conservative think tanks

Koch Bros Exploit Loophole in Judicial Conduct Rules

Koch Bros Exploit Loophole in Judicial Conduct Rules

New Investigation Reveals Corporate Interests Have Been Quietly Influencing Federally Appointed Judges

Leave it to the Koch brothers to find a perfectly legal way to buy influence with federally appointed judges. The billionaire siblings are already well-established in their gluttonous abuse of lax campaign finance laws under Citizens United — pulling the strings of elected judges, but they’ve also been quietly greasing the palms of appointed judges too.

The Center for Public Integrity released a report on March 28th that details the results of their investigation into the corporate exploitation of a loophole found in The Code of Conduct for United States Judges. In that code, we find canon 4D(4) which refers to the Judicial Conference Gift Regulations which states that the following type of “gift” is allowable under the law, if it:

“…consists of an invitation and travel expenses, including the cost of transportation, lodging, and meals for the officer or employee and a family member to attend a bar-related function, an educational activity, or an activity devoted to the improvement of the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice.”

Translation: Training seminars, and plenty of them, with titles like “The Moral Foundations of Capitalism”, “Corporations and the Limits of Criminal Law”, Terrorism, Climate & Central Planning: Challenges to Liberty and the Rule of the Law”, and “Criminalization of Corporate Conduct”.

Sound like fun? Well, apparently 185 federal judges thought so. Fully 11 percent of these appointed members of the judiciary felt compelled to be wined, dined and “educated” in these classes, among the other 100 such seminars sponsored by corporate interests between 2008 and 2012.

Most seminars were paid for by multiple benefactors, but some sponsors were more enthusiatic than others. The Charles G. Koch Charitable Trust Foundation, The Searle Freedom Trust, ExxonMobil, Shell Oil, Pfizer, and State Farm Insurance all stepped-up to fund, or co-fund, 54 seminars each. The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Dow Chemical, AT&T, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce similarly shelled-out for around 50 learning experiences for our federal judges. Many of these seminars were held at George Mason University, who coincidentally recently received a $4.4 million donation from the Koch brothers.

Judicial impropriety, or just the appearance thereof?

For disallowed behaviors, the judicial code of conduct does not make a significant distinction between the two because their net result is the same: a public diminution of respect for the judiciary. But, since this activity is permissible, judges are fair game for corporate interests — and, boy do they ever know it.

Federal Judge E. Grady Jolly, of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, attended the 2009 seminar, “Criminalization of Corporate Behavior”, sponsored by American Petroleum and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The judge later went on to rule against the EPA in a suit where the plaintiffs were (you guessed it) American Petroleum and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

U.S. District Court Judge Carl J. Barber also attended that 2009 seminar, and went on to dismiss a strong wrongful death case against ExxonMobil and Chevron USA — both corporations were also co-sponsors of the seminar. This judge has recently been assigned the BP Deepwater Horizon case. He will decide if the oil company owes the U.S. billions in fines from the 2010 blow-out which killed 11, and damaged the gulf coast environment and economy for untold years and in yet undiscovered ways.

(editor’s note:  also please see VLTP’s Special Investigative Report – ALEC’s Koch-Funded Cabal’s Educating our Federal Judges, by clicking here)

Amy Kerr Hardin from Democracy Tree

democracy tree-vltp

Tory Blueprints for Public-Service Reforms

Tory Blueprints for Public-Service Reforms

As part of our continuing series about ALEC”s international reach, here is an article that we sent to us by our researcher in the North Seas.  You will read about plans to create for-profit public schools.  This should sound very familiar to you.

In this article you will read about how conservatives in England are trying to remake the Tory Party with a healthy dose of market forces.  We’re not going to try to translate “the Queen’s english” into “American” or try to go into the differences between the British and American public service sectors–including their education system (remember that their schooling is rated better than ours), but as you read through this article the comparisons to ALEC’s political agenda will be quite evident.  Cheers!

Revealed – Tory plan for firms to run schools for profit

Controversial proposal blocked by Lib Dems but is expected to appear in 2015 Conservative manifesto

Private companies would be able to run state schools for profit under a plan to be published by Conservative modernisers which could be introduced if the party wins the next general election.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has told friends he has no objections to “for profit” firms setting up the free schools independent of local authority control he has pioneered since 2010. The controversial idea has been vetoed by the Liberal Democrats, who fear it would be seen as back-door privatisation of the education system. It will not be implemented before the 2015 election, but is now seen as a front-runner for inclusion in the Tory manifesto.

Bright Blue, a modernising pressure group regarded as David Cameron’s natural ally, will propose the move in a book to be published next week calling for the Coalition’s public service reforms to be extended through an injection of market forces.

Although Mr Gove hopes that almost 200 free schools will be opened by September, the book argues that his revolution needs a boost to create more places in good schools. “The rhetoric does not match the reality,” it says, adding that only 24 free schools were set up in the last academic year.

“Relying on not-for-profit organisations and parent groups, which have limited funds, when Government’s capital spending is constrained, is not enough,” Bright Blue says. “The for-profit sector can play a role here, providing the money to get new schools set up.”

The book admits: “It will be important, of course, to convince the public that this does not stem from an ideological position: that somehow private is better than public and Tories are pursuing privatisation in awe of money-making. This is not true. This is a sensible, hard-headed policy which provides alternative funding sources to boost diversity and ultimately quality of education in this country, while – and this should be said time and time again – ensuring state education remains free at the point of use.”

According to Bright Blue, some profit-making schools in the US, Chile and Sweden have improved attainment. “The idea that commercial activity rots children’s souls, regurgitated by the anti-capitalist political left, belongs in the Dark Ages,” it argues.

“For-profit state schools are an example of applying Conservative means – faith in markets and competition – to deliver progressive ends – better free education for children with parents who lack the resources to give their children the best education.”

However, the book acknowledges the political risks. “Our motives need to be trusted,” it says. “We have to show why our ideas are more compassionate: that we are motivated by our hearts as well as our heads. That we’re looking out for the less fortunate, not just the gifted and talented. Our opponents demonise us: we have to prove them wrong.”

Bright Blue says that “bolder” use of market forces is not “privatisation” because it does not involve selling assets. Public services would still be state funded and free at the point of use. It insists that payment-by-results for private firms could prevent “cherry-picking” and ensure people with the most severe needs are helped most.

To raise school standards, the modernisers propose more “mixed-age classrooms, where children are taught by ability rather than age”. Pupils would not move up a year unless they attained basic standards. Other ideas include localised pay throughout the public sector; this has also been blocked by the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who believes it would widen the North-South divide.

The book warns that childcare is “too expensive” for “a significant minority of parents” who should be offered loans to be repaid only if their income reached a certain level. “Many Tories need to drop the ideological baggage about working women and start applying Conservative, market-based solutions to this vital period of education,” it says.

Ryan Shorthouse, director of Bright Blue and co-editor of the book, Tory Modernisation 2.0: the Future of the Conservative Party, told The Independent: “To secure a second term in government, the Conservative Party has to now relaunch the modernisation project. Deficit reduction and partnership with the Liberal Democrats has blown modernisation further off course, refuelling unfair stereotypes about Tories.

“Historically, Conservatism has been at its best when it is open-minded and big-hearted, providing ladders of opportunity for people from ordinary backgrounds. So the focus from now on needs to be helping these families with the cost of living and better public services.”

Bright Blue is a 2,000-strong group whose advisory board includes Theresa May, the Home Secretary; Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary; and David Willetts, the Universities minister.

Future is bright blue: Think tank’s plans

Tory modernisers’ blueprints for public-service reforms include:

* Allowing profit-making companies to run state schools, which would still be free at the point of use

* More state-school pupils to be taught in mixed-age classes and not allowed to move up a year until they attain certain standards

* Localised pay introduced throughout the public sector, and made performance related

* Moving more government bodies out of London to Northern cities

* Enabling private companies to hire and pay prisoners

* Ending the cap on student places so that universities can recruit as many undergraduates as they want

* Giving all homeowners the right to extend their home by one storey without planning permission

* Extending the student loans scheme to postgraduates

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This article is written by Andrew Grice and is published at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/exclusive-revealed–tory-plan-for-firms-to-run-schools-for-profit-8445066.html
the independent_Masthead

 

ALEC/Koch Cabal Attack on Clean Energy Begins in NC

Duke Energy & Koch Brothers kill clean energy in North Carolina

by Connor Gibson

As anticipated, former Duke Energy engineer and North Carolina Representative Mike Hager has introduced a version of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s “Electricity Freedom Act” into the state’s General Assembly.

House Bill 298 would fully repeal North Carolina’s renewable portfolio NC-Rep-Mike-Hager-214x300standard (RPS)–a state law requiring utilities to generate more electricity from clean sources over time. The existing RPS law is credited for contributing to the rapid growth of the clean energy sector in North Carolina.

By introducing a bill to fully repeal North Carolina’s RPS law, Rep. Hager is backtracking on his own promise not to eliminate current renewable energy targets for NC’s dominant utility, Duke Energy. From the Charlotte Business Journal last December:

Hager says he does not support eliminating the renewable requirements. N.C. utilities already have committed to long-term contracts to meet the current level of renewable-energy requirements. So changing the rules could cause problems for the utilities, he notes. That is why he generally favors capping renewables at the current level.

But Rep. Hager abandoned this position, instead marching in lockstep with the American Legislative Exchange Council’s full repeal initiative.

At least seven of the bill’s sponsors are known affiliates of ALEC, including three of the four primary sponsors–Rep’s Mike Hager, Marilyn Avila, George Cleveland, Rayne Brown, Justin Burr, Sarah Stevens, and Mike Stone.

ALEC has many other members in the NC legislature, including House Speaker Thom Tillis, who just joined ALEC’s national Board of Directors.

ALEC’s Electricity Freedom Act, the model bill reflected in Rep. MALEC-Heartlandike Hager’s H298, was born from its Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force and was written by the Heartland Institute, a member of the task force. Other members of ALEC anti-environmental task force include Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, Peabody Energy and Duke Energy.

Despite heavy public pressure to disassociate from ALEC’s attacks on clean energy, climate policy and other controversial subjects like voter suppression, Duke Energy remains a paying member of ALEC. Duke helped finance ALEC’s conference in Charlotte last spring, where the Electricity Freedom Act was first drafted:

Duke pays heavily for ALEC’s operations–they have spent $116,000 on ALEC meetings since 2009, including $50,000 for ALEC’s May 2012 meeting in Charlotte, NC where Duke is headquartered (Charlotte Business Journal). This well exceeds the top annual ALEC membership fee of $25,000.

As I wrote in January, Duke Energy (recently merged with Progress Energy) is now backtracking on their support for North Carolina’s clean energy standard:

This is where ALEC makes things awkward for Duke Energy: the law that Rep. Mike Hager is targeting (2007 SB3) was created with input from Duke Energy, and Duke explicitly opposes ALEC’s “Electricity Freedom Act,” the model law to repeal state Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (REPS). Duke Energy re-asserted its support for North Carolina’s REPS law to the Charlotte Business Journal last April and Progress Energy publicly supported the law before merging with Duke.

Less than a year ago Duke Energy was explicitly opposed to an ALEC RPS repeal in North Carolina. Now Duke’s NC president says they are “open to conversations” on changes to the RPS.

Duke Energy helped pass the RPS laws in North Carolina and Ohio, another state where ALEC legislators are introducing versions of the Electricity Freedom Act.

Through ALEC, Duke Can Kill Clean Energy Requirements and Get its Money back from Ratepayers:

Surviving text to the RPS law gutted by Rep. Hager’s H298 includes provisions allowing Duke Energy to charge its ratepayers to recover compliance costs from the clean energy requirements. For that text: see § 62-133.8. (H) (4) “Cost Recovery and Customer Charges”

This provision reflects a late change ALEC made to it’s model RPS repeal bill, perhaps at the request of ALEC member utilities like Duke Energy. Text added to the Electricity Freedom Act allows utilities to recover compliance costs from RPS laws after they are repealed. Compare last year’s draft version of the Electricity Freedom Act with the final version from October 2012–you’ll notice the key additions, particularly this clause:

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this Act also recognizes the prudency and reasonableness of many of the renewable contracts and investments and allows for recovery of costs where appropriate;

Not the first time ALEC legislators have attacked NC clean energy:

Sue Sturgis at the Institute for Southern Studies notes that Rep. Hager’s bill isn’t the first legislative attempt to kill North Carolina’s renewable portfolio standard. One of the co-sponsors of Hager’s bill already tried to repeal the RPS law in 2011:

Last year, Rep. George Cleveland (R-Onslow) — among the state lawmakers with ALEC ties – sponsored a bill to overturn North Carolina’s renewable energy law. It gained no co-sponsors and went nowhere, but the outcome could be different now that ALEC is getting more actively involved in the issue.

Legislators who have taken aim at clean energy incentives have been egged on by corporate interest groups, often with money trails leading back to the Koch brothers, Art Pope, and other wealthy elites. Sue Sturgis detailed how ALEC and other State Policy Network groups were gearing up to repeal the RPS before Mike Hager introduced his bill yesterday:

Last year, representatives of the groups gave presentations around the state that were critical of the state’s renewable energy standard. Among the presenters was Daren Bakst, director of legal and regulatory studies for the John Locke Foundation and a member of ALEC’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force, which crafted the model law overturning state renewable energy standards.

Joining Bakst were representatives of the American Tradition Institute (ATI), a fossil-fuel industry-funded think tank that was behind a controversial freedom of information lawsuit against the University of Virginia that sought to discredit a prominent climate scientist. ATI has also targeted state renewable energy programs.

Several years ago, the John Locke Foundation teamed up with the Beacon Hill Institute, a conservative research organization that has received support from the Koch family foundations, to release a report claiming North Carolina’s renewable energy law was having a negative economic impact.

One of the first groups we can expect to see chime in will be the Beacon Hill Institute. ALEC and other State Policy Network members have used Beacon Hill’s fundamentally flawed reports as the justification for repealing state RPS repeals in NC, KS, OH and other states. See these sources for a debunk of the Beacon Hill papers:

Beacon Hill will not be alone. We can expect continued support for the clean energy attack from Art Pope’s front groups like the John Locke Foundation and the Civitas Institute and other State Policy Network affiliates funded by Pope, the Koch brothers, and Donors Trust.

This is exactly what is happening with the Kansas clean energy standard: representatives of several State Policy Network groups including the Beacon Hill Institute, the Heartland Institute, the American Tradition Institute’s Chris Horner swarmed into Kansas to support the RPS repeal.

As the debate around Mike Hager’s bill unfolds, we’ll see who the Kochs send in to support his effort.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This article is written by Connor Gibson and is posted at http://greenpeaceblogs.org/2013/03/14/alec-bill-to-kill-nc-clean-energy-law-surfaces-koch-fronts-and-duke-energy-behind-the-curtains/
Greenpeace

Southeast leads in creating clean-energy manufacturing jobs, but will politicians kill the momentum?

Clean energy and clean transportation projects are helping drive the U.S. economic recovery, and green business is particularly booming in the Southeast.

But will politicians kill the momentum?

That’s the question raised by a report released last week by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), which found that in 2012 companies and communities nationwide announced more than 300 clean energy and clean transportation projects expected to create 110,000 jobs. E2 is a coalition of environmental-minded business leaders that’s affiliated with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

E2 map of green energy jobs createdThe Southeast led the country in manufacturing-related clean energy job announcements, E2 reported. There were more than 13,700 such jobs announced last year — about 80 percent of the nation’s total. Most of those were related to the solar, advanced vehicles and wind energy industries.

California led the nation in clean energy project announcements, followed by North Carolina and Florida. Texas was the other Southern state among the top 10.

Noting that state policies have helped drive the clean-energy industry’s growth, E2 Executive Director Judith Albert raised concerns about efforts to derail those policies.

“If lawmakers care about creating good, clean energy jobs in their neighborhoods, they should continue supporting those policies,” she said. “If not, they can sit back and watch these good-paying jobs go elsewhere.”

Albert pointed to efforts by groups and lobbyists backed by the fossil fuel industry to repeal state renewable energy portfolio standards (REPS), which require utilities to generate a certain percentage of power from clean sources.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an influential group that brings together state legislators and corporate representatives to draft model legislation promoting conservative policies, has launched an initiative to repeal REPS through its model “Electricity Freedom Act.” ALEC is working alongside other fossil fuel-funded groups including the Heartland Institute, the American Tradition Institute, Americans for Prosperity, and Americans for Tax Reform, and the Kansas REPS law was their first target.

In 2007, North Carolina became the first state in the Southeast to establish a REPS and is now one of 29 states with such laws. But state Rep. Mike Hager (R-Rutherford), chair of the House Public Utilities Committees and an ALEC member, has said he intends to introduce a bill during the legislative session now underway to repeal North Carolina’s law, which requires a modest 12.5 percent of all electricity sold in the state by 2025 to come from renewable sources.

It’s unclear how North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) would react if such a bill were to make its way to his desk. McCrory spent 28 years working for Duke Energy, which says it generally supports renewable energy standards as a way to “help our country transition to a cleaner and more sustainable energy future.” McCrory continues to hold substantial investments in the company.

McCrory has also been supportive of the wind energy industry, promoting it as part of his “all of the above” energy policy.

“There is a lot of interest in North Carolina right now for clean energy,” said E2 member John Robbins, president of Greathorn Development Corporation in Concord, N.C., which is working with airports to cuts energy costs with solar power. “For all the right reasons, clean energy is growing in North Carolina — and it’s creating jobs and boosting our economy along the way.”

(For a larger version of the map from the E2 report, click here.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This article is written by Sue Sturgis and is published at http://www.southernstudies.org/2013/03/southeast-leads-in-creating-clean-energy-manufacturing-jobs-but-will-politicians-kill-the-mo

institute for southern studies

ALEC – A Blunder Down Under – Tobacco Wars

ALEC – A Blunder Down Under – Tobacco Wars

from the archives of  2old2care at BecauseICan

 

ALEC 1975 By Laws

ARTICLE II

PURPOSES

Section 2.01 The purposes and objectives of ALEC shall be to work in cooperation will the private sector to promote individual liberty, limited government and free enterprise.

To achieve such goals ALEC shall:

1. Assist legislators in the states by sharing research information and staff support facilities:

2. Establish a clearinghouse for bills at the state level, and provide for a bill exchange program;

3. Disseminate model legislation and promote the introduction ‘of companion bills in Congress and state legislatures;

4. Improve communications between state legislators and Members of congress;

5. Formulate legislative action programs;

6. Strengthen the position of state and local government relative to the federal governments; and

7. Develop liaison with legislators in other countries on problems of mutual Concern.

Nothing there about international stuff..

 

2010 ALEC Audited Financials

1.  Organization and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies

Organization

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a non-profit educational entity incorporated in December 1975, under the laws of the States of Illinois.  Its mission is to assist State Legislators, Members of Congress, and the general and business public by sharing research and educational information.  These activities are funded primarily through sponsorships and contributions from the private sector and membership dues.

Nothing there about international stuff..

 

From the cover of the ALEC 2011 report – The State Legislators Guide to Repealing ObamaCare

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is the nation’s largest nonpartisan individual membership association of state legislators, with nearly 2,000 members across the nation and more than 100 alumni members in Congress. ALEC’s mission is to promote free markets, limited government, individual liberty, and federalism through its model legislation in the states.

Nothing there about international stuff..

 

2012 Mission Statement

Mission Statement

The American Legislative Exchange Council’s mission is…

To advance the Jeffersonian Principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty through a nonpartisan public-private partnership among America’s state legislators, concerned members of the private sector, the federal government, and the general public.

To promote these principles by developing policies that ensure the powers of government are derived from, and assigned to, first the People, then the States, and finally the Federal Government.

To enlist state legislators from all parties and members of the private sector who share ALEC’s mission.

To conduct a policy making program that unites members of the public and private sector in a dynamic partnership to support research, policy development, and dissemination activities.

To prepare the next generation of political leadership through educational programs that promote the principles of Jeffersonian democracy, which are necessary for a free society.

Nothing there about international stuff..
Enough – enough.
Nothing there about international stuff – you get it.
Just had to make my point

I never know where I am going to end up when I start researching – today it was five hours of work and a mini-thesis.  But that’s what the universe gave me today.

So grab a cup of coffee – if you are so disposed and read a lot about a little story down under.

 

Today while doing research on something else I ran into the American Legislative Exchange Council and Australia – again  – and that meant it was time to write about it.

This is a two year saga – 2010 and 2011

Yep – Australia.

ALEC’s “newly-formed International Relations Task Force” came about “just in time” to interfere with Australia’s plain packaging of tobacco products..

In 2010 Australia was considering the

Plain Tobacco Packaging (Removing Branding from Cigarette Packs) Bill – Bill 2009, which is currently pending before the Community Affairs Legislation Committee.

In 2010 Australia was exploring the possible legislation that would introduce plain packaging:

What is plain packaging?

Plain packaging, also known as generic, standardized or homogeneous packaging, refers to packaging that has had the attractive promotional aspects of tobacco product packaging removed and the appearance of all tobacco packs is standardized. Except for the brand name (which would be required to be written in a standard typeface, color and size), all other trademarks, logos, color schemes and graphics would be prohibited. The package itself would be required to be plain colored (such as white or brown) and to display only the product content information, consumer information and health warnings required by law.

 what plain packaging of cigarettes looks like

What plain packaging looks like.

The report I read went on to say that:

The current position Plain packaging has not yet been put into effect in any jurisdiction, although it was first proposed by the Canadian government in the 1990s. Legislation is currently being considered by the Australian Government for introduction in 2012 and other governments, such as New Zealand, have expressed an interest in introducing a similar ban. In the UK, the Government’s tobacco control plan2, published in March 2011, included a commitment to consult on plain packaging during 2011, to determine “whether the plain packaging of tobacco products could be effective in reducing the number of young people who take up smoking and in supporting adult smokers who want to quit”. Plain packaging has been supported by the (former) Chief Medical Officer and many other experts and international bodies. The European Commission is exploring the merits of introducing plain packaging as an amendment to the Tobacco Products Directive.

Similar legislation has been or will be considered in/by Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, European Commission  …  Also Belgium, Turkey and France from another study

BUT – NOT in the US.

Haven’t heard about pending legislation in the US have you????

Why – because this is where ALEC lives and works behind the scenes and out of the eye of the general public.

As a matter of fact in the August 5, 2010 minutes of the the ALEC International Relations Task Force found on the Common Cause webpage you will find this legislation proposed – look at the submission person!

Resolution Urging Congress to Pass a Ban on “Plain Packaging”

          Submitted by: Ms. Brandie Davis (Philip Morris International). 

AND – they had the chutzpah to send the version “subsequently approved by the Board of Directors”  to the Australian government and the final title?

Resolution Urging the Obama Administration to Protect
Intellectual Property Rights and Oppose Plain Packaging
Initiative Proposed by Trading Partners Worldwide.

 

A little history – this is not the first time ALEC has been involved in tobacco wars.  They are/were a major mover and shaker for the tobacco industry, since the mid 1990’s with the tobacco settlements and on to today.

Why was ALEC messing around in Australia?

2010

In February 2010 – then national Chair – Tom Craddick  wrote a letter on ALEC letterhead to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs – Parliament House – Canberra ACT 2600 Australia [sic]

I am using this letter for snips – because when compared to another ALEC letter written a year later  – this one is more true to the ALEC agenda – whereas the 2011 letter is much more cautious in the way that they word the letter.

This is a significant loss to our private sector members who hold IP rights that are significant assets for their companies. Their logos allow consumers to differentiate between their products and materially inferior ones, and their trademarks protect the reputation of their products. Because of the importance of the trademark in doing business, the protection of the IP rights of our private sector members is a priority for us, and our newly-formed International Relations Task Force committed early on to working on this issue at the international level.

Oh – significant loss to ALEC private/profit sector members.

Protection of the rights of ALEC private/profit  sector members

 

BUT – according to another Australian report Craddick’s whining about IP right for ALEC private sector members is unfounded:

As explained at the seminar and expanded on in an article in the Australian Intellectual Property Law Bulletin, governments are permitted to amend their intellectual property laws to protect public health. Plain packaging does not equate to acquiring the intellectual property of tobacco companies. Governments do not intend to use the logos and tobacco companies will still maintain full rights to their logos and brand imagery; they will simply no longer be able to use these marketing tools on cigarette packages.

So – evidently – ALEC is just making sure they are there for their private/profit sector members – whether they need to be or not.
Back to Craddick

There is no meaningful evidence that plain packaging leads to a reduction in the initiation of tobacco use, overall tobacco consumption or quitting relapses. This conclusion is supported by a series of studies conducted by Dr. Jorge Padilla and Dr. Nadine Watson, “A Critical Review of the Literature on Generic Packaging for Cigarettes” (November 18, 2008). There is, however, evidence suggesting that Bill 2009 could lead to an increase in tobacco use.

“an increase in tobacco use”

But wouldn’t that be a good thing for ALEC’s profit sector members?

Wouldn’t it?

Nope, cause here’s ALEC’s concern:

The brown matte packaging and standard typeface mandated in this bill, would likely occasion an uptick in counterfeit cigarettes, as it is easier to manufacture “plain-packaged” products.

Counterfeit cigarettes?

Does that mean that someone would produce a cigarette that is not a cigarette and sell it as a cigarette?

Fake cigarette – filled with what – oregano?  I think people would figure it out and not buy that brand again.

Counterfeit – isn’t that just an imitation – isn’t that just a new brand – wouldn’t that the  infamous ALEC  free market at work?

 

Is Craddick suggesting  that the Australian government is so dumb it would not be able to regulate their own cigarette industry?   In Australia – counterfeit cigarettes are referred to as “illicit tobacco products” and as you can see , we’re not talking a huge loss of market here:

the Government’s National Drug Strategy Household Survey in 2007[136] found that only 0.2% of Australians — that equates to 1.2% of current smokers—used illicit tobacco products half the time or more. Even allowing for illicit users smoking somewhat more than average, this would make illicit tobacco about 2–3% of the total market—

So, ALEC is just making sure they are there for their private/profit sector members – whether they need to be or not.
But then 2- 3 % loss of revenues by ALEC profit/private sector members might lead to a reduction in “sponsorships and contributions from the private sector and membership dues” for ALEC.

Nope not really.  Here’s the issue – Back to Craddick

The competition from contraband cigarette companies as well as an inability to differentiate their products from others on the market will force legitimate tobacco companies to lower their prices.

Oh, yeh – PROFIT.  After all ALEC is commenting on behalf of their profit sector members.  That is the ONLY reason they are making a case before the Australian government is on behalf of their profit sector members.

BUT again – other sources note there is no proof to support this

This would occur due to reduced product differentiation and the entry of unbranded products. The Europe Economics study by contrast predicted that prices would fall only for premium brands, with growing and niche brands likely to be hit the hardest. Little information is available internationally about what happens to consumption of tobacco products when prices fall. This has been a rare occurrence over the past four decades.

Again, ALEC is just making sure they are there for their private/profit sector members – whether they need to be or not.


2011

MAY 2011  ( I tried – but I can’t find the actual report released in Australia – but, I did find a one page article in the May 2011 issue of Inside ALEC that has the exact phrases shown in the article below.  “Plain Packaging: A Government Seizure of a Company’s Most Valuable Asset”)

From: The Australian May 28, 2011

This week a US think tank, the American Legislative Exchange Council, published a paper claiming the move “threatens to dismantle over a century of international intellectual property rights protections”. It raises the spectre of counterfeiting and piracy.

“Although this ill-considered legislation targets tobacco packaging, the alarm over the policy relates to the effects it will have on international intellectual property rights and protections,” the paper reads. “Australia’s plain packaging policy will send the wrong message to the developing world where IP co-operation is already difficult to obtain.”

 

JUNE

In June 2011 a letter was sent by the past ALEC chair Noble Ellington to Assistant Secretary, Drug Strategy Branch – Attention: Tobacco Reform Section – Department of Health and Ageing – Canberra, ACT 2606 Australia opposing “Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill 2011”

This letter by Ellington sounds less like a lobbying letter and nowhere does he use the phrases that were found in the Craddick letter.  The language is more sterile – ambiguous about intent while being direct in content.

It is possible that after a year of feedback – they realized people were not reacting well to ALEC’s interference in Australia .  But he still does spend a lot of time on the hysteria of IP and trademark protection – which they probably have found is the only thing that they can write about.


But wouldn’t what Craddick proposed in his ALEC letter  be lobbying?

Well Craddick says in the opening sentence that:

On behalf of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), I respectfully submit these comments

Oh, yeh – comments.  Respectfully submitted comments – that’s not lobbying, right?

But the closing paragraph Craddick says this:

While ALEC understands the motivations behind the Plain Tobacco Packaging (Removing Branding from Cigarette Packs) Bill, we believe that it will undermine the international system of intellectual property rights protections setting in motion a precedent that could ultimately devitalize the free market system while aggravating the very problem it purports to address.

Which seems to fit Australian law regarding the definition of lobbyist:

Lobbying activities means communications in an effort to influence Government decision-making.

 

That is what this seems like to me – lobbying.  BUT

Oh, yeh –

ALEC is a U.S. nonprofit and nonprofits in Australia are “not considered a lobbyist under the Lobbying Code and are not required to register” [as lobbyists]

Or they could be viewed as a “Members of foreign trade delegations” which also aren’t considered lobbyists in Australia.

And ALEC has members in Australia.

 

So folks, the moral of the story –

ALEC’s stated mission might be to:

  • promote free markets, ALEC letterhead
  • limited government,
  • individual liberty,
  • and federalism through its model legislation in the states.


But it appears their real mission is promoting ALEC private sector member PROFITS.

And the rest of the world doesn’t like ALEC “butting” into international affairs– as demonstrated by a letter sent by the Physicians for a Smoke-free Canada to the Assistant Secretary, Drug Strategy Branch – Attention: Tobacco Reform Section – Department of Health and Ageing – CANBERRA, ACT 2601

You may also find it helpful to regard with healthy suspicion lobbying opposed to the plain packaging initiative from sources apparently independent of the tobacco industry. Frequently, such sources are not independent at all, but avatars of the tobacco industry. Here is an example. It was reported in The Australian of May 28, 2011 that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) “threatens to dismantle over a century of international intellectual property rights protections.” ALEC arguments have no basis in fact. Moreover, ALEC is not very far removed from the tobacco industry. Representatives of two American tobacco companies are members of its Private Enterprise Board of Directors.

And yes, Australia doesn’t appreciate the interference of ALEC in their politics.

And at least one Australian legislator, Christine Milne was willing to speak out before the bill passed!

I think that it is much more interesting to look at the wholesale adoption by Senator Bernardi of the policy agenda of the extreme US radical Right and the policies that he brings to the coalition in Australia.

Disgraced Liam Fox was a former minister in the UK who was forced to resign because of his association with a Mr Werritty. Mr Werritty was one member of the American Legislative Exchange Council. It is fascinating to see that the Australian representative of the American Legislative Exchange Council is none other than Senator Bernardi. The American Legislative Exchange Council is backed by big oil, big tobacco, the National Rifle Association, the climate change deniers and the defence hawks in the US.

I note with interest than on 2 June this year the American Legislative Exchange Council wrote to the Department of Health and Ageing opposing plain packaging and making a strong case, on behalf of big tobacco, against plain packaging. Among the people they copied it to was none other Senator Bernardi, their Australian representative. You have to wonder about the extent to which Senator Bernardi has adopted their agenda and, indeed, the agenda of another US right-wing radical organisation, none other than the Heartland Institute. We recall that Senator Fielding went across to the US at the expense of the Heartland Institute and came back and told us that global warming was not real and was to do with solar flares et cetera.

And yes – if you prefer hearing it – she is still speaking out about ALEC.  Australia doesn’t appreciate the interference of ALEC in their politics.
Please click here to see Australian Senator Christine Milne on the Climate Denial Machine.

Oh yeh – the continuing saga of the ALEC plain packaging story:

November 2011

Parliament Passes World First Plain Packaging of Tobacco Legislation

The Australian Parliament has passed the Australian Government’s world-leading tobacco plain packaging legislation, meaning all tobacco products sold in Australia will need to be in plain packaging from 1 December 2012.

November 2011

Cigarette giant Philip Morris sues Australian government for billions over plain packaging law

The Australian government is facing a lawsuit that could cost billions after tobacco giant Philip Morris instigated legal action over the incoming law forcing cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging.

The controversial law, which comes into effect from late next year, is being closely watched by other governments in Europe, Canada and New Zealand as they consider similar moves.

But the legislation change has angered tobacco firms who are worried that it may set a global precedent and by infringing on trademark rights as all images and logos are wiped off the packets.

April 2012

Australia tobacco plain packaging case in court

The world’s biggest tobacco firms are challenging the Australian government in court over a law on mandatory plain packaging for cigarettes.   The suit, led by British American Tobacco, is being watched around the world as a test case.

Australia last year passed legislation requiring all tobacco to be sold in plain packets with graphic health warnings from 1 December 2012.

It is the first country to pass such stringent packaging legislation.

The proceedings, being heard before the High Court in Canberra, are scheduled to run until Thursday. It is not clear when a decision might be reached.

And I’m sure the American Legislative Exchange Council will find a way to stick their nose into Australia’s business again and probably file an amicus brief in the lawsuit.

UPDATE – August 15, 2012

By ROD McGUIRK

updated 8/15/2012 12:22:56 AM ET

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia‘s highest court upheld the world’s toughest law on cigarette promotion on Wednesday despite protests from tobacco companies that argued the value of their trademarks will be destroyed under new rules that will strip all logos from cigarette packs.

The decision by the High Court means that starting in December, tobacco companies will no longer be able to display their distinctive colors, brand designs and logos on cigarette packs.

 

Posted by 2old2care
on June 23, 2012becauseican-vltp

 

An ALEC Sham – The International Task Force

by 2old2care


For a couple of entries coming up – I am going to be taking snips from an excellent piece of investigative journalism written by Bob Sloan, the Executive Director of the Voter Legislative Transparency Project (VLTP).

I’m going to do this in multiple entries – using snips – ’cause I am a “blogger” with ADD, with the attention span for research and writing of about that of a flea
(let’s jump around and do this – or this, no this, maybe this, or this …).


ALEC-New Partnerships and Exposing Hidden Foreign Influences

Before we consider what the impact of a joint Republican Study Committee/ ALEC/Heritage Foundationpartnership against federal controls would have upon the U.S., we should first look at current ALEC activities along these lines involving memberships held by foreign representatives. Together ALEC’s state lawmakers work hand in hand with several influential foreign elected officials to establish US state and foreign policies and pass laws suggested by those representing foreign powers…

“Together ALEC’s state lawmakers work hand in hand with several influential foreign elected officials”?

Are you kidding me – state legislators from ho-bunk towns in the United States making “international” resolutions.

You have got to be kidding me!

Like America is suppose to believe that ALEC state legislators have the experience in foreign affairs necessary to be working on an “international” task force.  Get real!!!
Most of them haven’t even been out of state – except to go to an ALEC meeting – for free – on a corporate ALEC scholarship.

For example, take Mary Kiffmeyer – from Minnesota – our ALEC State Chair who is on the International and Federal Relations Task Force.

The oldest of 14 children, Kiffmeyer was raised in Pierz, Minnesota.
The population was 1,393 at the 2010 census.[6]

Kiffmeyer lives near Big Lake, Minnesota.
Big Lake   …   population was 10,060 at the 2010 census.

Oh – yeah – this is someone I want interfering in foreign affairs on the ALEC International Relations Task Force.

These state bumpkins and their insistence in interfering with Foreign/ International Relations will probably set world governments and US foreign relations back 100 years.  God only knows what they are doing behind the closed doors of the secretive meetings of the ALEC International and Federal Relations Task Force.

God help us and the world!!!!!


Concerns about foreign money and influence finding their way into our electoral process because of the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision – are now bolstered by the discovery that foreign nations are already taking part in establishing U.S. policies related to voting and foreign matters – through ALEC.

And this paragraph is NOT a push, ALEC Resolution in Support of the Citizens United Decision

Summary:

This Resolution emphasizes the importance of first amendment protections of corporations’, non-profit advocacy groups’, and labor organizations’ speech. The resolution warns that mandatory disclosure and disclaimer requirements, particularly relating to an organization’s sour source of funding, can be intimidating to  such organizations and inhibit free speech.

Resolution

WHEREAS, the January 2010 Supreme Court decision in  Citizens United v. Federal  Election Commission  restored and affirmed the First Amendment rights of  corporations, labor organizations, and nonprofit advocacy groups to engage in  political speech in campaigns; and

SNIP

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED  that the American Legislative Exchange Council  (ALEC) opposes efforts that are outlined above at the federal, state, and local level  to undermine the Supreme Court’s decision in  Citizens United v. Federal Election  Commission  .

Adopted by the Public Safety and Elections Task Force at the Annual Meeting, August 7, 2010. Approved by the ALEC Board of Directors, September 19, 2010


“foreign nations are already taking part in establishing U.S. policies related to voting and foreign matters – through ALEC.”

One major difference which ALEC has attempted to bury deeply and not disclose is the involvement of foreign nationals holding elected offices in their governments who also hold full ALEC membership(s) – including the right to a vote [on ALEC “model legislation”].

These [foreign national] individuals help develop US policies, write ALEC resolutions and proposed model bills to be implemented in the United States – and internationally.  They [foreign nationals] cast votes alongside corporate reps and lobbyists and conservative state lawmakers on US state and federal model legislation, formulate resolutions sent out to the President, Congressional members and foreign governments.  These foreign officials then return to their government posts and lobby on behalf of the same initiatives they helped develop for the US – initiatives being lobbied for by ALEC to their [foreign national] governments using the same resolutions, models or policy demands.
foreign participation in developing US laws and policies

in relation to our state AND national government – BECAUSE –  the “ALEC International Task Force” is part of the ALEC “Federalism Task Force”

Which is part of ALEC’s “Federal Forum” program, which focuses on:

“Bringing state legislative leaders into contact with ALEC’s alumni  members in Congress is the cornerstone of the Federal Forum and  is instrumental in maintaining the principles of limited government,  individual liberty, and free markets. Through this relationship, ALEC hopes  to provide its 96 alumni members with information and testimonial support  from the states on pressing policy issues.”

foreign participation in developing US laws and policies –

At last count, ALEC documents list at least nine governments represented by seventeen publicly elected foreign officials sitting on ALEC’s International Relations task force – with full membership and voting rights.

And that’s where we will go next in this series

International Relations Task Force Co-Chairs (as of 11/2011)

Harold Brubaker (since replaced upon his retirement from the NC General Assembly by Tim Moffitt, also from North Carolina); and

Brandie Davis – Lobbyist for PMI Global (Philip Morris International)

16. Specific lobbying issues

World Trade Organization obligation issues.

Pending U.S. Trade Agreement Initiatives.

S 3240: Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012; proposed amendment relating to trade negotiations.

ALEC International Relations Task Force Co Chairs,
A state legislator and a lobbyist.
How fitting!!!!

 
AND

American Legislative Exchange Council International Relations Task Force [As of 6/30/2011]

Richard Ashworth
Member
Member European Parliament [MEP] 5 Hazelgrove Road
West Sussex RH16 3PH

Cory Bernardi
Member
Senator, Australian Senate
Level 13
100 King William Street
Adelaide, S.A. 5000

Adam Bielan
Member
MEP
UL CHODUIE WI CZA 2/7
Warsaw, Poland 02-593

Martin Callanan
Member
Member of the European Conservatives & Reformists Group
European Parliament
105 Kells Lane
Gateshead, UK NE95XY

Philip Claeys
Member
MEP
Kruiskruidlaan 11
Belgium 3090

Niranjan Deva
Member
MEP
Bat. Altiero Spinneli 14E130
60 Rue Wiertz/Wiertzstaat 60
Belgium B-1047

Christopher Fjellner
Member
MEP
14 Rue Wiertz
ASP 13E116
Brussels, Belgium B-1047

Liam Fox
Member
Member British Parliament, House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
UNITED KINGDOM

Daniel Hannan
Member
MEP
60 Rue Wiertz
Brussels 1047
BELGIUM

Chris Heaton-HarrisMember
MEP
1.40E+158
60 Rue Wiertz
Brux, Belgium B-1047

Roger Helmer
Member
MEP
ASP 14E 242
60 Rue Wiertz
Brussels, Belgium B-1047

Ayesha Javed
Member
Assemblywoman, Punjab Provincial Assembly
Provincial Assembly of the Punjab
The Mall Road
Lahore, Punjab 54000

Syed Kamall
Member
MEP
60 Rue Wiertz (14 E116)
Brussels, Belgium B-1047

Michal Kaminski
Member
Chairman of the European Conservatives & Reformists Group
European Parliament
ASP BE130, European Parliament
Rue Wiertz
Brussels, Belgium B-1047

Mirostaw Piotrowski
Member
MEP
UL Zaua 39
Lublin, PO Box 20-601
Poland

Ivo Strejcek
Member
MEP
Vintrnt 105212
Zdar Nad Sazavon
Czech Republic 59101

Konrad Szymanski
Member
MEP
Joliot-Curie
26 M.6
Warsaw, Poland 02-646

AND

Reem Badran
Member of Parliament from Jordan, and ALEC’s newest International Legislator Member. (Page 26 • Inside ALEC | October 2012)

Written by 2old2care

because I can logo
cropped-bannerformat1.jpg

 

Michigan Firefighters Under Attack

FLINT FIREFIGHTERS JUST CAN’T CATCH A BREAK

One could say the name Flint, Michigan is apt when it comes to sparking fires — real and political. The city has suffered a rash of troubling arsons over the past few yeFlint Michigan arsonars, some of which have been partially resolved with the arrest and plea deal of a gang of arsonists responsible for up to 100 fires. The city’s east side alone suffered a whopping 145 intentionally set blazes in 2010, accounting for 30 percent of Flint’s 486 known arsons that year.

Indeed, Flint is a city on fire, and under siege….

The fiscally challenged municipality is under assault from the State of Michigan when it assigned an Emergency Manager to run its government — usurping elected leaders, thereby suspending democratic rule and rendering elections meaningless. Under emergency management the city has suffered terribly through brutal cut-back management practices that have decimated public sector services.

Already the most violent city in the nation, Flint also takes the honor of being the arson capitol of the country according to the FBI — with its record number of self-immolations earning it that dubious title. The firefighting costs there are astronomical. Businesses are frantically attempting to protect themselves through enhanced alarm systems.

Private security firms refuse to pay-up for false alarms

Privately-owned security  companies frequently act as the conduit for public protection of a business community — be it fire or police response, they expedite the automated 911 request. Skittish Flint businesses are arming themselves with hair-trigger alarms through these private contractors, whose state-of-the-art systems are generating numerous and costly false alarms. In the last five months of 2012, the city responded to hundreds of false alarms, resulting in 1600 invoices for a $134,000 total, at $79 per response — expenses the beleaguered city cannot bear, yet they are not being reimbursed by the business community.

Traditionally, individual businesses are directly billed by the city for a false call, but Flint opted to run the billing liability through the security companies themselves — a controversial move. Those corporations should have contracts that pass along false alarm fees to the contracting company, where applicable. But it seems, few of them wish to tack-on the cost of false alarms to client invoices. They’re counting on the problem just going away — and are simply not paying what’s owed the city.

As if the lack of support among the business community wasn’t enough, Flint firefighters are also under political attack.

Mackinac Center doesn’t want firefighters to receive incentives to live in Flint city limits

The Flint housing market has been hammered by an economic downturn for flint michigan real estatemany decades prior to the national economic bubble collapse. Many neighborhoods are largely empty, and vacant homes invite crime. The Genesee County Land Bank is responding by developing a program that would give a 30 percent discount on foreclosed homes to firefighters and police officers willing to move into the city. The homes have been rehabilitated through grants from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

This would raise occupancy and make the neighborhoods safer through the presence of police and firefighters. Fire response time is another attractive factor.

It’s a win-win. Who wouldn’t agree?

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is throwing water on the plan claiming that granting Flint firefighters and police officers a discount is “preferential treatment” that is not fair because private businesses can’t get in on the action for their employees. (Private businesses with a costly unpaid false alarm flint michigan firefightersaddiction). Mackinac Center goes on to outrageously claim that Flint and Detroit firefighters are already over-compensated and, here’s the kicker…they are placing direct blame for Flint’s fiscal crisis on the firefighters. Read their over-the-top screed here.

We certainly agree that public sector legacy costs are problematic for all municipalities during stressful economic times…BUT, to blame Flint firefighters for the problems of that city is beyond the height of hubris — it’s reprehensible.

Amy Kerr Hardin from Democracy Tree

democracy tree logo

ALEC and the Tories: A History (Part 1) – ALEC in Great Britain

ALEC and the Tories: A History (Part 1) – ALEC in Great Britain

flag of great britain

In my previous article I introduced the European members of ALEC the majority of whom come from the British Conservative Party, the ‘Tories‘ (from the Irish which roughly translates to ‘thieving bastards’).

This link between US and UK right wing lobbyists actually stretches back Institute of Economic Affairs - IEAdecades and indeed some groups in the US only exist to help fund UK lobbyists, an example being the American Friends of the IEA. The IEA, Institute for Economic Affairs, was founded in the 1950’s and, although I dislike quoting from Wikipedia,  their entry on its founder is particularly succinct:

Sir Antony Fisher (28 June 1915 – 8 July 1988) was a background player in the global rise of libertarian think-tanks during the second half of the twentieth century, founding the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Through Atlas, he helped establish up to 150 other think-tanks worldwide.

His successors seem to have carried on the family tradition and indeed have a direct line to the office of the UK’s Tory Prime Minster!

He was father to Linda Whetstone, who has been involved with many of Fisher’s think tanks, and grandfather to Rachel Whetstone, formerly Political Secretary to Conservative leader Michael Howard, now global head of communications and public policy for Google, who is married to David Cameron’s [former?] Director of Strategy Steve Hilton.

In looking at the specific ALEC links with UK Tories I will present a chronological timeline stretching back around a decade. Due to the amount of information presented comment has been kept to a minimum.

Note: many historical links may not work but are provided for information; the data has been extracted from local copies we hold.


2002 – International Freedom Exchange

ALEC is also working to promote closer working relations between America’s International Freedom Exchange (IFEX)state political leaders and their foreign counterparts. The underlying purpose is to build a better understanding of America’s political process and maintain an ongoing dialogue of how free-market societies are prepared to meet future challenges and the emerging global economy.

In 2002, ALEC staff held discussions with several international delegations, including British Members of the European Parliament, regional leaders of the Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic, and representatives of the Kosovar Parliament. More recently, ALEC’s Michael Flynn held a briefing at an international conference on federalism sponsored by the German think tank, Friedrich Naumann. Future ALEC activities aim to bring emerging political leaders from other countries into this international freedom exchange.

In 2003, a delegation of European Members of Parliament will be meeting with American state lawmakers at ALEC’s Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

 

2004 – Senator William G. Hewes III, ALEC National Chairman

Just as the White House and Congress gear up for their new electoral cycles, Europe is also at the start of a new 5 year phase. The new enlarged European Parliament is just finding its feet following June’s Europe-wide elections and she has already shown signs that she will fully flex her institutional muscles when needed. Soon the new European Commission of 25 will also take up a fresh term, with a new set of priorities and challenges.

One of the biggest challenges facing Europe is surely its very direction. The new Constitutional Treaty currently undergoing ratification in Member States is by no means a shoe-in and the EU will spend much of the next 18 months trying to establish its exact place on the world stage. Perhaps this is why EU-US relations have become schizophrenic of late. At times Europe and America have acted in complete harmony and presented a united front; At other times, our relationship has been overtly fractious. That is where legislators have a key role to play – in bringing forward a relationship based on co-operation and trust.

ALEC’s EU project is now well under way and we’ve found friends in the conservative delegations of Britain, Hungary and the Czech Republic. We hope to extend this further and establish an on-going dialogue with conservatives across the European Union.

Indeed, the new European Commission is also showing very welcome signs european commissionof pragmatism and collaboration. The EU’s incoming Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, says she wants a determined and decisive multilateral effort to fight international terrorism. She has also stressed that the EU must now show support for the broader political process in Iraq. This common-sense approach to the international scene is to be welcomed as a positive sign of things to come.

ALEC will welcome three MEPs to its States and Nations Policy Summit in Washington D.C. this December to discuss the latest aspects of the transatlantic relationship. We also hope to build a firm bridge across the Atlantic for our shared conservative ideas and I know that everyone at ALEC will do their best to welcome our European guests.


Note this phrase
: ‘a firm bridge across the Atlantic’.  In a future article the ‘Atlantic bridge’ will be discussed further.

 

Speech by Chris Heaton-Harris MEP – 2004 States and Nation Policy Summit,  Washington, D.C.

Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 Before I start may I just say thank you to ALEC for inviting me to this excellent conference. It is a great privilege for me to be here with my colleagues from the European Parliament: Martin Callanan, who, alas, returned to the UK last night and Roger Helmer, who I know many of you have met and listened to.

I am Chris Heaton-Harris and all three of us were re-elected for our second five year terms to the European Parliament back in June.

The European Parliament has 724 members from 25 countries representing 450m people and using 20 official languages. As you can imagine, it is a very complicated place….

…Now, I can’t claim to be an ALEC member or alumni; in fact it was only a http://na-saighneain.com/alec_uk.jpgcouple of years ago that I was introduced to this organisation and Jeffersonian principles. In the UK I’m pretty well known for my Conservative views – it seems to me that no matter where you are true Conservative will always stand for the same things:

  • To limit government
  • For lower taxes
  • For free trade and open markets
  • Individual freedom
  • Showing respect and taking personal responsibility.

 But I didn’t know these core values as Jeffersonian principles – to me these were Thatcherisms…

…And there’s worse yet to come… many of you will have heard of the European Constitution – and just by its name you might think, well this is a good thing.

But whereas your Constitution is a truly enduring historical document based on life, liberty and limiting government; ours is a socialist manifesto.

 Let me list some things it calls “fundamental rights”:

  • The freedom to form trade unions.
  • The right to collective bargaining and action.
  • The freedom to choose an occupation. (I want to be an astronaut and I’ll sue you if you don’t let me be one!)
  • The right to have fair and just working conditions.
  • The right to reconcile family and professional life.

And these rights will all be interpreted by our version of your Supreme Court – the EU’s Court of Justice….

But why should you all care about what’s happening over in Europe?   Surely, if Europe’s economy goes downhill it won’t effect America.

Well do remember that the EU is one of the biggest markets for American produced goods.

And also remember what Ronald Reagan once said in one of his radio commentaries back in the 70’s:   “we should always be wary and watch out for government’s communications grapevine. When one set of jungle drums is pounded by a group of bureaucrats” he said “another group of bureaucrats will be listening.”

That’s how regulation spreads: from you to us, like smoking bans, or from us to you! And trust me – those jungle drums are beating hard and fast in Europe.

To me the solution to all these problems I’ve outlined seems obvious – Europe needs Jeffersonian principles/Thatcherisms.

In fact we must really start by helping Europe’s Conservatives remember what being a Conservative is all about – and to do that I believe we need a role model.

And actually I think we have a ready-made role model here today in ALEC and all of you.

 You understand what Jeffersonian principles are all about and you deliver policy that makes them work and improves peoples’ lives.

 But alas, in Europe, we have no organisation like ALEC – and we really need one.

 That is why I am so glad you have started your international program – that will help us true believers out there fight the good fight.

 Over the past couple of years it has been really tough being a Conservative in Europe.   Coming here this week has been like taking a bottle of political Viagra – I feel completely re-energised!

 So I’d like to thank you all – for your friendship, your hospitality and your inspiration…

 

Roger Helmer – Speech to American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) –  Washington DC – December 1, 2004

 

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As always, it’s a huge pleasure for me, and my colleagues Chris Heaton-Harris and Martin Callanan, to be here with you at another ALEC Conference. I’d like especially to thank Duane Parde, and his fellow officers at ALEC, for the invitation, and I’d also like to thank ALEC staffer Sally McNamara for organising our programme. Sally previously spent five years working for Chris Heaton-Harris and me in the UK and Brussels, before coming to Washington.

In a world where globalisation is accelerating, and where we all face the common threat of terrorism, I believe that the transatlantic relationship, which has underpinned our security for all of my life-time, is becoming more, not less, important. I very much regret the apparent lack of commitment to this relationship from Brussels, with its constant sniping and posturing on transatlantic trade and security issues.

In these circumstances, it is crucial to maintain and strengthen links between conservative politicians and thinkers on both sides of the water. I believe that ALEC has a vital role to play in this dialogue, and this is why it is such a great pleasure, and privilege, for me and my colleagues to be here with you today….

…While we enjoy coming to Washington, we also do our best to maintain transatlantic relations in Brussels, and we always look forward to events organised by the American Chamber, which has a high reputation over there. Indeed I sometimes think they know more about what’s going on in the EU institutions than we do!

On Nov 17th we were guests at the American Chamber dinner in Strasbourg, where David Cote, the CEO of Honeywell, was the keynote speaker. I met a charming, tall, elderly Polish MEP, whom I had better not name…

…It is easy to ridicule, but dangerous to ignore the threat. There is a world of difference between the EU we have today, and the EU of the Constitution. Today, at least in theory, the EU is a Treaty-based organisation linking independent, democratic sovereign nations. Under the Constitution, it becomes for all practical purposes a country in its own right, with its own legal personality.

What do you call an organisation that has, or is putting in place, a Constitution, a currency, a central bank, a supreme court, a President, a Foreign Minister, an elected parliament, common external borders and tariffs, border guards, an army — not to mention a passport, a flag and an anthem?

Ladies and gentlemen, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck ….. !

And in that new country called Europe, the ancient nations of our continent will be little more than provinces.

Does this matter to America? You bet it does! Too many of the Chancelleries of Europe are animated by an endemic Anti-Americanism, heightened recently by the Iraq war. They speak of a euro currency, and EU armed forces, to “counter-balance US dominance”. They are developing their own Global Positioning System, Galileo, not because they need it — you make your own system available free of charge — but to assert their growing confidence as a global power. In doing so, they threaten the strategic balance, and the vital transatlantic flow of military and security intelligence.

My advice, which I have offered whenever I have been this side of the water, is that the US should know its friends in Europe, and work with them country-by-country, rather than seeking to deal with the EU as a single entity. I am delighted to see that this view is catching on in Washington, and I particularly commend the Heritage Foundation briefing paper of October 2004 by John C. Hulsman and Nile Gardiner, entitled “A Conservative Vision for US Policy Toward Europe”, which takes exactly this position.

I and my colleagues are convinced that the EU Constitution is a profound threat to the prosperity, the democracy and increasingly to the security of our country. But we also to believe that an assertive, unified, Constitution-based EU is not in America’s best interest either.

Our great task for the next couple of years is to campaign in the UK against ratification of the EU Constitution. We think we can win this battle, and we would be hugely encouraged to have your moral support in our campaign. Thank you.

( Roger Helmer article for ALEC, September 2004)
helmer - 2004

from the aforementioned Martin Callanan, an article for ALEC, November 2004
callanan - 2004

 2004- 2005 Articles, Publications and Newsa list of ALEC articles from 2004 and early 2005

Having been recently appointed ALEC National Chairman, I am delighted to see our international relations project now moving full steam ahead. I have asked my immediate predecessor as National Chairman, Senator Billy Hewes, to Chair the ALEC Board of Director’s Committee on International Relations, while Ken Lane of DIAGEO will co-chair in a private sector capacity. These gentlemen enjoy my full support, and I believe that we have a strong a team to lead from the front & move forward with our international coalition-building.

Anyone who attended our States and Nation Policy Summit in Washington this month knows just how important it is to have friends across the Atlantic. Chris Heaton-Harris MEP delivered a remarkable speech, which directly addressed our principles. He asked for our help and mutual support – and ALEC is delighted to offer it. Not least because the threats posed by the European Constitution can easily be transported over here – the threats to free trade, free markets and individual liberty.

These debates about the future of Europe & its international status are increasingly relevant to America and to our companies who operate inside the EU. That is why I am so happy to see ALEC taking the lead in shaping the policy debate for the future of transatlantic relations.

 


LA State Senator Noble Ellington, ALEC Board of Directors

Think tanks have become somewhat part of the establishment in Washington. In fact, it would be fair to say that there’s a healthy amount of competition among DC’s thinkers; competition for the best people, for the best promotional tools and for the best access to the Nation’s policy makers. And there is little doubt in the conservative movement that this has been a good thing – that new think tanks have increased the strength of existing think tanks, attracting new activists and advancing “the movement”.

But what about Europe? Brussels has previously been marked by its very lack of free market think tanks, and its proliferation of EU funded “groups”. It is a fact that virtually all government funds which flow into lobbying/pressure groups go to leftist organizations. This fact underlies the damaging economic road the EU has chosen to go down in recent years, spurred by its “consultations” with these elite, quasi-independent interest groups.

But it seems that the conservatives are fighting back. On my recent trip to Brussels with ALEC, I attended a conference entitled Does the West Know Best, organized by The Stockholm Network. SN is a network of 120 market-oriented think tanks, working with Europe’s brightest policymakers and thinkers. Does the West Know Best examined the new EU member states’ more radical approaches to social and economic reform, such as flat taxation, the privatization of social security and moves towards more market-oriented health systems. I was awed to meet people from think tanks in places such as Croatia and Estonia, who have literally lived (or indeed still living) through the transition from communism to democracy. Their determination to pursue the ideals of the free market – regardless of the current political climate or pressure – amazed me. Newly elected Polish MEP Michal Kaminski frequently relays the story about how he learned about conservatism by listening to Mrs. Thatcher & President Reagan on the BBC World Service on a clandestine radio, hidden under his bed covers, for fear of the authorities.

Free market think tanks are now converging on Brussels, either directly or indirectly. The Center for New Europe, a non-profit, pro-market research foundation is headquartered in Brussels, popping up everywhere with its well-researched publications and arguments; SN’s Europe-wide network is rapidly developing into a formal arrangement of academics, policy practitioners, journalists and business people, exchanging market-oriented policy ideas and reform strategies right across the EU. The conservatives are seemingly back in Brussels. Lets hope for good.

 

ALEC News

Sally McNamara has been invited as a regular columnist for the London-based think tank, The Bruges Group. The Bruges Group is an independent all-party [exclusively Conservative Party] think tank, founded in February 1989 with the vision of a free trading, decentralized, deregulated and democratic Europe of nation-states.  Its inspiration was Margaret Thatcher’s Bruges speech in September 1988, in which she remarked that, “We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them re-imposed at a European level.”

(The Bruges Group can be found at http://brugesgroup.com)

 

ALEC NEWS

 

ALEC was privileged to host five conservative legislators from the European Parliament at a roundtable discussion on June 27th. Martin Callanan, Chris Heaton-Harris, Roger Helmer, Dan Hannan and Michal Tomasz Kaminski MEPs briefed ALEC members on a range of topics, including REACH, the draft European Constitution and the precautionary principle.

 ALEC’s Executive Director, Duane Parde, was invited to visit London last month in order to attend a gala dinner in honor of former Prime Minister, Lady Margaret Thatcher.  At the personal invitation of British Conservative MEP Chris Heaton-Harris, Mr. Parde met Mrs. Thatcher, who later addressed the dinner, speaking through an aide.

ALEC’s International Relations Project Director, Sally McNamara, attended the Heritage Foundation’s conference “Is the European Union in the Interests of the United States?” Speakers included Christopher Booker (journalist and editor, UK Daily Telegraph), Judge Robert H. Bork (Distinguished Fellow, Hudson Institute) and The Rt. Hon David Heathcoat-Amory MP (British parliamentarian). [Conservative Party, naturally]

ALEC’s Adam Smith Scholar Roger Helmer MEP produces a monthly e-update on his parliamentary activities, entitled Straight Talking on Europe. To receive Straight Talking, please email rhelmer@europarl.eu.int

ALEC NEWS

 ALEC was delighted to welcome Czech Republic MEP, Dr. Ivo Strejcek to its 32nd Annual Meeting in Grapevine, Texas. Dr. Strejcek spoke about the importance of the Transatlantic Relationship and the role of legislators in preserving the alliance. Christopher Horner, of the European Enterprise Institute, then spoke about the precautionary principle and the EU’s attempts to make it the international standard.

For copies of Dr. Strejcek or Mr. Horner’s PowerPoint presentations, please contact Sally McNamara – smcnamara@alec.org

 

ALEC NEWS

 As part of its International Relations Project, ALEC took a group of legislators and private sector members to Strasbourg and Prague last month, and met with leading members of the European public policy community to debate various issues on the current global agenda. In Strasbourg, we were hosted at both the European Parliament and the U.S. Consulate General; In Prague, we were hosted at the Czech Parliament, Senate and the American Embassy. We were personally welcomed by Consulate General Frankie Reed and His Excellency William Cabaniss in Strasbourg and Prague respectively.

For more details and a full report on this educational exchange, please contact Sally McNamara – smcnamara@alec.org

 

ALEC was privileged to attend the Autumn Strategy Meeting of the Transatlantic Policy Network in Washington D.C. this month. Entitled “The United States and the European Union: Working Together to Solve Global challenges”, TPN is a non-governmental, public-private network working for a stable, strong transatlantic partnership. Hosted at the Capitol, successful sessions were held on financial services, the digital economy and intellectual property rights.

 

SALLY MCNAMARA, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS PROJECT DIRECTOR

As part of its annual exchange visits with European legislators, a bi-partisan, high-level ALEC delegation visited Strasbourg, France and Prague, Czech Republic last month.

Meeting in Strasbourg during the plenary session of the European Parliament, ALEC met with 20 European legislators, from several EU Member States and, in keeping with our non partisan philosophy, from differing Parliamentary parties. During this session, we were particularly proud to welcome Roger Helmer MEP as the first member of our new for international legislators membership program. Roger has served as ALEC’s Adam Smith Scholar for several years and will also attend our upcoming States and Nation Policy Summit in Washington D.C. next month. ALEC is delighted to continue this successful public policy exchange with Europe’s legislators.

ALEC’s Prague program was equally as exciting. It began with a series of meetings with representatives from the ODS Party, the Czech Republic’s conservative party and major opposition to the current left-wing government. We were welcomed by leading legislators, including Mirek Topolanek (Chairman of ODS) and Ivo Strejcek, Member of the European Parliament. Ivo addressed ALEC’s Annual Meeting in Texas earlier this year, and reminds us that the diversity and vibrancy of the European Parliament has been vastly enhanced with the inclusion of several hundred legislators from Eastern and Central Europe.

ALEC was also exceptionally privileged to be hosted at the American Embassy in Prague, to be personally welcomed by His Excellency, Ambassador William J. Cabaniss. In the spectacular surroundings of the Ambassador’s private residence, former Alabama State Legislator Mr. Cabaniss enthusiastically greeted ALEC and encouraged the continuance of deep bi-lateral relations between our two nations.

The ultimate mission of the international relations project is: “To foster a policy-based program for the promotion, exchange, and implementation of Jeffersonian principles at the international level.” With a varied program, meeting all levels of policy-makers, ALEC’s international visit successfully continues our dialogue with like-minded legislators, as well as establishing new working relationships throughout the international policy community.

 

DUANE PARDE – ALEC’s Executive Director

The tragedy of the terrorist bombings in London seem all too vivid this side of the Atlantic – and not just because of our own recent experiences; the ‘special relationship’ that defines Anglo-American relations means that we have a shared understanding that these attacks are attacks on the liberty and freedom we fight together for, at home and abroad. We know that the sympathies and resolve of the American people are with the British people right now then – just as they stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us in the wake of 9/11.

I visited London for the second time this June, to meet with conservative legislators from both Westminster and Brussels. Newly elected Conservative Party MPs Robert Goodwill and Peter Bone both talked about the domestic policy scene in England, including the problems of devolving power down from the national governmental level. Although the Conservatives are in a minority at a national level, they are in the majority at the local level. But in the absence of any sort of ALEC model, they often have trouble benchmarking conservative policies or sharing information. Chris Heaton-Harris MEP, who stood for local election several times before entering the European Parliament, believes that ALEC’s formula of sharing model legislation and meeting on a consistent basis to share best practice is one that British Conservatives should now start to imitate.

I also met with several British MEPs in London, including Michal Tomasz Kaminski (Poland) and Roger Helmer (UK and ALEC’s Adam Smith Scholar). With the emergence of strong ‘new” member states in the European Union, like Poland, they too are having trouble bringing together genuinely conservative legislators to form international alliances. Michal Kaminski talked extensively about how well organized the left is, and how they bring fresh impetus to their work across the world with mutual support and information-sharing; he too is keen to use the ALEC model to bring international leadership to the conservative movement.

The highlight of the trip though had to be a gala dinner hosted in honor of former Prime Minister, Lady Margaret Thatcher. Despite turning 80 this October, the Iron Lady is still an imposing figure on the world stage; and our brief meeting seems all the more poignant now as America and Britain once again fight together to preserve our way of life – just as she did with such conviction throughout the Cold War with President Reagan.

Our two countries have shared the greatest of triumphs and the greatest of tragedies over the years, from the beaches of Normandy to the deserts of Iraq. My visit to London highlighted to me that this alliance is one that we conservatives must fight to preserve. ALEC’s model of sharing information and promoting policies rooted firmly in our Jeffersonian principles is surely the best place to start then.

na-Saighneain

na-Saighneain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks

Anonymous billionaires donated $120m to more than 100 anti-climate groups working to discredit climate change science

Funding climate deniersnn :  Americans For Prosperity

Climate sceptic groups are mobilising against Obama’s efforts to act on climate change in his second term. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

(editor’s note:  this article refers to even more about members of the ALEC/Koch Cabal and their efforts to promote climate change denial)

How Donors Trust distributed millions to anti-climate groups

Conservative billionaires used a secretive funding route to channel nearly $120m (£77m) to more than 100 groups casting doubt about the science behind climate change, the Guardian has learned.

The funds, doled out between 2002 and 2010, helped build a vast network of thinktanks and activist groups working to a single purpose: to redefine climate change from neutral scientific fact to a highly polarising “wedge issue” for hardcore conservatives.

The millions were routed through two trusts, Donors Trust and the Donors Capital Fund, operating out of a generic town house in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington DC. Donors Capital caters to those making donations of $1m or more.

Whitney Ball, chief executive of the Donors Trust told the Guardian that her organisation assured wealthy donors that their funds would never by diverted to liberal causes.
Koch Industries Executive Vice President David H. Koch : Funding climate chang deniersThe funding stream far outstripped the support from more visible opponents of climate action such as the oil industry or the conservative billionaire Koch brothers. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

“We exist to help donors promote liberty which we understand to be limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise,” she said in an interview.

By definition that means none of the money is going to end up with groups like Greenpeace, she said. “It won’t be going to liberals.”

Ball won’t divulge names, but she said the stable of donors represents a wide range of opinion on the American right. Increasingly over the years, those conservative donors have been pushing funds towards organisations working to discredit climate science or block climate action.

Donors exhibit sharp differences of opinion on many issues, Ball said. They run the spectrum of conservative opinion, from social conservatives to libertarians. But in opposing mandatory cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, they found common ground.

“Are there both sides of an environmental issue? Probably not,” she went on. “Here is the thing. If you look at libertarians, you tend to have a lot of differences on things like defence, immigration, drugs, the war, things like that compared to conservatives. When it comes to issues like the environment, if there are differences, they are not nearly as pronounced.”

By 2010, the dark money amounted to $118m distributed to 102 thinktanks or action groups which have a record of denying the existence of a human factor in climate change, or opposing environmental regulations.

The money flowed to Washington thinktanks embedded in Republican party politics, obscure policy forums in Alaska and Tennessee, contrarian scientists at Harvard and lesser institutions, even to buy up DVDs of a film attacking Al Gore.

The ready stream of cash set off a conservative backlash against Barack Obama’s environmental agenda that wrecked any chance of Congress taking action on climate change.
Graphic-climate-denial-secret funding - guardian UKGraphic: climate denial funding

Those same groups are now mobilising against Obama’s efforts to act on climate change in his second term. A top recipient of the secret funds on Wednesday put out a point-by-point critique of the climate content in the president’s state of the union address.

And it was all done with a guarantee of complete anonymity for the donors who wished to remain hidden.

“The funding of the denial machine is becoming increasingly invisible to public scrutiny. It’s also growing. Budgets for all these different groups are growing,” said Kert Davies, research director of Greenpeace, which compiled the data on funding of the anti-climate groups using tax records.

“These groups are increasingly getting money from sources that are anonymous or untraceable. There is no transparency, no accountability for the money. There is no way to tell who is funding them,” Davies said.

The trusts were established for the express purpose of managing donations to a host of conservative causes.

Such vehicles, called donor-advised funds, are not uncommon in America. They offer a number of advantages to wealthy donors. They are convenient, cheaper to run than a private foundation, offer tax breaks and are lawful.

That opposition hardened over the years, especially from the mid-2000s where the Greenpeace record shows a sharp spike in funds to the anti-climate cause.

In effect, the Donors Trust was bankrolling a movement, said Robert Brulle, a Drexel University sociologist who has extensively researched the networks of ultra-conservative donors.

“This is what I call the counter-movement, a large-scale effort that is an organised effort and that is part and parcel of the conservative movement in the United States ” Brulle said. “We don’t know where a lot of the money is coming from, but we do know that Donors Trust is just one example of the dark money flowing into this effort.”

In his view, Brulle said: “Donors Trust is just the tip of a very big iceberg.”

The rise of that movement is evident in the funding stream. In 2002, the two trusts raised less than $900,000 for the anti-climate cause. That was a fraction of what Exxon Mobil or the conservative oil billionaire Koch brothers donated to climate skeptic groups that year.

By 2010, the two Donor Trusts between them were channelling just under $30m to a host of conservative organisations opposing climate action or science. That accounted to 46% of all their grants to conservative causes, according to the Greenpeace analysis.

The funding stream far outstripped the support from more visible opponents of climate action such as the oil industry or the conservative billionaire Koch brothers, the records show. When it came to blocking action on the climate crisis, the obscure charity in the suburbs was outspending the Koch brothers by a factor of six to one.

“There is plenty of money coming from elsewhere,” said John Mashey, a retired computer executive who has researched funding for climate contrarians. “Focusing on the Kochs gets things confused. You can not ignore the Kochs. They have their fingers in too many things, but they are not the only ones.”

It is also possible the Kochs continued to fund their favourite projects using the anonymity offered by Donor Trust.

But the records suggest many other wealthy conservatives opened up their wallets to the anti-climate cause – an impression Ball wishes to stick.

She argued the media had overblown the Kochs support for conservative causes like climate contrarianism over the years. “It’s so funny that on the right we think George Soros funds everything, and on the left you guys think it is the evil Koch brothers who are behind everything. It’s just not true. If the Koch brothers didn’t exist we would still have a very healthy organisation,” Ball said.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

This article is written by

Media campaign against windfarms funded by anonymous conservatives

Secretive funding network channeled millions to stop state governments moving towards renewable energy

Anti wind farm lobby :  near Shabbona, Illinois

The trusts, Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, served as the bankers of the conservative movement over the past decade, have funded a campaign against windfarms. Photograph: Alex Garcia/Getty Images

(editor’s note:  this article is describing the activities of groups involved in the ALEC/Koch Cabal)

 

Conservatives used a pair of secretive trusts to fund a media campaign against windfarms and solar projects, and to block state agencies from planning for future sea-level rise, the Guardian has learned.

The trusts, Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, served as the bankers of the conservative movement over the past decade. Promising anonymity to their conservative billionaire patrons, the trusts between them channelled nearly $120m to contrarian thinktanks and activists, wrecking the chances of getting Congress to act on climate change.

Now the Guardian can reveal the latest project of the secretive funding network: a campaign to stop state governments moving towards renewable energy.

The campaign against wind and solar power was led by a relatively new entity, the Franklin Centre for Government and Public Integrity. The Franklin Centre did not exist before 2009, but it has quickly become a protege of Donors Trust.

The Franklin Centre, headquarters barely one-tenth of a mile away from the nondescript Alexandria, Virginia town home of its funders, received $6.3m from the two funds in 2011. It was the second largest disbursement to any entity by the Donors that year, according to tax records.

The largesse to the Franklin Centre signals a shift in priorities for the conservative billionaires who are funding the anti-climate cause towards local and state-level organising.

The backers of the anti-climate cause have eased off in their support of DC-centric thinktanks, said Whitney Ball, the chief executive and president of Donors Trust. “They are not as prominent any more.”

Instead, it appears the donors are banking on an aggressive anti-climate media strategy, led by the Franklin Centre, to push back against climate action.

In 2011, Donors Trust helped the Franklin Centre expand its media operations to Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia, the Centre for Public Integrity reported in an investigation on conservative funding networks.

The Franklin Centre purports to be a hub for a network of “citizen journalists” and “watchdog” groups reporting from state capitals. It claims on its website to provide 10% of all daily reporting from state capitals across the country. It says it is on a mission to uphold a media culture of “transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility at the grassroots level”.

But the Pew Research Centre’s Project for Excellence in Journalism has ranked Franklin’s watchdog.org affiliates as “highly ideological”. Many of the media organisations listed on Franklin’s website as affiliates are ultra-conservative groups.

Among them are several that have been active in the past year or two to stop the expansion of solar power and windfarms.

In North Carolina, the two Franklin affiliates, the John Locke Foundation and the John W Pope Civitas Institute, also led effort for a ban on the term “sea-level rise”. The state legislature eventually voted in June last year to bar state agencies from taking into account future sea-level rise in development planning.

The groups have also led opposition to offshore wind development in North Carolina, organising workshops against windfarms.

Another Franklin affiliate, the New Jersey Watchdog, pushed for the state to drop out of a regional emissions cutting programme.

Other Watchdog affiliates have cast doubt on the link between extreme weather and climate change.

CPI found multiple ties between the Franklin Centre and groups such as Americans for Prosperity, which has been funded by Donors Trust as well as the conservative oil billionaire Koch brothers. Some of the Franklin Centre’s blogs have received funds from AFP. There was also cross-over of board members in the two groups.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The article was written by, US environment correspondent for the guardian.co.uk,