Apr 23, 2012
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is the new diversion being used by ALEC and their Right Wing supporters in an attempt to divert attention away from ALEC’s agenda – and current media interest about that agenda.
ALEC would like to distract those reading the hundreds of articles, blogs, tweets and other information now coming out about them by claiming that there are other organizations in existence that also provide some form of “model legislation” for lawmakers to use in developing laws for their states. While there are other organizations out there as ALEC claims, there is simply no real comparison between what organizations such as the NCSL and ALEC does. This argument is another apples to oranges one which ALEC is very good at making.
The complaints made against ALEC are about their writing and dissemination of hundreds of model bills that have become law and/or are in debate currently. These include; Stand Your Ground laws nationwide (which they fail to admit two of their members originally introduced in Florida several years ago), their model legislation to deregulate the EPA, repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), voter ID, privatization of the USPS and rolling back environmental laws. While all of ALEC’s activities interfering with our legislative and democratic processes are now coming under attack, those seen as related to the SYG and Voter legislation are drawing the most ire.
In responding to their critics, ALEC has decided to go on the offensive by tossing the NCSL into the conversation, claiming they are doing the same thing. What we all should keep in mind is that the fight against ALEC is for specific actions they have taken that put human life, liberty and the right to vote in jeopardy. The NCSL did not write, support or lobby for Stand Your Ground, Voter ID legislation, deregulation of the EPA or to privatize the Postal Service – ALEC did these things and did it on behalf of corporate interests. No one has accused the NCSL of ever disseminating any legislation even remotely similar to those ALEC has acknowledged responsibility for. If ALEC has specific allegations against the NCSL – or any other organization – about “model” legislation they’ve put out, they should make them.
Just as there is a diversity of the types, styles and operations of corporations in the U.S., there is a similar diversity of types of organizations that exist to influence democracy – on the left, middle and the right. A company may offer the same product as another but operate in a manner that is criminal or illegal – that does not mean all companies making the same product are also operating improperly. Similarly, the improper actions of one organization to influence politics and government does not transfer to other organizations with the same goals or operations.
With developing legislation there are several organizations involved in that but ALEC alone has a record of disseminating “model legislation” that has been used to kill humans, create mass incarceration, deregulate governmental oversight, eliminate public and private sector jobs and suppress the legal right of Americans to vote. ALEC is now international, involved in conservative legislative efforts in the UK, Poland, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. This is why they are under steady attack from all sides today. They operate behind a curtain of secrecy, refusing to release their membership lists, proposed legislation and operate in such a manner that they afford corporations an equal voice and vote at the table – in exchange for millions in contributions and membership fees from the companies.
The SCOTUS decision in Citizen’s United granted corporations the “right” to involve themselves in our elections. ALEC sold them the right to pre-vote on legislation that will ultimately become state laws. One gave corporations the right to financially control the outcome(s) of our electoral processes and the other an actual way to vote in the laws developed. The NCSL does not operate in this manner, and even if it did, they are not a part of the ongoing battle over anti-democratic activities.
ALEC came under attack last year through protests in Cincinnati, New Orleans and Phoenix at meetings held by them in those cities. Much of ALEC’s model legislation was released by a whistleblower and made public. Bloggers, activists and journalists dug through piles of documents, research and FOIA returns and began to write extensively about ALEC and their activities – and ALEC basically thumbed their nose at everyone…until the Trayvon Martin and stand your ground law became a national issue. Suddenly ALEC found themselves in the news worldwide and realized their error of not getting on top of the resistance that had been slowly building against them over the past year. By staying more or less silent and ignoring reports and articles identifying them, they allowed a groundswell to build and become an anti-ALEC-tsunami. Now trying to play catch-up, they call upon Right Wing bloggers, activists, institutes, foundations and organizations to come to their aid and help them push back against the tide.
The main thrust of this push-back is that they are not the only organization out there pushing model legislation, and now assert others are simply “jealous” of their rate of success. I do not perceive any jealousy about ALEC’s successes, rather an anger that they have been allowed to operate like this for so long, changing the landscape of our democracy on behalf of paying corporations.
Don’t be distracted by ALEC’s new argument about the NCSL and lose sight of who and what ALEC is and why they are under intense attacks and their members quitting en masse. Corporate boards and executives are very much aware of the activities of their companies and whether those activities present the possibility of a scandal. So far 12 companies have abandoned ALEC along with an increasing number of elected legislators. They are not leaving due to unsubstantiated claims by leftist media and activists – they’ve left because each knows with certainty what ALEC is and what they’ve been doing and are getting out before everything concerning ALEC is made public.
Consider the source of the false claims about the NCSL and similar organizations. They exist to genuinely attempt to assist lawmakers in developing laws beneficial to their states in response to an established need. ALEC assists corporations to write laws to fatten their bottom lines and use their legislative members to make that happen. There is no organization out there operating in like manner, corporate funded and presenting only one kind of political view…just ALEC.