Meet The Corporate Members of ALEC’s Task Forces – A Review of Their Backgrounds and Connections

From CNN by Libby Lewis “NRA expands its role from fight for gun rights to conservative causes

CNN reports that the NRA was involved with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) through their representative,

“An NRA lobbyist, Tara Mica, helped shepherd a model bill that requires voters to show a photo ID at the polls…Mica also helped preside over ALEC’s passage of the model bill that became the basis of Arizona’s immigration law.”

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When some read about this and related issues of “lobbyists” helping to craft legislation through ALEC, all information about that lobbyists or individual named is often not presented.  For instance about Tara Mica being a lobbyists for the NRA…

Ms. Mica is listed in the CNN article as a “lobbyist” for the NRA, however she was much more than that.  She served the NRA-Institute for Legislative Action as their “State Liaison”.  This NRA-ILA is the NRA – serving as their Lobbying arm…Ms. Mica was representing the NRA directly through this organization while she co-chaired ALEC’s Public Safety and Elections Task Force until last year.  The NRA is a recipient of funding from the Koch family foundations, Bradley foundation, Scaife foundation and Wal-Mart.

This issue of chairing or co-chairing ALEC’s task forces as corporate “Private Enterprise Board” representatives is important to understanding how ALEC’s model legislation processes work.  Coca~Cola, Kraft and PepsiCo have all issued statements that they participated in discussions about issues of interest to their companies, i.e., taxation, product liability, tort reform, but had no input or participation in the voter ID or privatization discussions of developing model legislation.  I believe these claims are false and given out to deflect adverse publicity about their involvement in all model legislation that passes through each task force that they’re a part of.

ALEC’s procedures are set up to require a unanimous vote on behalf of corporate members in each task force or working group, and without that, any proposed legislation cannot be advanced to the entire membership for adoption as model legislation.  If even one  corporate representative votes nay on a proposed model, it is tabled and cannot advance. Legislative members are prohibited from taking proposed legislation not supported by the corporate members back to their home states and introducing it  as a proposed law.

The Immigration legislation disseminated by ALEC could never have happened unless the corporations voted it through to the full membership.  The task force co-chaired by Tara Mica and thus the NRA, is where Arizona’s SB 1070 was born and passed, moving to the full membership for adoption.  Once passed it subsequently spawned similar legislation in more than 25 states since.  The same goes for the voter ID legislation complained of by Americans coast to coast. These legislative “bills” were both approved while Ms. Mica sat as the co-chair of ALEC’s public safety task force from 2008 through 2011 – and they each advanced upon a unanimous vote on behalf of the NRA and others at the table. So the argument that the “NRA took no part or position on those laws” is disingenuous.  Without the NRA’s vote of yea – all of those proposed laws would not have been adopted and now controlling law in several states.

Today the private sector chair of the public safety and elections task force is Stacie Rumenap, representing Stop Child Predators. SCP is an organization dedicated to stopping those who would exploit children  However, their Advisory Board is comprised of individuals with a vast experience in education, student loans and other school initiatives (though there are a couple with past DoJ and related criminal justice experience).  As we are now aware, education privatization, for-profit colleges, vouchers and higher education issues are now at the top of ALEC’s to-do list. One of the SCP board members is the VP of Apollo Group – also involved directly with ALEC on pushing education legislation.  Apollo Group (for-profit college company) was involved with ALEC in their AZ. conference last November and has donated $75,000 to the Romney Super Pac, Restore Our Future when Apollo’s bottom line was threatened or harmed by regulations supported by the Obama Administration.

Other key corporate ALEC Task Force representatives are:

The foregoing does not include those corporate members sitting on the actual task forces or within the “working groups” of those task forces, etc.  As shown those corporations and organizations belonging to ALEC don’t simply have a representative tasked with attending ALEC conferences, meetings and working groups.  They have key corporate executives assigned to liaison with ALEC; vice presidents, directors and highly paid lobbyists who chair or wield influence over the working groups and task forces they sit upon.  In addition as we see with Apollo and SCP above, they are also interrelated away from ALEC but continue to push issues important to ALEC and to openly fund conservative candidates who are pro-corporate.  In the Apollo/SCP case the key issues are for-profit education – from K-12 through college.

What is so puzzling to many today is that as a 501(c)(3) “charity” ALEC is not allowed to lobby, support particular candidates or attempt to influence any legislation.  However with lobbyists representing corporations belonging to that organization as “members” and sitting down at the table to discuss potential laws that benefit them with elected lawmaker “members”, there is no separation between the two groups. The meetings, discussions and determinations about which laws to adopt and attempt to pass in our states is done through the sponsorship of ALEC.  ALEC sets the meeting schedules, picks the locations for those meetings, works with Private Enterprise state Chairmen to acquire “donations” and “contributions” to pay expenses for lawmakers attendance are reimbursed for travel, accommodations, meals and other expenses – including travel and expenses for the families of legislators.

Between meetings ALEC staff members openly travel around the country to each legislature to “testify” about key legislation they want passed.  When critics complain about the open lobbying for legislation directly to a legislature, ALEC claims that they are not lobbying, they were invited to attend the hearing by a member or members of that legislature.  Of course the invites come from lawmakers who are ALEC members and in this manner ALEC is able to directly lobby on behalf of a particular piece of legislation important to them and the conservative agenda.

VLTP is hopeful that this new peeling back of the corporate involvement in ALEC through the numerous article about Coca~Cola, Pepsi, Kraft Foods and those still remaining as members of the cabal will result in longer and harder looks at not just those memberships, but also the bios and positions of the actual individuals representing each member.