Big Tobacco

ALEC’s Christmas Gift to All…

ALEC’s Christmas Gift to All…

by Bob Sloan

Below are links to many articles related to ALEC’s pursuit of oppressing votes, grabbing up all the public education dollars they can and in general advancing the conservative agenda through continuing meme…also included are letters and article opposing this agenda.  Many are letters to editors, opinion pieces by citizens now alerted to the presence and pursuits of ALEC and the SPN cabal…

Just let the sun shine on in

Now the Koch brothers are coming after my solar panels.

I had solar panels installed on the roof of our Washington, D.C. home this year. My household took advantage of a generous tax incentive from the District government and a creative leasing deal offered by the solar panel seller.

Our electric bills fell by at least a third. When people make this choice, the regional electric company grows less pressured to spend money to expand generating capacity and the installation business creates good local jobs. Customers who use solar energy also reduce carbon emissions.

What’s not to love?

According to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative network better known as ALEC, our solar panels make us “free riders.” What?

ALEC Members won’t support democracy

It is fair to assume that America is host to an incredibly ignorant population who know very little about their government and how it affects their daily lives. That sad fact was exposed in a brilliant 2008 book revealing that only 20% of the population can name the three branches of government and 49% think a president has the authority to suspend the Constitution. However, the population’s ignorance of their government aside, it is highly probable that every American supports democracy; unless they are members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). To Americans aware of ALEC and its intent to create a corporate oligarchy and privatized government, it is not surprising that if ALEC members were asked to sign a pledge to support democracy, they would refuse, and that is precisely what happened in a little-reported story last week.

Last Thursday while ALEC was holding its annual meeting in Washington D.C., a group of working family activists, AFSCME, the Postal Workers union (APWU), AFT, and Jobs with Justice appeared at the meeting and asked ALEC members to sign a pledge “upholding the will of the people and support democracy, or leave their states.” The people at ALEC’s meeting did not sign the pledge and corporate-controlled media did not report the event because a revelation that an organization dedicated to serving corporate interests represented by the Republican Party refusing to support democracy would not play well with the public. In fact, for about 30 years ALEC has quietly been dismantling America’s democracy while hiding in the shadows, and it is just recently that a very tiny minority of the population even know ALEC exists.

(In the following article ALEC acolyte, Sterling Beard accuses Michigan’s AFL-CIO President, Karla Swift of plagiarizing material in an anti-ALEC op-ed.  As most know “Tool kits” are a standard ALEC tool used to put out information to their supporters and encouraging those individuals and organizations to use the material to advance the agenda on specific issues.  Now that the same tactic is being used by their adversaries, ALEC and the RW crowd want to cry foul and accuse folks of plagiarism.  

Here is one current example of ALEC’s use of a “Tool Kit”… “State Budget Reform Toolkit“which has been used and promoted by the Reason Foundation, Heartland Institute, promoted by various SPN or conservative sites such as “State Budget Solutions” and circulated in conservative media outlets such as Louisiana’s “Pelican Post“.  The PP article was written by Fergus Hodgson who is the capitol bureau reporter with the Pelican Institute for Public Policy. which is a state think tank member of SPN, which is a private sector member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The Pelican Institute also has ties to ALEC through its annual Policy Orientation for the Louisiana Legislature of which ALEC is a sponsor.[2] ALEC members have also sat on policy panels at the event.[3]

Though this “State Budget Reform Toolkit” was written by and for ALEC, I’ve yet to see any claims that the Pelican Institute, Heartland or Reason have been accused of plagiarizing ALEC’s materials.  This allegation is simply the “Pot calling the Kettle”…)

Michigan AFL-CIO President Plagiarizes Anti-ALEC Op-Ed from Left-Wing Group’s Materials

Michigan AFL-CIO president Karla Swift heavily plagiarized her recent op-ed against the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), lifting entire paragraphs from a “toolkit” created and distributed by the Center for Media and Democracy, a liberal nonprofit group that runs a website entirely devoted to trashing the group…

…Swift’s editorial lifts content from multiple sections of the anti-ALEC toolkit, copying several paragraphs verbatim. We have posted a copy of the toolkit here, with the plagiarized sections highlighted. In all, seven of the editorial’s twelve paragraphs are found in the toolkit. The editorial is part of the Detroit News’s “Labor Voices” feature, which has published pieces by Swift and three other labor leaders, including Teamsters president James Hoffa. The toolkit, dated December 2013, runs for 16 pages and encourages readers to “expose” the groups. 

Campaign finance: Support disclosure so we can follow the money

Yes, Montana Supreme Court Justice Mike McGrath, we need public disclosure of personal financial interest and those of their families.

Montana Supreme Court Justice James A. Rice, while a member of the Montana House of Representatives, was a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is a corporate bill mill; it is not just a lobby or a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wish list to benefit their bottom line.

A new study by the Center for Public Integrity shows that outside spending groups, including nonprofits that do not disclose their donors and state-level super PACs, are funneling more and more money into state Supreme Court races. Out-of-state influence likely helped decide recent races in North Carolina, Iowa and Mississippi.

Our View: Things go worse with Koch

Isaiah J. Poole, the author of an op-ed in Thursday’s Standard-Times, brought attention to a well-financed movement that aims to remove economic incentives to put solar panels on a homeowner’s roof. (“National View: Let the solar shine in.”)

It makes reference to a report from a British newspaper, The Guardian, which was covering a Washington, D.C., policy summit of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, in early December.

ALEC — which cleverly gets around lobbying rules by including right-wing members of Congress in its membership — “specializes in getting the right-wing agenda written into state laws,” according to Poole.

And according to The Guardian: “The group sponsored at least 77 energy bills in 34 states last year. The measures were aimed at opposing renewable energy standards, pushing through the Keystone XL pipeline project and barring oversight on fracking.”

Is Carbon Pricing a Diversion From the Real Story?

“One of the more solid tenets of Big Oil dogma has always been that carbon pricing, whether a straightforward tax or a market-based cap-and-trade system, is terrible and conservatives must stand in unison against it. Daily Caller reporter Michael Bastach, a former Koch Institute Intern, confirmed this recently: ‘This vote against a carbon tax in the (American Legislative Exchange Council) ALEC meeting in Chicago… comes after Republicans in both the House and the Senate voted unanimously against a carbon tax earlier this year’.”

Why Are the Franklin Center’s “Wisconsin Reporter” and “Watchdog.org” Attacking the John Doe?

The Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity (through its Wisconsin Reporter and Watchdog.org websites) has aggressively attacked the “John Doe” probe into possible campaign finance violations during Wisconsin’s 2011 and 2012 recall elections. Its outlets have also published new information about the apparent targets of the investigation, but they have omitted an important detail: Franklin Center has close ties to individuals and groups that may be caught up in the John Doe.

Franklin Center in Your StateThe only name associated with the investigation, Eric O’Keefe, helped launch the Franklin Center’s operations in 2009, and his Sam Adams Alliance group provided the majority of its startup budget; O’Keefe has spoken publicly about being subpoenaed in his capacity as director of Wisconsin Club for Growth. Franklin Center’sDirector of Special Projects John Connors, and the Executive Assistant to the President Claire Milbrandt, also have close ties to a group reportedly involved in the John Doe probe. Its former Director of Operations and General Counsel, James Skyles, worked with another group active in the Wisconsin recalls…

…Wisconsin Reporter launched its “Wisconsin’s Secret War” series in October, citing unnamed sources to reveal that Wisconsin Club for Growth, Americans for Prosperity, and Republican Governors Association had received subpoenas, and describing details about “after-hours visits to homes and offices” and prosecutors’ “demands for phone, email and other records.” Thanks to those unnamed sources, Wisconsin Reporter had a new platform, and used it to recast the John Doe investigation as “an abuse of prosecutorial powers” with “the apparent goal of bringing down Gov. Scott Walker.” The Walker campaign and 28 other groups also reportedly received subpoenas. 

Paid via Card, Workers Feel Sting of Fees

A growing number of American workers are confronting a frustrating predicament on payday: to get their wages, they must first pay a fee.

For these largely hourly workers, paper paychecks and even direct deposit have been replaced by prepaid cards issued by their employers. Employees can use these cards, which work like debit cards, at an A.T.M. to withdraw their pay…

…But in the overwhelming majority of cases, using the card involves a fee. And those fees can quickly add up: one provider, for example, charges $1.75 to make a withdrawal from most A.T.M.’s, $2.95 for a paper statement and $6 to replace a card. Some users even have to pay $7 inactivity fees for not using their cards.

These fees can take such a big bite out of paychecks that some employees end up making less than the minimum wage once the charges are taken into account, according to interviews with consumer lawyers, employees, and state and federal regulators.

This comes full circle to ALEC and it’s member, VISA.  As documents acquired and published by Common Cause show, ALEC “untabled” their model legislation titled “Electronic Pay Choice Act” in 2010 at the request of VISA representative, Paul Russinoff.  This legislation allows banks and credit card companies to realize huge profits off of fees generated by workers using these payroll debit cards….thus the reason VISA rushed to untable this potential model legislation at ALEC’s December 2010 meeting.  As the Times’ article demonstrates, the legislation is making its way across the country through the efforts of ALEC and their SPN partners in crime.

Once adopted by ALEC the bill passed the private sector unanimously, and passed the public sector with two dissenting votes. Visa also paid to sponsor a workshop at that meeting.  Similar legislation has become law in around a dozen states, according to some estimates.

ALEC’s payroll card legislation, Big banks attack low income workers

A growing number of American workers are no longer given paper paychecks, instead are receiving prepaid cards issued by their employers. Employees can use these cards at an A.T.M. or merchant to withdraw pay.  This may sound convenient but the workers must pay fees to access their pay, and those fees can add up and be very hard on people who earn minimum wage or just above.  Here is an example of such a payroll card in this case a “Citi Payroll card” offered byHome Depot, (https://corporate.homedepot.com/Associates/Pay/Documents/CitiPayrollCard.pdf)…

Burton (IN-ALEC) – Conflict of interest, Nah!

STATEHOUSE (Indianapolis) — The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has appointed State Representative Woody Burton (R-Whiteland) as co-chairman of the Financial Services Subcommittee. This subcommittee is an advisory body to the larger Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force.
ALEC works at the state level to advance the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise, limited government and federalism. This is done through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector and the general public.
“I feel honored to have been appointed to this position and I look forward to working with Paul Russinoff of Visa, who serves as the private sector co-chair,” said Rep. Burton. “This subcommittee is open to all members of the larger task force but typically, the members who are most interested and knowledgeable will attend.”
The Financial Services Subcommittee deals with matters related to the financial industry and insurance with the intent to design national legislation.Some of the issues they have covered in the past include the Dodd-Frank Act, homeowners’ insurance and mortgage licensing reciprocity. 
Rep. Burton is Chairman of the Financial Institutions Committee in the Indiana House of Representatives. He also serves on the Insurance Committee.  He introduces and sponsors the model legislation and another ALEC member moves to propose a resolution in support of “Payroll Cards:”
“Resolution in Support of Payroll Cards” – by Ms. Kate Viar, VISA
Motion to adopt the model resolution as amended; passed the public sector unanimously; passed the private sector unanimously; Resolution Passed.
and the model bill is adopted by the full ALEC membership and sent out to state after state…
Shortly after ALEC’s adoption of the Electronic Pay Choice Act we had it in Indiana.  One of the more insidious uses of this legislation in Indiana is that it has been applied to citizens receiving unemployment and similar state benefits.  Already receiving less than 70% of their former salaries, those on unemployment receive their benefits via VISA cards, with accounts set up through PNC bank.  Those without checking accounts must take their benefits via these cards – and pay the additional ATM and withdrawal fees to the bank and in many cases to the state for “transaction fees”.

After a political setback in NC, ALEC retools assault on renewable energy

After turning back a political assault on its groundbreaking renewable energy law, North Carolina could soon be a proving ground for a new strategy in the corporate-led war on clean energy — this one targeting the fast-growing number of homeowners installing solar panels.

Like the last attack on the state’s renewables program, this one is led by the American Legislative Exchange Council, an influential group that brings together corporations and mostly Republican state lawmakers to advocate for business-friendly legislation — activity that has drawn charges of illegal lobbyingby the nonprofit. ALEC, whose corporate members include major coal and electric companies, has long fought environmental regulations and initiatives that encourage a shift to cleaner energy sources.

Nowhere has its efforts been more concerted in recent years than in North Carolina, which in 2007 became the first state in the coal-dependent Southeast to require investor-owned electric utilities to purchase or generate an increasing amount of energy from renewable sources…

PSC Again Hikes Georgia Power Rates, Declines on Solar Tax

ATLANTA — The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) voted unanimously Tuesday, December 17, 2013, to approve a compromise agreement between Georgia Power and the PSC staff.

As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, Georgia Power’s original request was for a rate increase of 1.46 billion dollars.  The original request also included a newly proposed “solar tax,” a special tax on customers who have solar panels; as well as an increase in the guaranteed profit to Georgia Power.

The PSC agreement cut the amount of the increase by 573 million dollars.  Now, Georgia’s 2.4 million residential and business ratepayers will pay an increase of 873 million dollars over the next three years.

Enchanted Ad Outpaces FedEx’s Adoption of Eco-Friendly Vehicles (NOTE: Fed Ex, UPS and Verizon are longtime members of ALEC…)

The shipping giant’s “Enchanted Forest” ad came out at the end of 2011, a playful episode about its aspirational seamlessness with nature. How close are those cartoon images to the real world? Judging by the actual adoption of alternative fuel transportation, less than idyllic.

FedEx drew widespread praise a decade ago when it unveiled a hybrid electric delivery truck and said it could replace its 30,000 diesel-burning vehicles in 10 years. In its most recent annual report, the delivery giant said its fleet includes 360 hybrid-electric and 165 full-electric trucks, or less than 1 percent of the now-54,100 ground vehicles in its FedEx Express division.

Other major fleet operators, from UPS to Verizon, have slowed their hybrid-vehicle deployments as well. Total sales of medium- and heavy-duty trucks in North America powered by hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric technologies are projected to grow modestly from 1,800 vehicles in 2013 to nearly 13,000 in 2020, according to a report due out next month from Navigant Research…

League of Women voters to present program on ALEC, policy-making

The League of Women Voters of Central Yavapai County will present an educational opportunity on the American Legislative Exchange Council and Common Cause and their approaches to public policy making from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 4, at Las Fuentes Resort Village, 1035 Scott Drive in Prescott…

Southern Republicans Drag the Rest of the Nation Down by Doing the Kochs’ Bidding

Even though conservatives and right-wing extremists tout America as an exceptional nation, it is fairly common knowledge there is nothing about this country that is exceptional except it has more guns and gun deaths, highest incarceration rate, food insecurity on par with Indonesia, highest first day infant mortality rate, infrastructure behind every developed country in the world, 33rd in life expectancy, highest percentage of adult-onset diabetes, 2nd highest child poverty rate, and the highest proportion of low-wage workers in the developed world. It is true America is the richest nation on Earth, but by every other measure America is a third-world nation…

…This is the nation Republicans built with money from the Koch brothers’ and Americans for Prosperity, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, Club for Growth, and Wall Street that have spent the better part of two decades achieving the Koch brothers’ “vision of a transformed America.” The result of their transformation is increasing millions of Americans either wallowing in poverty or stuck in a downward spiral with no expectation of ever achieving anything more than “working poor” status with no more hope than not dying homeless. Sadly, a segment of the population, those most likely drowning in poverty and living in the Southern United States expedited the conservative’s plan by voting for Republicans because they promise to fight for religious freedom, guns, and preserving their European ancestors’ dream of a Christian wonderland…

Quest to restrict union fees targets three additional states

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Buoyed by recent successes in the Midwest, conservatives and business groups are targeting at least three additional states for new efforts that could weaken labor unions by ending their ability to collect mandatory bargaining fees.

The latest efforts are focused on Missouri, Ohio and Oregon and — in a new twist — could put the issue before voters in 2014 instead of relying on potentially reluctant governors to enact laws passed by state legislators…

…Supporters of such laws contend employees shouldn’t be forced to pay fees to a union to get or keep a job. But unions contend the fees are fair because federal law requires them to represent all employees in a bargaining unit regardless of whether they join the union.

Most state right-to-work laws were enacted in the 1940s and 1950s. But businesses and conservative lawmakers, working through groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, have mounted a new push as union membership has dwindled and the competition for jobs has intensified among states.

Indiana in 2012 became the first state in more than a decade to enact a right-to-work law. The movement’s biggest victory came later that year, when Republicans in the traditional union stronghold of Michigan followed suit even though thousands of union protesters thronged the Capitol…

The State Policy Network’s Cozy Relationship With Big Tobacco

The State Policy Network (SPN), a web of right-wing “think tanks” in every state across the country, has close ties with the tobacco industry. When tobacco companies like Reynolds American or Altria/Philip Morris want to avoid tobacco taxes and health regulations, reports by SPN groups in many states can help inspire local resistance.

SPN, its member affiliates, and SPN-related entities such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Heritage Foundation, and the Cato Institute,  continued to receive funding from the tobacco industry that has continued through at least 2012, according to Altria/Phillip Morris documentsThe Nation journalist Lee Fang previously reported that SPN relied on funding from the tobacco industry throughout the 1990s, and in return assisted the tobacco industry “in packaging its resistance to tobacco taxes and health regulations as part of a ‘freedom agenda’ for conservatives.”

During SPN President Tracie Sharp’s tenure at the Cascade Policy Institute (CPI, anSPN affiliate) from 1991 to 1999, Philip Morris state lobbyists worked hand-in-handwith CPI to oppose tobacco taxes…

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

 

Richard Fink: The Koch Brothers’ Big Tobacco Man Behind the Kochtopus Curtain

Richard Fink has long been one of the Koch Brothers’ inner circle, playing the role of both political strategist and close confidante.
Richard FinkSome say the Koch Empire wouldn’t have been nearly as successful without Fink. Without him and his ideas, what is now pejoratively known as the “Kochtopus” probably would not have branched so far into research or political advocacy.
kochtopusBut relatively few people have heard of Richard Fink. And even fewer know of his connections to Big Tobacco – connections which may have influenced the creation and actions of Koch-funded front groups for decades to come.

With the Kochs’ support, Fink established the Mercatus Center in 1980, and then co-founded Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) in 1984, where he served as President and CEO. Later, Fink helped found Americans for Prosperity to succeed CSE in 2004.

Fink sits on the board of the Institute for Humane Studies and is the former President of two Koch Family Foundations. Further, he has served as the Executive Vice-President of Koch Industries since 1989.

The Koch Brothers are best known as a key funder behind the climate denial machine and for their political attacks on President Barack Obama, as Jane Mayer exposed in her must-read New Yorker article.

The Kochs have donated over $25 million to front groups that attack climate science, create doubt and confusion among the public, and otherwise delay accountability for polluters.

Americans for Prosperity has campaigned against efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and amplified the “Climategate” attack on scientists, calling global warming the “biggest hoax the world has ever seen.”

But the Koch front groups’ involvement in the tobacco industry has gone largely unreported.

In 1999, the major tobacco companies were accused of a mass conspiracy to deceive the public about the dangers of smoking. The United States Department of Justice filed a racketeering lawsuit against major cigarette manufacturers, and sought $280 billion in penalties.

To combat this, Big Tobacco called on its allies for support – including the Mercatus Center and Citizens for a Sound Economy – both created by Richard Fink.

THE MOBILIZATION UNIVERSE

In a document called “Mobilization Universe,” as seen on the Tobacco Archives, Philip Morris laid out a plan to call on its allies. The goal: avert White House filing of the federal suit.

Its plan was to leverage third-party relationships to “oppose DOJ appropriations request for federal suit task force, oppose federal legislation enabling cause of action against the industry, and persuade the Administration and Senate and House Democrats of the political liability in a federal suit.”

Philip Morris laid out its key targets and key message points, examples of which include “Assumption of risk,” “Money grab,” and “Bad for Gore and Senate and House Democrats in 2000.” The document calls for third-party surrogates to write op-eds, LTEs and editorials, give speeches or testimonies, create policy reports, join coalitions, and provide access to policymakers, to name several.

CSE and the Mercatus Center were documented as allies several years before that, as well. In 1991, both CSE and Mercatus were part of a portfolio of organizations Philip Morris had cultivated to support its interests during a federal suit. Many other Koch-funded organizations were also included in this list, including the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation.

A HISTORY OF ALLIANCE

For several years, Fink acted on behalf of Big Tobacco using tactics laid out in their mobilization strategy – dating back from 1985, when he wrote federal representatives urging them to eliminate the US Tobacco Program. In a hand-signed letter, he wrote:

“Dear Representative: On behalf of the 220,000 members of Citizens for a Sound Economy, I urge you to consider the heavy costs of the U.S. tobacco program, and the enormous benefits to consumers and taxpayers which would result from the elimination of that program.”

The elimination of the tobacco tax bill would have lined the pockets of Big Tobacco CEOs, with less taxes and easier access for farmers to grow tobacco. Fink aligned not only himself but the entire membership of CSE with the interests of Big Tobacco.

In 1988, Fink wrote to the Surgeon General to express concern about the Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health’s inquiries into the subject of tobacco and U.S. trade policy. He warned that it would be unwise to suggest any foreign trade barriers, ending, “we hope that you will keep these thoughts in mind as your department discusses U.S. trade policy toward tobacco.” This letter was tracked down by the Checks & Balances Project in the Tobacco Archives, with an addendum from Samuel Chilcote – President of The Tobacco Institute – urging others to follow Fink’s lead and support.

For Fink’s efforts, Chilcote thanked Fink in a hand-signed letter on behalf of the tobacco industry, writing, “When an advisory body such as the Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health ventures into the field of U.S. trade policy, it is vitally important that the public record be balanced by the sound economic views and sensible business judgments that you provided.”

A LEGACY OF LOBBYING

In 1988, Fink testified on behalf of CSE to the National Economic Commission, urging them to avoid tax increases – increases that would have negatively impacted Big Tobacco’s profits.

Under Fink’s guidance, CSE participated in coalitions and partnered with other tobacco front groups, honing the dirty public relations tactics employed today by the Kochtopus Empire to delay action on combating climate change.

CSE joined the “Coalition for Fiscal Restraint” (COFIRE) in 1988, along with Koch Industries and Philip Morris. This is the only coalition in which Koch Industries represented itself as a corporation, rather than through its myriad front groups.

CSE also took part in “Get Government Off Our Back,” the front group created in 1994 by RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company to fight federal regulation of the tobacco industry. Its involvement in this group was kept in strict confidence until eventually made public via the Tobacco Archives. During this time, CSE was funded to the tune of at least $400,000 by the tobacco industry for its efforts to limit government regulation.

In 1998, CSE lobbied against California’s Proposition 10, an amendment to raise tobacco taxes in the Sunshine State. Members of CSE wrote letters to legislators and put forth a pledge to vote no. Ultimately, the effort “went up in smoke” and Prop 10 passed.

In 2004, Citizens for a Sound Economy split into two groups, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and FreedomWorks.

Richard Fink continued to lead Americans for Prosperity as President, and the tobacco lobbying efforts continue under the smoke of a new banner.

The most recent AFP pro-tobacco effort occurred this past summer, when it campaigned to oppose CA’s Proposition 29. If Prop 29 had passed, it would have increased tobacco taxes and directed the money raised from taxes towards cancer research – insidious given the Koch Brothers’ support for cancer research at places like MIT.

AFP, along with the tobacco industry, spent around $40 million to defeat Prop 29, mostly on anti-Prop 29 television ads.  During that campaign, AFP was also part of a broader coalition of tobacco and anti-tax groups. According to maplight.com, Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds bankrolled almost the entire campaign.

The arguments made against Prop 29 were very similar to those made by Citizens for a Sound Economy in 1998 when it unsuccessfully campaigned against CA Prop 10.

This was not AFP’s first attempt to shill for Big Tobacco.

In 2006 AFP campaigned to oppose tobacco tax increases in several different states – South Dakota, Texas, Kansas, and Indiana. For their work in South Dakota, AFP received money from US Smokeless Tobacco, Retail Tobacco Dealers of America, and Tobacco Warehouse of Rapid City. It also opposed taxes in Texas, Kansas, and Indiana. The following year, in 2007, AFP campaigned to oppose Texas’ smoking ban in indoor workplaces.

Finally, in 2009, AFP and Philip Morris were both asked to react to Virginia’s smoking ban, in an email from Karen Corriere of Altria Group, Inc. (the parent company of Philip Morris). Unsurprisingly, both voiced their opposition quickly. Americans for Prosperity reacted in full, hiring a company to make tens of thousands of calls to the offices of Virginia legislators, pressuring them to vote against the ban.

FISCAL TIES TO BIG TOBACCO

Throughout the years, the alliances were tied together in one of the most politically influential ways – money. The following is just a sample Big Tobacco’s money trail:

  • In 1987, Roger Ream – Vice President of CSE – wrote to the Tobacco Institute asking for funding. Given their alliance, it is likely they achieved their goal.
  • For its participation in the “Get Government Off Our Backs” (GGOOB) campaign, CSE received $400,000 in 1994 from RJ Reynolds and other tobacco corporations.
  • In 1996, CSE requested a funding increase of $500,000 from Philip Morris. Due to the handwritten “OK $500,000” at the top of the letter, this was almost definitely approved.
  • In 1999, Beth Stevens of CSE wrote to Kirk Blalock of Philip Morris requesting $100,000 in funds to support their efforts “to fight increased government spending, taxes, and regulation.”
  • In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, the Mercatus Center received public policy grants from Phillip Morris: $10,000 in 1999, and $20,000 in 2000. CSE received a total of $520,000 in 1999.
  • In 2000, in a memo to Philip Morris, CSE requested two million dollars to lead the opposition against tax increases and a Medicare suit to fund “big government” initiatives. The plan: “CSE will develop and run print, radio, and television advertising inside the Beltway and in targeted states. They will generate letters and phone calls to Congress from constituents. CSE will also educate Members of Congress and their staffs by preparing and distributing policy papers, conducting congressional education events, and meeting directly with offices.”

HOW DOES FINK TIE INTO ALL THIS?

Richard Fink first formed his alliance with Big Tobacco in 1985 when he urged legislators to eliminate the Tobacco program. But his value to the tobacco industry only increased with time, much like Dick Armey’s did at FreedomWorks.

As Fink gained more influence and power, his relationship with the tobacco industry tightened. When asking the Tobacco Institute for funding, Roger Ream of CSE wrote: “Recently, our president, Richard H. Fink, was appointed to the Consumer Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve and to the Department of Transportation’s Amtrak Privatization Commission. This further enhances CSE’s credibility and effectiveness on these issues.”

From the beginning, Fink’s position in the government was used as a selling point to earn funding support from Big Tobacco, exemplifying CSE’s ability to reduce taxes and fight government regulation.

Richard Fink came to the Koch brothers in 1977 to urge them to turn their libertarian ideals and love of “free markets” into political advocacy. In 2009, he advised them to do everything in their power to change the course of the 2012 election.

The Koch Brothers and their allies have funded attacks on climate science, attacked clean energy and stifled the green debate via an army of front groups. Lo and behold, they also worked with Big Tobacco to stop common-sense regulations and public health measures on smoking. In fact, fighting the tobacco file helped them to hone the playbook they would continue to use to fight against accountability for polluting the atmosphere, harming their workers and fenceline communities, and subverting participatory democracy.

Just as the severe health risks of tobacco are no longer up for debate, neither should be the reality of climate change, though the “Merchants of Doubt” shilling for a killing have – in a self-serving manner – maintained a façade of “controversy” over the issue for decades.

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This article is posted at The Checks and Balances Project  (Holding government officials, lobbyists and corporate management accountable to the public) and may be seen at http://checksandbalancesproject.org/2013/01/31/richard-fink-the-koch-brothers-big-tobacco-man-behind-the-kochtopus-curtain/

 

A Lot of White Space: Firms Drop Off ALEC’s Meeting Brochure

Very significant results of the ongoing campaign to make ALEC a toxic relationship for its corporate members.  Reported on by Lisa Graves of CMD and re-posted hereApparent among all of the excellent information she has provided, is the emergence of the State Policy Network (SPN) as perhaps the “heir apparent” to ALEC?  To find out a lot more about SPN, I refer you to Sourcewatch’s report on SPN’s finances, membership, and goals, which you can read by clicking here.
######                             

…last year’s conference was filled with favorable press coverage and bankrolled by at least 82 private sector corporations were convention underwriters.

This year, only 36 corporations were willing to have their logos listed as paying for ALEC’s schmooze and booze affair. Not all 46 of those missing corporations have left ALEC, but dozens have fled the sunshine that CMD and other investigative journalists, advocates, and concerned citizens across the country have focused on ALEC and the power it has given to corporations to try to rewrite hundreds of laws across the United States.