Friday, July 5, 2013

How ALEC Pay-to-Play Works

We often hear/see the phrase "pay-to-play" when reading/listening to information about lobbyist interaction with government officials, at any level of government.

I suppose there are one or two people out there that really want to know
How does this ALEC public-private partnership work.

Well here’s a real life example from the 80’s.
A historical example - that I doubt has changed much in the last thrity years.
If it ain't broke - why fix it?

A testament to 30 plus years of corporate interference in government made possible by ALEC.
ALEC is like NO other 501c3 non-profit organization in the US.
NO other 501c3 non-profit organization in the history of the United States facilitates corporations to directly legislate the US.

This is what corporate "pay-to-play" in our government, facilitated by the extremist pro-corporate American Legislative Exchange Council,  looks like.

The public piece.
In 1987 Florida implemented a sales tax on services.
September 27, 1987|By Donna O'Neal, Sentinel Tallahassee Bureau

TALLAHASSEE — When Florida stepped into the national spotlight last April with a sweeping new tax on services, other states facing enormous revenue needs reacted like runners-up in a beauty contest.

They were a little awed, somewhat inspired and just a bit envious that Florida, the traditional wallflower of new taxes, could be crowned the queen of tax reform.
But – publicly it didn’t go well – the public sentiment after awhile was not the best.
The public - the citizens - the constituents - didn't like it.
If left alone - the public would have taken care of this.

But ALEC and the corporations had to put their noses into the mess.
ALEC and ALEC corporations didn't like it either.
And ALEC stepped right in to rub Florida’s nose in it.
''There's a little bit of smirking'' going on in other states, said Constance Heckman of the American Legislative Exchange Council in Washington, a policy institute for state legislatures.
That could be when Florida became the ALEC lapdog – public humiliation and all.

But – other states saw the extra tax revenue that Florida was bringing in and they really weren’t smirking.
Other states were talking about implementing taxes on services.

How do we know?
Because of what was happening behind the scenes, as usual – in secret -

The private piece
Here’s what was recorded in a 1987 document from RJ Reynolds
State and Local Activities

The following major corporations met in Washington on July 23 to discuss the state advertising tax issue:  RJ, Sears, McDonald, Proctor & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, American Cyanamid and Avon.  The group agreed to form a national coalition to deal with this project prior to the 1988 legislative session.  At this meeting, Larry Bewley presented and RJRT proposal, which will basically set up a coalition network to fund a $300,000 grant proposal from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that will form new tax policy on revenue concerns for 1988.  Ten companies will serve on the steering committee, with ultimately 50 companies as members of the coalition.  The importance of this coalition is emphasized by the fact that 19 states are actively looking at a tax on services.  The coalition will also put together a working group to address the Florida tax on services that went into effect on July 1, 1987.  Larry is working with Bob Witzel (RJRN) to make sure the tax and legal aspects are adequately addressed.
Ten companies
All of them ALEC members at the time
Giving to ALEC
  (yes, there is a typo in that sentence)
  (corporate money flows to ALEC, not from)
To write tax reform legislation
prior to the 1988 legislative session
to alleviate "revenue concerns" for 1988

The corrupt private - public partnership
And did that corporate funded study happen?
You bet your a$$!
A snip from the Mackinac Center

By Lawrence W. Reed, published on Jan. 1, 1988

A 1987 study by the American Legislative Exchange Council pointed out that the regressive impact of the sales tax on low income people would be further magnified with its extension to services. It would show up in their medical, dental and legal bills, for instance. Taxes on construction services would surely price some of them out of the housing market.

ALL ALEC documents were secret until 2011.
So we have no way of knowing if the legislation the corporations paid $300,000 to have researched and written, was written 
But - it probably was.

And why would ALEC do that?
Because since day one has held a twisted and demented interpretation of the "free-market"
But Constance Heckman, executive director of ALEC, sees little chance of conflict.
"We are conservative, we are pro-business," she said. "They (tobacco companies) don't change us. They just compound our effectiveness on the issues that we agree on."
      "They just compound our effectiveness"
Yep, $300,00 in 1987 was a helluva compound.

Since day one ALEC has held a twisted and demented interpretation of the "free-market"which included -

If the "free-market" isn't working for ALEC Corporate members
- ALEC will artificially manipulate the "free-market"
- intentionally write and distribute legislation that will
- favor of ALEC Corporate members.

And this has been going on for thirty plus years
Because US citizens have not said:
The USA is NOT OK with ALEC.

No comments:

Post a Comment