Bribery

Rick Snyder & the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Corporatist “Disaster Capitalism” on the Prowl in Michigan

From the Horace McGuffey Gazette

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is utilizing the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) crib notes, a recall offense. The “Nerd” Governor can’t make a move without employing ALEC models & policies and support from Michigan’s long history with ALEC and a long list of ALEC members

“…Lastly many, many areas of Michigan’s laws, rules and regulations are being “adjusted” at a furious pace to fit the whims of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, The Mackinac Center for Public Policy (spin-off of the national arch-conservative Heritage Foundation), and Americans for Prosperity (AFP) – heavily backed by the Koch Bros. and mega-wealthy families like Michigan’s own DeVos & Van Andel clans...

“…ALEC’s activities are very widespread and endemic to the lawmaking processes of state legislatures across the country, and for that reason, their activities have been accepted through ignorance of the secret and underlying purposes and objectives they promote.  The public finds it hard to believe such a group exists. But they do. Consider: “ALEC has approximately 2,000 legislative members representing all 50 states, as well as more than 85 members of Congress and 14 sitting or former Governors who are considered ‘ALEC alumni‘” (Source: WikipediaCMD and VLTP who has reported on ALEC in most levels of US Courts as well).

Read the full McGuffey blog article here

ALEC slips Exxon Fracking Loopholes Into New Ohio Law

From Nation of Change

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“Ohio is in the final stages of making an Exxon trojan horse on hydrofracking into state law, and it appears that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) connected Exxon’s lawyers with co-sponsors of Ohio Senate Bill 315: at least 33 of the 45 Ohio legislators who co-sponsored SB 315 are ALEC members, and language from portions of the state Senate bill is similar to ALEC’s “Disclosure of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Composition Act…

“…What’s most suspicious is that seven of the ten Ohio Senators co-sponsoring SB 315 are ALEC members, as are 26 of the 35 co-sponsoring Representatives.*

(VLTP Note: Doesn’t hurt that Ohio Governor Kasich is a former member of ALEC when legislation like this is introduced and pushed by an organization Kasich is friendly with.  Below statement is from ALEC’s “History” page on their website:

“Among those who were involved with ALEC in its formative years were: Robert Kasten and Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin; John Engler of Michigan; Terry Branstad of Iowa, and John Kasich of Ohio, all of whom moved on to become governors or members of Congress.” )

Read the full article here

Stand Against Fracking

NO EXCUSE FOR IGNORING ALEC–NY Times and Others. WHAT MIGHT THEY HAVE PREVENTED?

This media release stopped the NY Times (among others) from covering ALEC despite entreaties from many people investigating ALEC.

Heck, Bruce Fealk had an e-mail about ALEC returned to him by the NY Times as “deleted, unopened
The news media needs to be vigilant, not cowed by a press release (and whatever support it may have received).  Voter Suppression is a constitutional violation, and that alone should have raised a red flag to NY Times Editors.  But it didn’t.

Would we all be fighting to keep out civil rights?

Would Trayvon Martin be alive?

Contact: Raegan Weber

Phone: 202-742-8536

Email: rweber@alec.org

 Setting the record Straight – Much ado about nothing
By Ms. Raegan Weber, ALEC

Over the past several weeks, there has been great speculation, poor reporting, and gross misrepresentation of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) positions on pension reform, collective bargaining and Voter ID.  The erroneous claims have traveled through the blogosphere and grabbed the attention of mainstream media.  Unfortunately, due to little or no fact-checking, ALEC’s positions and activities have been misreported.  ALEC is setting the record straight.

With more than 2,000 members, ALEC is the nation’s largest, non-partisan, individual public-private membership association of state legislators.  ALEC’s legislative members are comprised of both Democrats and Republicans who share the same ideals.  ALEC does not coordinate with any political party.  ALEC is a state legislative organization with the goal of promoting Thomas Jefferson’s principles of limited government, free markets, and federalism through sound policy solutions.  This goal is shared by like-minded lawmakers across the United States.

ALEC provides an opportunity for its members to learn from each other and policy experts representing a variety of issue areas affecting our citizens and our economy.  This interaction enables legislators to learn best practices and successes from other states.  Legislators present, suggest and debate sound policies, which may be adopted as ALEC model legislation.  Legislators should have the best information possible when making policy decisions. Our policies and initiatives are public and we are proud to support our legislators as they carry out ALEC principles.  The complexity and diversity of ALEC’s public and private sector members logically suggest that there are differing opinions on almost every policy position.  ALEC is also pleased to provide an environment of education to help them find sensible policy solutions to today’s complex issues.

How does pension reform and collective bargaining fit in?  ALEC has been educating its members for years on sound budget practices; this includes pension reform and transparency in collective bargaining.  Unsustainable cost drivers threaten the financial solvency of the states.  ALEC encourages states to explore every option possible to balance budgets, including pension reform and utilizing new approaches for pension funding, such as defined benefit plans. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the U.S. Department of Labor, as of December 2010, state and local government employees received benefits that were 69 percent higher than those in the private sector.  Taxpayer dollars are currently subsidizing the majority of state public employee pensions and benefits (9 states have defined-contribution plans).  Defined-contribution 401(k) style plans allow employees to contribute as much or as little as they want while still receiving some support from the state.  They also give employees the opportunity to invest in what’s best for them, and if public employees change jobs or relocate, their funds are portable.

State legislators are entrusted with the enormous responsibility of appropriating citizens’ funds.  ALEC supports budget transparency in the proper use of taxpayer dollars.  When state employee unions collectively bargain with the people’s money, this should be a transparent process.  Citizens have the right to know where their money is going and how it is being used.

ALEC has a policy initiative on pension reform and balancing budgets. The Budget Reform Toolkit and Other Post Employee Benefits publications were both nationally announced and mailed to all our legislative members.  Rich States, Poor States is used by state legislators throughout the country to find sound, conservative, successful budgeting practices.  Each of these publications discusses pension reform.  Our policy initiatives, publications and press releases on these issues can all be found on ALEC’s website for anyone’s use.  These are hardly the actions of a secretive organization.

This brings the discussion to Voter ID.  ALEC recently received an inquiry from a liberal blogger asking only about our position on Voter ID.  Unfortunately, the “reporter” had his own agenda and chose to write a story with many false accusations and statements that had nothing to do with Voter ID.  ALEC supports citizens providing a photo ID when voting in order to reduce voter fraud.  A photo ID is required to rent a video from the store, so why not to vote?  Each election cycle, statistics show that convicted felons and even the deceased are still voting.  Showing a photo ID would help this immensely.  The model legislation that was posted with this story does not specifically address what states should use for ID.  ALEC leaves this to the decision to each state.  This information was omitted from the “article.”

ALEC does not have “a concerted national effort to stop people from voting.”  Citizens should exercise their right to vote.  The most disappointing aspect of this poorly reported story is the follow up stories from mainstream media.  Rachel Maddow of MSNBC chose to report that ALEC is behind a movement to limit people from voting.  A columnist from the National Journal also chose to write an editorial based on a liberal blogger’s misrepresentation of information.  Neither MSNBC nor the National Journal conducted any legitimate fact checking by going to the original source.  NPR has run similar stories regarding ALEC’s position on Voter ID, but the most egregious offense by NPR was the misrepresentation of ALEC’s positions on prison overcrowding and the nature of our organization.   ALEC will certainly be hesitant to accept any future interviews from these media sources. 

Accusations of ALEC secretly meeting with governors, ALEC running and coordinating ground campaigns against public employee unions, and ALEC wanting to eliminate public employee unions are first and foremost not true.  ALEC’s States and Nation Policy Summit coincided with newly-elected governors’ meetings at the White House in December, but there were no meetings between governors and ALEC staff on any policy.  If a governor’s policies fall under the Jeffersonian principles of limited government, free markets and federalism, and ALEC has policies similar to those being proposed, then ALEC proudly supports those policies.  ALEC does not have satellite offices.  We have 27 full-time employees that work in Washington, D.C.  ALEC has not sent out “ground troops” to Wisconsin.  ALEC is not coordinating a ground campaign on collective bargaining.

These wild accusations have caught the attention of the mainstream media.  Quite a few reporters from state and local media have called or emailed with an unfortunate biased agenda.  ALEC has been working with the New York Times and Wall Street Journal over the past couple of weeks to satisfy their inquiries.  Both nationally renowned, leading papers have decided after extensive research, interviews and fact checking that there is no story.  ALEC appreciates their fact-finding missions and will continue to enjoy good relationship with both newspapers.

ALEC legislators and ALEC employees are proud of our positions and policies.  ALEC is for effective and efficient use of taxpayer dollars with transparency in budgeting and collective bargaining.  ALEC is for public employees having flexible, manageable and sustainable pension and health plans.  ALEC is for maintaining integrity in our voting system. ALEC is proud to be the only state legislative organization that embraces the Jeffersonian principles of limited government, free markets and federalism with the policy solutions to support these ideals.

 # # #

Ms. Weber is the senior director for public affairs at ALEC.  She has been a professional communicator for nearly 14 years and was a public employee in the State of Georgia and in the federal government with the George W. Bush Administration.

 

Walmart Scrambles Lobbyists in Response to Mexico Bribery Report

After several years of relative calm, Walmart is once again in Capitol Hill’s cross hairs.

Despite Cummings and Waxman’s interest in an investigation, House Republicans have signaled that they have no interest in probing the matter.

Roll Call reports that Wal-Mart enlisted a cadre of K Streeters to stave off the investigation:

Walmart’s top D.C. lobbyist, Ivan Zapien, convened a meeting of his outside consultants today. Those who attended, according to a source familiar with the session, included Walmart’s former in-house Democratic lobbyist Kimberly Woodard, who now runs her own shop; GOP heavyweight Charlie Black of Prime Policy Group; Paul Brathwaite of the Podesta Group, and Capitol Counsel’s John Raffaelli and former Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.).

“The allegations that Walmart officials in Mexico may have broken U.S. laws by bribing officials to get their stores built faster raise serious concerns,” Cummings said in a statement. “But I am even more alarmed by reports that top company executives in the U.S. tried to cover up these abuses.

To read this insightful article, please click here.

Wal-Mart Deploys Lobbyist Who Used To Work For Congressman Cummings To Fight Cummings’ Investigation Of Bribery Scandal

By | Apr 25th 2012

This morning, Oversight Committee members Congressman Elijah Cummings and Henry Waxman announced that they will begin a probe of Wal-Mart’s lobbying. In a press release, Cummings announced that he has sent letters to Tom Donohue and Greg Steinhafel, leaders of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Retail Industry Leaders Association — the two Wal-Mart-funded fronts identified by Jilani as having worked to weaken the FCPA.

To read the rest of Lee Fang’s article, please click here

If Corporations Were People, Wal-Mart Would Be In Jail

By: Sarah Jones | April 23, 2012

The Depart of Justice is investigating Wal-Mart for possible violations of a federal law. To put this in perspective, in 2008, Siemens AG paid a $450 million fine for violating the FCPA (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act).

Apparently, money can buy more than elections – money can also buy “growth”. Read the following from the New York Times to remind yourself why we have things like oversight and laws and why corporations, if they are people, are psychopaths.

To read all of Sarah Jones’ article, please click here

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.