We Need To Talk About ALEC
Hello again, everybody! First off, I hope everyone is taking good care of themselves and finding ways to stay healthy and rested while finding each of your own ways to ‘Resist’ the madness! I know that things feel differently than they did just 7 months ago, but don’t lose hope…and never give up!
That being said, I wanted to dig a little deeper to bring something to more people’s attention because I feel that it is of growing importance. Well…it’s BEEN important for a quite a few years now; it’s that we just didn’t know it…and now we need to change that before it’s utterly too late. We need to talk about ALEC.
No, not Baldwin; I’m talking about ‘The American Legislative Exchange Council’. Some of you out there may have heard of this organization, or at least heard their name mentioned, and some of you may know what it is that they actually do. For those in the know this will be review; and for those who don’t all I can say is…prepare to let me open your eyes a little more. You see, it turns out that ALEC isn’t just a corporation; it’s also “America’s largest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state legislatures…Comprised of nearly one-quarter of the country’s state legislators…”.
Just so we’re all clear on this point…this statement is from their own website. They’re not even lying about who it is that they’re trying to target as their audience and members. Yes, that’s right…it’s YOUR legislative REPRESENTATIVES. Why? I’m so glad you asked. Well, lets start out with what might be in it for the corporation itself. So, as the old saying goes, let’s “follow the money” and start with the very corporations that make ALEC possible in the first place.
Here are only SOME of the companies that have a vested interest in ALEC. See if they look familiar:
- Koch Industries (Yes, THOSE Kochs)
- Pfizer Inc.
- Time Warner Cable
These are only a few of the companies that are involved with ALEC. Since 2011 they have started to cover themselves up a little bit better about which companies are involved. The ones I’ve mentioned here can be found on this list; along with companies that were associated but have since opted out (http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/ALEC_Corporations). Notice that the Koch brothers are on this list. Not sure about anyone else, but I have yet to see anything good come from the association of those two.
The next question: why is that? Why do any companies/corps give financing to one single entity? What exactly is the interest in keeping ALEC afloat with money? Well, to answer that question, let’s go to our next step and look at “who” make ALEC so interesting; shall we?
Let’s start with the Board of Directors (and please keep in mind that you can find this on the ALEC website). See if you can recognize anyone:
- Jim Buck (IN)
- Sen. Wayne Niederhauser
- Rep. Jason Saine
- Sen. Debbie Lesko (AZ)
- Sen. Leah Vukmir
- Sen. Joel C. Anderson
- Del. Kathy Byron (VA)
- Rep. Alan Clemmons
- Sen. Andre E. Cushing, III
- Sen. Gary Daniels
- Rep. David Frizzell
- Spk Phillip Gunn (MS)
- Rep. Yvette Herrell
- Spk Bill Howell (VA)
- Sen. Brian Kelsey
- Rep. Phil King
- Rep. Dawn Pettengill
- Rep. John Piscopo
- Rep. David Reis
- Sen. Bill Seitz
- Sen. Jim Smith
- Sen. Susan Wagle
- Spk Linda Upmeyer (IA)
- Rep. Harold Brubaker
- Rep. Tom Craddick
- Rep. Noble Ellington
Are you asking yourself why would all these politicians want to be associated with a corporation that is funded by all those other companies/corps? What on earth could they possibly be getting out of this? Also, why are there some people, who currently sit in government, on this board? How does this affect me? Glad you asked…let’s take a closer look at some other information on ALEC itself.
I have to note here that in order to bring some things to light I have to go back a some years on ALEC. Remember I mentioned that since around 2011 this group seemed to be “covering” themselves up a little better? You see, I can find several articles written around 2011-12…but something odd happens after this time period. Articles written about them after that are like a blue-moon; rarely seen. This also makes it harder to find what companies/corps are still donating to and associated with ALEC. While I’m confident of my ‘source list’; any of those companies could easily claim they have separated themselves from ALEC, yet STILL make donations privately thanks to another problem we have on our hands; “Citizens United”. I won’t get into that here, that’s another blog for another day.
So final question: What is a single entity, funded by a number of companies and corps, with a good number of legislative members from many states, doing, exactly? Simply put: They’re making new bills hoping that they become YOUR new laws.
ALEC has been around for some time. They were originally formed about 40 years ago and although the interests for ALEC have more than likely changed over the years, the concept has been the same; get members of congress/senate to be part of the group in order to shape government, defeat political opponents, and the gradual privatization of…well…everything. Some of ALEC’s favorite things to help try and privatize are: prisons, schools in the form of for-profit colleges and charter schools (I’ve mentioned these in my last piece), healthcare, even the environment (this should not surprise you, ALEC love them some oil Cos.).
In a nutshell ALEC and the people who make up the group are a think-tank. They work, probably daily, to find new ways to create new bills that attack everything that is meant to protect you, me, and the country as a whole. I bet you’re asking if they have been successful in passing any bills. The answer is ‘Absolutely’. Remember AZ SB1070? ALEC. The bills that allow ‘Payday Loan’ centers to start up? (These are places that loan you money but turn around and give you an interest rate of around 300% in hopes you NEVER pay off the balance.) ALEC. How about “Stand Your Ground” laws? Yup…ALEC. Bills that want to stop EPA protections and deregulate existing ones so they can pour more corporate dollars into private Cos that are ruining more and more of the environment? Guess who?
What ALEC does is create what they call “model bills” (aka a template) for state reps/senators so that all they literally have to do is fill in the blanks with their name and state and introduce then to the house floor for debate. That’s it. ALEC has instrumentally taken the legislative thought process of painstakingly writing a bill out of the hands of lawmakers and turned into a manufacturing process. They’re basically making bills like General Motors make cars. And just like car manufacturers, ALEC’s goal is to distribute the bills they concoct all over the country. Deconstruction of civil liberties, privatization of anything/everything profitable, and justice for the “1-percenters” ONLY.
If that’s not enraging enough then this is good time to point out that since ALEC was set up as an NPO (technically it’s set up as a “public charity under section 501(c)(3) of the tax code” [NYT: https://nyti.ms/2jEpXXx]) they pay NO taxes and each and every one of the companies/corps that “donate” to their cause can get a nice big, fat tax write off; not to mention that OUR tax dollars possibly go toward the funding of places just like ALEC.
The last point I’ll make here is that you should know that ALEC has now made it all the way up to the White House. Surprisingly, it’s not Trump. No ALEC is there in the form of Mike Pence and former Trump transition team member and now “voter fraud” hunter (insert eye rolls here) Kris Kobach (who also had a hand in writing the framework for SB1070). Both are detestable although I should note that while you can still find Pence on ALEC’s website you cannot find Kris Kobach and that should tell you all you need to know about him if a group like that has distanced even themselves from him. You can see a full list of current/former members at the “Alumni” page of their website. I’ll list it at the bottom along with a few other links.
Ok, so, I didn’t really write this in hopes of upsetting people; though it is upsetting and, truth be told, this was very difficult to research and even harder to write. I want you all to be aware of this group, of who is in it, the danger it poses, the damage they do and have helped create, and to spread word to make even more people aware of them. The more we out this group, these people, the LESS effective they are going to be. This group is designed to do damage at the State level and they want all their bills in all 50 of them.
We have collectively started to rise up, push back, demand truth, demand accountability, and demand our leaders stop taking from the very people who put them there in the first place…US. How do we fight a group like ALEC? We phone, fax, email, march, protest, and we DAMN SURE make it out to vote on November 6th, 2018! We need to start flipping some districts not just here in AZ, but nationwide! We have to get these people gone and weaken the support for ALEC until we can finally figure out a way to get the corporate dollar away from politics.
As always, here are my sources for this piece. I wanted to give you another video on ALEC and I found one. Sorry to keep deferring to John Oliver but he nails this perfectly. I’ve jogged it to 12:45 in where his explanation starts.
Guest blog by @loekey9