Saturday, February 9, 2013

ALEC - Offering a 501c3 Education in Unethical Behvaior

I believe the actions of ALEC could be deemed as highly unethical.   I also believe when legislators are allowed to attend ALEC meetings – unethical behavior is being reinforced by their attendance at ALEC meetings.
  • Most ALEC legislators know when you pass off a bill you did not write, as your own - that is plagiarism - which they know is wrong.  But ALEC condones it and encourages this unethical behavior.
  • Most ALEC legislators know when they spend more time with corporate lobbyists at ALEC meetings than they do with their constituents - that this is wrong.   But ALEC condones it and encourages this unethical behavior.
  • Most ALEC legislators know when they accept "scholarships" paid for by corporate lobbyists to attend ALEC meetings  - this is wrong. But ALEC condones it and encourages this unethical behavior.
That is why most ALEC members are reluctant to admit their association with this extremist right-wing organization - cause they know it is wrong.  Most ALEC legislators are ashamed and embarrassed to admit they are associated with the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Think about it –
When we allow – yes allow (if we are not stopping it), our legislators to attend ALEC meetings – where we are condoning their attendance in closed door private meetings with corporate lobbyists – we are basically telling them that unethical behavior is okay.

If you want it to stop – you have to make it stop.  Legislators work for you - your tax dollars pay their salaries.
And if they won’t stop going to ALEC meetings – it is your responsibility to vote them out of office.

This is the second post of a series on alleged unethical behavior of ALEC members (past and present) that has been reported in the news.  (First post is here.)

Scott Bundgaard abruptly resigned from the Arizona Senate on Friday, shortly before he was to testify before the chamber's Ethics Committee about an altercation last year with his then-girlfriend.

His short letter gave no indication why Bundgaard chose to suddenly resign. But lawmakers and attorneys familiar with the Ethics Committee investigation said that, after a day and a half of damning testimony, the Senate likely would have expelled Bundgaard.

Georgia Rep. Kip Smith spent the hours before his recent DUI arrest with two other state lawmakers being entertained by three lobbyists, including one for Anheuser-Busch, show state records.

The lobbyists who paid the tab at Alfredo’s were Georgia EMC's Travis Bussey; David Raynor of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce; and Chuck McMullen, a managing director of the Atlanta office of McKenna Long and Aldridge.  McMullen is lobbyist for a number of clients, including Anheuser-Busch and private prison operator Corrections Corporation of America.

Missouri Rep. Vicki Schneider scored $600 worth of free tickets to the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert on May 25 at St. Louis' Scottrade Center, courtesy of AmerenUE.  The St. Louis-based electric utility "didn't have anybody to take the tickets," said Schneider.  She said she accepted four tickets but used only one – for herself – when she could not find anyone to go with her.

State Rep. Stephen LaRoque resigned from the North Carolina General Assembly several hours after House Speaker Thom Tillis said he would launch a special committee to publicly investigate his former lieutenant, who was indicted by a federal grand jury recently.

LaRoque was indicted on charges of theft from a program that receives federal funds and money laundering.  He set up two nonprofits, run by a for-profit management firm, as intermediaries to lend millions of dollars in federal funds to struggling rural business owners.

Joseph Bruno, a former New York Senate majority leader, was charged with taking bribes and kickbacks in a fraud scheme during his long tenure in office, setting up another battle with federal prosecutors who won a conviction against him in 2009.  The indictment comes nearly six months after a federal appeals court vacated Bruno’s previous conviction because of a ruling in a separate case by the U.S. Supreme Court that undermined the government’s legal claims against Bruno.  But the appeals court said Bruno could be retried on different charges.

Richard Hartunian, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of New York, charged Bruno with taking $440,000 in payments disguised as consulting fees from an Albany businessperson.  "Bruno did not perform legitimate consulting work commensurate with the money that he was paid," states the indictment.

If convicted, Bruno would face up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 on each of two fraud counts.

Former Pennsylvania House Speaker John Perzel will be spending at least the next two-and-one-half years in a state prison, a sentence handed down for his role in a $10 million scheme to use public funds for campaigning.  Perzel and three former staffers, including Perzel's ex-chief of staff, all appeared before Dauphin County Judge Richard Lewis in Harrisburg.

"[Perzel's actions were a] shocking and flagrant violation of the public trust [and the result of] one man's quest for power," said Lewis.  He sentenced Perzel to between two-and-one-half years and five years in prison, followed by five years on probation.  Perzel also will pay $1 million in restitution to the commonwealth and $30,000 in fines for the eight charges of theft, conspiracy, and conflict-of-interest he pleaded guilty to in August out of an original 82 counts

SC House Speaker Accused of Using Influence to Help His Company
South Carolina  -  The State  -  January 23, 2013

House Speaker Bobby Harrell has abused his legislative power by trying to aid his pharmaceutical business, said the head of a think tank, arguing that abuse is another sign the state needs tougher ethics rules.  South Carolina Policy Council President Ashley Landess said ethics reform efforts must remove conflicts-of-interest.  "We're not headed for a place where one politician with extraordinary power can set himself above the law – we're there," said Landess.

Landess also provided a copy of a handwritten note on the speaker's office stationery that was sent to the Pharmacy Board with the state application.  "We would appreciate your urgent attention to this request," said the note, which was signed "Bobby Harrell."

"[The e-mails] suggest the [state's] most powerful politician used his office to benefit his personal company," said Landess, adding she does not think Harrell is alone in improperly using his elected office.
The Texas Ethics Commission fined state Rep. Linda Harper-Brown $2,000 for failing to report as income a new Mercedes-Benz she drove, which was given to her husband by a state contractor.  Harper-Brown was in violation of the law because she was in actual control of the $56,000 Mercedes-Benz E550 and failed to report it on her 2008 and 2009 financial disclosure forms, said the commission.
Phillip A. Hamilton, a former high-ranking member of the Virginia House of Delegates, has been sentenced to nearly a decade in federal prison after a May conviction on bribery and extortion charges.

Hamilton served as vice chairman of the House appropriations committee before voters ousted him in 2009 from the House seat he had held for 21 years. A jury found that the Newport News Republican steered a $500,000 earmark to Old Dominion University, securing a $40,000-a-year position at the university in return.

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