eye of the public in closed settings.
Through ALEC, corporations can pay unlimited amounts of money directly to ALEC for the opportunity to privately influence state and federal legislators.

Isn’t this wrong?
Most would say yes.
ALEC legislators have passed statutes and laws in their states that allow them to participate in ALEC meetings.

Even though ALEC publicly states they are bi-partisan, ALEC members use “close door caucus” types of statutes to protect the secrecy of ALEC meetings.  Caucus closed door meeting laws are normally reserved for meetings of members of only the Democratic party or only of Republican party when they need to talk specific political party policy.  The caucus closed meeting statutes are also used to protect the content of ALEC meetings.

What you are saying is
    ALEC is a politically active organization
    That brings legislation into our legislatures
    Written and voted on by corporations
    And the authorship of this legislation is hid from the public
    And ALEC meetings are closed to the public
    And ALEC members are hidden from the public
    And ALEC is behind some of the nasty legislation
        we are seeing introduced in many states at the same time??

Basically, yes.

Is there anything else I should know?
ALEC is a registered 501c3 charitable organization.
ALL monies paid to ALEC from the corporations are written off as tax deduction against their income when the corporations are calculating and report their income to the US and state governments.  Therefore, lower taxes are collected from the corporations because of their participation in ALEC.

IF this is true – why haven’t I heard about this in the mainstream media?
Oh – it is TRUE
Why the mainstream media is not covering ALEC is a mystery to all who know about ALEC.  It could range from ignorance, reluctance to do the necessary investigations, fear of litigation, corporate control, etc – who knows???

Should I be really worried about ALEC?
Without the orchestration of legislators and legislation, BY ALEC, none of the horrendous legislation we are seeing would proliferate the way it has.  We can see it over and over and over again – in state after state after state – “model legislation” after “model legislation”.  And there is only ONE, only ONE factor that is the cause of this – ALEC.

No other extremist right wing organization has the ability to - pass legislation. No other extremist right wing organization has access to state legislators. No other extremist right wing organization has  “model legislation” to supply to the  legislators - to introduce & enact, EXCEPT ALEC.

We need to start placing responsibility and blame, when applicable, on ALEC for their political agenda.  BLAME for the ongoing weakening and destruction of historically acceptable and viable systems and processes of our country  - caused by ALEC “model legislation”, ALEC legislators - devastation caused by the American Legislative Exchange Council.

EVERY state that does not currently have ALEC's Right-to-Work (for Less) must live in constant vigilance and FEAR - awaiting the onslaught of ALEC legislation that will destroy their way of life and the economy in their state.

I can’t believe that this horrible thing is happening in the USA!!!
I would like to believe that what you are telling me is not true.
Do you have other resources I can check?

YES, just follow the links below:
Bill Moyers’ 30 minute Expose’ on ALEC

A 18 minute Radio Interview about ALEC
Just click >>>LISTEN TO THIS SEGMENT<<< on the page to just hear only the interview about ALEC.

ALEC Model Legislation showing Corporate Authors

A partial list of ALEC Corporate members
      (remember most memberships are hidden/secret)

Investigative research on ALEC’s agenda – nationally and internationally

Investigative reporting identifying and exposing ALEC members and others affiliated with ALEC
      (remember most memberships are hidden/secret) 
    Daily Kos
Introductory series of six specific articles on ALEC

And last – but not least   
A wide range of original ALEC documents, state specific reports on ALEC and award winning reporting on ALEC from the investigative reporting group at the
   Center for Media and Democracy
        ALEC Exposed

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