Warehouse E

Exposing ALEC

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ALEC: Shadowy Manipulator Of State Governments

By James Donahue

It is known in government circles as ALEC. This is an acronym for American Legislative Exchange Council, an extreme right-wing organization that few of us have ever heard of but one that for the last 30 years has been silently controlling state legislative action designed to serve corporate interests and drain us financially.

One writer has described ALEC as the “ultimate smoke filled back room” with such powers as the Koch Brothers, big tobacco, the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry pulling the strings.

On the surface, ALEC takes on the appearance of a good idea. Its membership is mostly comprised of state legislators who pay a membership fee that allows them to attend regular collective meetings, retreats and discuss model legislation. It appears to be a justified way for elected state legislators to pool their ideas and keep abreast of how other states are handling the issues of the day.

But the dark secret ingredient in this mix is the other unseen and unnamed members. Actually they are the ALEC corporate contributors that pay millions to gain access to those legislators and promote corporate-crafted legislation.

ALEC is in reality the ultimate state lobby operation that uses its manipulative resources to sell, buy or coax state legislators to introduce and push for passage of state laws favoring big business interests often at the expense of constituents.

The setup behind ALEC has been extremely successful. While the media and the public has eyes trained on corruption in Washington, there has been little attention paid to the goings on at state levels. And it is here where the dirty deeds have been secretly going on.

One report noted that in 2009 alone, ALEC was behind the introduction of 826 state bills, with 115 of them approved and signed into law.

The agency has worked against climate change control, blocking competative imports of prescription drugs, blocking local communities from offering low-cost municipally-owned broadband access to the Internet, relaxed auditing and accounting controls on insurance companies, pressing to force seniors to submit to reverse mortgages on their homes to be eligible for Medicaid and protecting the asbestos industry from lawsuits by mesothelioma patients.

To coin an old phrase: this appears to be only the tip of the iceberg. For more in-depth information as to what ALEC is up to we recommend the website ALEC Exposed at: http://alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed. We also recommend that you examine the bills the elected state representative and senator in your own district voted for in the last two years before you go to the polls in November. If you have a chance to shake their hands in public rallies, ask about their involvement in ALEC. Make sure they haven’t sold out to big corporate interests.

The exposure of ALEC is slowly coming to light after a lot of damage has been done. Such groups as Common Cause, Progressive Change Committee and Color of Change are working to conduct a petition campaign to stop this behind-the-scenes deal making. They have been using e-mail and Twitter to reach a lot of people. As of last week, at least 60,000 people have signed the petition or written their elected legislators.

PCC’s state organizing director James Ploeser suggests that the organization is targeting participating corporations, forcing them to stop financing ALEC. The current target is AT&T.