After Its Subsidiary Bribed Mexican Officials, Wal-Mart Lobbies To Weaken Anti-Bribery Laws

By posted Apr 23rd 2012

The details of Wal-Mart’s complicity in bribery are shocking, but there is one important element that the  (New York) Times did not report.

While Wal-Mart’s largest subsidiary spent millions of dollars systematically bribing Mexican officials, the company back home has been working, through big business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to weaken the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which renders it illegal for corporations to bribe officials in foreign countries.

To read more about how Wal-Mart is trying to wiggle out of its problems with the Department of Justice for clearly breaking the FCPA laws, please click here.

How Do You Fight Voter Suppression?

The single most effective way to fight voter suppression is to register to vote, and then vote on election day.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) made news this week when they announced that they were discontinuing their Public Safety and Elections Task Force. This Task Force was responsible for the promotion of ‘model’ voter identification and stand-your-ground legislation that has recently been in the news. This announcement came after many organizations put pressure on corporations to withdraw their support from ALEC.

 This retreat by ALEC is an important step for organizations like the League that have worked so hard to protect voting rights and protect the public interest in many other areas.  We must still remain vigilant against special interest influence on our government and democracy which has too often been hidden from the public.

The League always encourages voters to stand their ground. Special interests cannot prevail when confronted by an informed and engaged electorate. In order to do this, Leagues across the country will continue to work hard registering and educating voters, while also seeking to improve our government and elections.

To this end, The Charlotte-Mecklenburg League of Women Voters will be on hand from 11AM-2PM on 5/12 at the ALEC Teach-In to register people to vote.  Please be sure to bring all materials that you will need to register.

And remember, those who will be 18 by election day in November can register to vote in the 5/8 Primaries.

To find out more about this vital organization, please click here

Conservative’s Support ALEC by Comparing it to the NCSL – Why There Really is No Comparison

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.

No easy fix for Postal Service woes

by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)

In today’s Charlottte Observer, NC Senator Richard Burr, one of the most conservative members of the U.S. Senate had the following to say about the USPS:

While the future of the Postal Service is uncertain, what we do know is that comprehensive reform will be needed to address its many issues… Unfortunately, the situation facing the Postal Service is much more grave than that, and it might require a restructuring of the entire agency in order to save it from insolvency.

To read the rest of his opinions re the USPS, see an immediate faulty conclusion, and to see why the USPS is in mortal danger from conservatives in Congress, please click here:

ALEC’s Other ‘Deadly Force’ Campaign to Kill Climate Initiatives

MONEYPOWERANDALEC

By  from Huffington Post.

“But the secretive group’s influence in statehouses goes a lot further than deadly force, self-defense laws. Since its founding in 1973, ALEC has ghostwritten state legislation across the country on a wide range of issues, from voter ID laws to prison policy to worker protections, as a number of press accounts have pointed out.

“What has gone unmentioned, however, is ALEC’s longtime stealth campaign to scuttle state–and federal–climate change initiatives, despite the fact that a number of its corporate members publicly acknowledge that global warming is a serious problem. They include General Motors; oil giants BP America, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell Oil; and electric utilities Duke Energy, Entergy and Progress Energy.”

Read this important article here

AT&T and Johnson & Johnson Stocks Begin to Drop Due to ALEC Controversy!

From the International Business Times –

ALEC Disbands Task Force On ‘Stand Your Ground’ After Liberal, Rights Groups Protest”

“Its [ALEC] board of scholars includes Arthur Laffer, the inventor of the “Laffer curve” in economics, as well as Stephen Moore, a former president of the Club for Growth, which backs Republican candidates, who now writes for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. (NYSE: NWS).

“AT&T, McDonald’s and Johnson & Johnson and State Farm have not commented on the controversy. Shares of AT&T fell 11 cents to $30.78, while Johnson & Johnson fell $1.10 to $63.13 in midday Wednesday trading.”

Read full article here

Postal workers organize rallies to protest possible service, job cuts

CHARLOTTE – U.S. postal workers across the nation took to the streets on one of the busiest postal days of the year, to rally for support.

Members of the American Postal Workers and the National Postal Mail Handlers Unions want the public to know about possible changes to service. They said those changes would be detrimental to the customer.

“There is going to be a great loss of service to the public and they don’t realize it, they don’t know it,” said Cindy Foster with the Charlotte APWU.

To read the rest of this article and to watch the embedded video, please click here.

Occupy Winston-Salem protests U.S. Post Office closures

On April 16, local residents and members of Occupy Winston-Salem held a demonstration at the U.S. Post Office in the Waughtown area. Protesters demanded that the only post office in the community not be closed down.

Across the country, hundreds of U.S. post offices are on a closure list, based upon the amount of revenue they generate. For the Waughtown area, which is known to be one of the most diverse, predominantly working class communities in Winston-Salem, the closure of the one and only post office would be a major setback.

To read more about this event, please click here.

KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut’s Owner Is The 12th Corporation To Drop ALEC

By Ian Millhiser on Apr 19, 2012

…”The loss of Yum! is also a significant loss for ALEC because the fast food giant held an important leadership role within the conservative group. YUM! co-chaired ALEC’s Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee which, among other things, fought to repeal laws guaranteeing paid sick leave to workers.”

To read this entire article, please click here.

LA. ALEC State Chairman, Rep. Greg CROMER PUBLICLY RESIGNS FROM ALEC

From Louisiana Voice

“Rep. Greg Cromer (R-90) today announced his resignation from the American Legislative Exchange Coucil

ALEC is an association of conservative state lawmakers from around the country.  Cromer has served as chair of the Louisiana ALEC Chapter since December 2010.

“Cromer emailed his resignation today to Laura Elliott, ALEC’s director of state programs.

“It has been brought to my attention that there have been meetings and/or activities with ALEC staff members within the state of Louisiana that I have not been privy to,” Cromer wrote.  “As a courtesy I believe I should have been notified as to any activities that ALEC staff were expected to participate in within the state of Louisiana.”

Read full article here