ALEC Spring Summit

More Lack of Transparency by ALEC Revealed and Reported

More Lack of Transparency by ALEC Revealed and Reported

From an article at PRWatch by Brendan Fischer

Here we go again, with more information coming out about ALEC’s Spring Summit event in Oklahoma City. While advising the public that the ALEC organization is pursuing “transparency” they send out instructions to members to in effect, be non-transparent…

“Shortly after the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) told the press “we really believe in transparency,” new documents show the organization directing legislators to hide ALEC meeting agendas and model legislation from the public. This effort to circumvent state freedom of information laws is being called “shocking” and “disturbing” by transparency advocates.

ALEC disclaimer

“A disclaimer published at the bottom of meeting agendas and model bills from ALEC’s most recent meeting in Oklahoma City, obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy, reads: “Because this is an internal ALEC document, ALEC believes it is not subject to disclosure under any state Freedom of Information or Public Records Act.”

“If you receive a request for disclosure of this or any other ALEC document under your state’s Freedom of Information or Public Records Act, please contact Michael Bowman, Senior Director, Policy and Strategic Initiatives,” it says.

It isn’t just VLTP, PRWatch, CMD and Common Cause making the claim that what ALEC is attempting to do is unethical and raising questions of legality regarding the release of documents sought.  Mark Caramanica, the Freedom of Information Director at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press told CMD’s Fischer;

“Private individuals or organizations cannot simply label a document private and say it is private on their own. It is not their decision to make.”

Legislators attend ALEC meetings in their official capacity, and ALEC has claimed that they do so “on behalf of and for the benefit of the state.” Under almost every state’s public records law, all documents related to official business are considered public unless there is a specific exemption, defined and passed by the legislature, and embodied in the statutes. “ALEC cannot create exemptions of [its] own imagination,” Caramanica told the Center for Media and Democracy.”

“This certainly raises the question,” asks Caramanica, “what are their motives for trying to keep their documents secret?”

Time and time again those of us researching, investigating and reporting on ALEC activities have told the public that ALEC simply cannot be trusted.  They lie, lie again and swear it isn’t a lie, then decline to comment when the facts and documents clearly show they have lied.  Again, they have demonstrated that ALEC cannot be believed and that is worrisome. They continue to assert that what they’re doing in secret behind closed doors causes no harm to Americans…is that simply another of their continuous lies?

This is one key reason ALEC needs to be abolished from our political landscape.  Behind their continued secrecy they are working diligently to craft laws and resolutions that benefit the GOP’s conservative wing – at a cost to all Americans, regardless of party affiliation.

Read the in-depth Brendan Fischer article from PRWatch -> HERE <-

Spring Summit Conference Draws Protesters that Outnumber ALEC Members

Spring Summit Conference Draws Protesters that Outnumber ALEC Members

By Bob Sloan

ALEC Ok 3

Every Spring the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) holds a meeting where their legislative and corporate members are wined and dined and commingle as they develop model legislation intended to provide financial or polictal benefits to corporations.  Model bills are proposed, discussed and voted upon by state lawmakers and their private sector corporate counterparts.  If adopted by the full membership, these policies and models are then sent back to individual states and proposed as new laws for those states – and if passed, will apply to you and I.

This year at the annual ALEC Spring Summit conference held in Oklahoma City , it appeared that for possibly the second time in as many years, protesters, workers and marchers outnumbered corporate and legislative ALEC members in attendance.

The day’s events were organized and planned by the Teamsters, AFLCIO and International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF).  Activists and workers carrying signs provided by ALEC Exposed.org and others bearing handwritten placards joined with the union workers marching and chanting in front of the ALEC meeting place.  Though the crowd of protesters were as vocal about telling ALEC it was not okay to be in OK, they were not unruly or obstructed by police as had been the case at previous ALEC protests.

In Phoenix in November 2011 hundreds of protesters showed up to demonstrate, march and inform the public about ALEC.  Police cordoned off the Kierland Westin resort where the ALEC event was being held, refusing entrance to non-ALEC members or registered hotel guests.  Yesterday there was a police presence in OK City but it was minimal and marchers were able to surround the entrance to the Renaissance Hotel and Cox Convention Center.  No police were blocking the entrance or offering to spray protesters as they did in Phoenix – and before that in a New Orleans ALEC protest.

Outside the entrance to Cox Convention Center, a few ALEC members were standing watching the protesters march by on the sidewalk.  As they watched they smiled and some took pictures or video of the marchers passing by – with one ALEC attendee making faces at the crowd and at the media.  Of course, he had his name badge turned around so no one knew who he was or what outfit he represented.  Could have been a state lawmaker, for that matter.

ALEC Ok 4

One person wearing an ALEC “Private Sector Member” badge, was identified as “Dave”.AFP Com Dir on Right 2

When approached by a news reporter and asked if he was an ALEC member, the man was silent then when the reporter focused the camera on the man’s badge, saying “Your badge says you’re the communications and policy director with American’s For Prosperity…” the man at first tried to deny that, saying “No, I’m not.”  When the reporter asked him “What is the Communications and Policy Director for AFP doing here today,” Dave responded, “Oh, right now I’m just standing here.”

This was an important moment in a day of importance…American’s for Prosperity has previously not been identified as being a member of ALEC.  ALEC Exposed.org does not have AFP listed as a non-profit ALEC member…yet this man’s badge (though the video is shaky) clearly identifies him as an ALEC Private Sector Member and further identifies the organization he represents as AFP.

AFP was founded with the support of David H. Koch and Charles G. Koch, both of Koch Industries.[, and they are represented upon ALEC’s Private Enterprise Board (now called the Private Enterprise Advisory Council) by Mike Morgan of Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC

A full video of the day’s events was livestreamed over the internet and can be found at the AFLCIO site here.  The above confrontation between “Dave” and the media reporter occurs at between 49 and 52 minutes into the video.

All of us here at VLTP send out a heartfelt thanks to the organizers, unions, businesses and individuals who participated in yesterday’s events.  We need much more of this and hopefully as ALEC makes plans for their upcoming Annual Conference in Chicago in early August, a larger contingent will be on hand to again provide ALEC and all of their attending members – a great big Chicago “welcome”.

Below are some screen shots from the protest march yesterday… The first shows “Dave” with the sidekick that made faces at the reporter’s camera and had his name badge hidden.

AFP Com Dir on Right    ALEC Ok 2    ALEC Ok 1

05/01 Daily Report on Activities, Legislation and Initiatives of the ALEC/Koch Cabal

05/01 Daily Report on Activities, Legislation and Initiatives of the ALEC/Koch Cabal

By Bob Sloan

Below are today’s articles and materials related to ALEC and the Koch funded conservative cabal.  Included ALEC published material – if available.

Click on a link to view the complete article.

First “Ag-Gag” Prosecution: This Utah Woman Filmed a Slaughterhouse from the Public Street

“This is the first prosecution in the country under one of these laws, which are designed to silence undercover investigators who expose animal welfare abuses on factory farms. The legislation is a direct response to a series of shocking investigations by groups like the Humane Society, Mercy for Animals, and Compassion Over Killing that have led to plant closures, public outrage, and criminal charges against workers.

“Even the most sweeping ag-gag bills, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council model legislation, don’t explicitly target filming from a roadside. But Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Vermont are all considering bills similar to the Utah law right now.”

Renewable energy becomes a utility lifeline

“When North Carolina Republicans brought forth a bill pushed by the conservative lobbying group ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, to gut the state’s renewable energy standards, they figured they had a model piece of pro-business legislation that would sail through the legislature this year.

“But, as North American Windpower gleefully reported, it died in committee. Key to the story is the committee where it died — public utilities and energy.”

The Oil And Gas Industry’s Assault On Renewable Energy

A Bloomberg article released last week details how the oil and gas industry, through some self-described free market organizations that they fund, are trying to engineer a legislative massacre of these policies in more than a dozen states.

“The groups may sound familiar: American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is currently pushing legislation around the country that would mandate the teaching of climate change denial in public school systems, and The Heartland Institute, which ran a billboard campaign last year comparing global warming “admitters” to Osama bin Laden and Charles Manson. Both have long opposed sensible energy policies. And their funders will sound familiar, too: the oil, gas and coal industries and their owners like the Koch Brothers.”

A Movement Is Needed to Get Corporations to Disclose All Their Political Spending. Let’s Start It

“Among those pressuring companies to be more forthcoming is Rob McGarrah of the AFL-CIO’s Office of Investment. The union owns shares of stock in many companies, including Cigna, and is asking them to provide shareholders and the public with a more complete accounting of spending to influence public policy.

“McGarrah was unsuccessful in persuading Cigna to disclose “special assessments” on behalf of AHIP and other groups, so the AFL-CIO submitted a shareholder resolution that would compel the company to report indirect funding of lobbying through trade associations and tax-exempt organizations, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, which drafts “model legislation” to protect business interests.”

ALEC-Orchestrated Bill To Preempt Paid Sick Leave Passes Florida Senate

“But “preemption bills,” laws orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that override any efforts to implement paid sick days, are also gaining speed, with the latest passed by Florida’s state Senate on Friday. The bill, which had huge support from Disney World, Darden Restaurants (owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster), and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, would delay local government efforts to adopt paid sick leave policies.”

How to get to work on time in Russia (and more from In Other News)

“Prodded by the meat and poultry industries, state legislators nationwide are introducing laws making it harder for animal-welfare advocates to investigate cruelty and food-safety cases. Measures in Indiana, Arkansas and Pennsylvania, for example, would outlaw videotaping agricultural operations. Iowa already made it illegal to deny belonging to an animal-welfare organization when applying for a farm job. Other bills are pending in California, Nebraska and Tennessee. The force behind this legislative agenda, whose purpose, Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection for the Humane Society of the United States, insisted, “is to prevent any pattern of abuse from being documented,” is the American Legislative Exchange Council. It labels those who interfere with animal operations “terrorists” and titled the California bill the “Animal and Ecological Terrorist Act,” although an ALEC official admitted “Freedom to Farm Act” would’ve sounded better. (Associated Press)”

Governor Mary Fallin to Address Legislators from Across the United States

“OKLAHOMA CITY  —  Governor Mary Fallin will speak to hundreds of state legislators from across the country on Thursday at the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Spring Task Force Summit. The two day summit will be held this year at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

“Fallin, who was named a “Legislator of the Year” by ALEC while serving as a state representative, will discuss this year’s legislative session and highlight the success of pro-growth policies in Oklahoma.”

LETTER: ALEC too far right for these groups

“The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a group promoting far-right legislation. Its tax exempt status is currently challenged, as its sole purpose is to formulate legislation promoting extremely conservative points of view and helping the rich and powerful maintain their status.

“The South Dakota Legislative Board has voted to spend our tax dollars to pay for membership dues for all our state legislature’s members and all their expenses to attend ALEC meetings.”

ALEC related material published or distributed by ALEC…

National Center for Public Policy Research to Participate in Five Shareholder Meetings this Week, Bringing Total to 18 So Far for this Shareholder Meeting Season

“Washington, D.C. – The National Center for Public Policy Research will directly address five major U.S. corporations this week as part of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project, which calls major corporations to account for activities that undermine the free market and/or a free and prosperous United States.

“Activities of particular interest include 1) corporations engaging in cronyist practices that suck money from taxpayers; 2) corporations lobbying to expand the size of government; 3) corporations imposing expensive private regulatory regimes on suppliers, often for greenwashing purposes, in the name of “sustainability;” and 4) corporations caving in to ridiculous left-wing demands, for example, demands to shun the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

“The National Center also attends meetings to compliment CEOs who stand up for freedom and the free market.”