ALEC’s Own US Senator?

From Mother Jones by Andy Kroll…

Excerpts from this important and informative article:

“Before his 14-year stint as governor, before President George W. Bush tapped him to run the Department of Health and Human Services, and before his cushy gig as a wining-and-dining Washington lobbyist,Republican Tommy Thompson began carving out a reputation as powerful state legislator in Wisconsin. He rose quickly through the ranks of the Wisconsin GOP, and went on to become the longest-serving governor in state history. On his way to the top, Thompson found help in an influential policy organization then little known to the public: the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC…”

Three of Thompson’s signature legislative changes as Wisconsin governor bear ALEC’s fingerprints. In 1998, Thompson signed so-called Truth-in-Sentencing legislation into law. The measure—which 25 other states had passed in 1995 with ALEC’s help—increased maximum sentences for felons and eliminated parole. Wisconsin’s own version of the bill mirrored legislation written by ALEC. Then-Assemblyman Scott Walker (now governor) said that ALEC’s statistics on the benefits of the bill “were very helpful” to passing the bill.

Truth-in-sentencing legislation originated out of ALEC’s Criminal Justice Task Force, members of which included private prison companies such as the massive Corrections Corporation of America. It came as no surprise that Wisconsin’s law soon drove up corrections spending: Over the course of Thompson’s tenure, corrections spending ballooned from $179 million in 1990 to nearly $850 million in 2001—a windfall for companies like CCA. A 2010 report by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance noted that, between 1993 and 1999, Wisconsin imprisoned six times as many people as neighboring Minnesota, despite the two states having strikingly similar populations and demographics…”

The full article MJ is available here