Cato Foundation

The World Trade in International Corruption – ALEC International

The World Trade in International Corruption – ALEC International

‘If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich’
______________________________________________

ALEC International

_______________________________________________________________

advertisement:

After developing relationships over the past decade, XXX is able to offer the brightest and best activists in XXXX the chance to intern with the following organisations:

The Leadership Institute

The Heritage Foundation

The Young America’s Foundation

The Jesse Helms Center

The Competitive Enterprise Institute

The Independent Women’s Forum

The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute

The Weekly Standard
_____________________________________________________________

Maybe you recognise the organisation that makes the above claim.  Maybe it’s operating in your State, working with your Senators, Governors and Judges.  Let’s have a look at one of the other claims they make:
______________________________________________________________

advertisement:

The XXXX is a non-partisan, not-for-profit educational, research and training organisation that promotes conservatism in schools, colleges and universities.

XXX identifies, trains, mentors and places philosophically sound activists in politics, academia and the media.
____________________________________________________________

When I see statements such as this I ask myself what would happen if, for example, a Trade Union or a left-wing organisation were to openly state that they are ‘placing philosophically sound activists’ into positions of authority.

I am not an American citizen nor a US resident but the organisation above, and many others like it, are what initially got me interested in keeping an eye on ALEC, Heritage, Cato, the Kochs etc. I will let the organisation introduce itself in its own words:
______________________________________________________________

young britons foundation logoThe Young Britons’ Foundation was entirely inspired by the success, drive and spirit of the American conservative movement.

First introduced to organisations such as the American Conservative Union, the Young America’s Foundation, the Leadership Institute, Collegiate Network and the Heritage Foundation at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), it was clear to co-founder Donal Blaney and Greg Smith that Britain was behind in the training and development of younger political activists.
______________________________________________________________

Yes, it’s a British organisation with extremely strong links to the Conservative Party, the party that Mrs Thatcher used to lead.

Having established the link between this UK organisation and US conservative groups I will now move on to establishing an explicit link between this organisation and ALEC.
______________________________________________________________

HANNAN DanielDaniel Hannan, President (president@ybf.org)

Daniel Hannan is the President of the Young Britons’ Foundation and has recently been ranked tenth by The Daily Telegraph in its annual poll of most influential centre-right figures in Britain.

In 1999, Dan was elected to the European Parliament and has represented the South-East since that time.
______________________________________________________________

Dan Hannan is, as they state, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and before I continue I think it may be of benefit to explain a little about the way Europe works.

The European Parliament is similar in some ways to the US Federal Government with MEPs elected by voters in 27 different nations including Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland and the UK. The number of MEPs elected in each country is based on population and, together with the Council of Ministers and the European Commission, the Parliament, although having limited powers, is one of the three power bases within the EU.

Although stating that MEPs have limited powers their influence should not be under-estimated as the EU is the world’s biggest free trade area covering some 500 million people in 27 countries and the European Union and the United States have the largest bilateral trade relationship in the world.
Dan Hannan as a Conservative Party MEP sits with like-minded politicians in a Parliamentary group, the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, set up by the leader of the Conservative Party and current Prime Minister, David Cameron. It should be noted that the UK Conservatives are the only mainstream ‘centre right’ party in the EU to take part in this group.

Most of the MEPs in the following list are members of the ECR:
______________________________________________________________

Richard Ashworth – British ConservativeRichard Ashworth

Committee on Budgets

Delegation for relations with Australia and New Zealand

Adam BielanAdam Bielan –                  POLAND

Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

Delegation for relations with the countries of Southeast Asia and the    Association of  Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Martin Callanan – British Conservative, Chair of the ECRMartin Callanan

Conference of Presidents

Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (Africa Caribbean Pacific – European Union)

 

Philip ClaeysPhilip Claeys – BELGIUM

Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

Delegation for relations with the countries of Southeast Asia and the Association of  Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

 

Niranjan Deva  – British ConservativeNirj Deva

Committee on Development

Subcommittee on Human Rights

Delegation for relations with the countries of South Asia

 

Christofer FjellnerChristofer Fjellner – SWEDEN

Committee on International Trade

Delegation for relations with Belarus

Delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly

 

Daniel Hannan  – British ConservativeHANNAN Daniel

Committee on Constitutional Affairs

Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly

 

Roger HELMERRoger Helmer  – UK Independence Party (formerly British Conservative)

Committee on Employment and Social Affairs

Committee on Petitions

Delegation for relations with the Korean Peninsula

Syed Kamall – British ConservativeSyed Kamall

Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs

 

Michal Tomaz KaminskiMichal Kaminski –  POLAND

Committee on Development

Delegation for relations with the Mercosur countries

Delegation to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly

Miroslaw Piotrowski –  POLANDMiroslaw Piotrowski

Committee on Foreign Affairs

Delegation for relations with Japan

 

Ivo StrejcekIvo STREJCEK – Czech Republic

Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs

Delegation for relations with the People’s Republic of China

 

Robert Sturdy – British ConservativeRobert Sturdy

Committee on International Trade

Delegation to the Cariforum — EU Parliamentary Committee

Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly

 

Konrad SZYMANSKI – POLANDKonrad Szymanski

Committee on Industry, Research and Energy

Delegation to the EU-Armenia, EU-Azerbaijan and EU-Georgia Parliamentary Cooperation                                            Committees

Delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly
______________________________________________________________

The reasons for listing the above? They are ALL members of ALEC and NONE of them declared this in their Register of Interests last year despite the Code of Conduct stating, extremely clearly:
______________________________________________________________

2. The declaration of financial interests shall contain the following information, which shall be provided in a precise manner:

(d) membership of any boards or committees of any companies, non-governmental organisations, associations or other bodies established in law, or any other relevant outside activity that the Member undertakes, whether the membership or activity in question is remunerated or unremunerated,

(g) any support, whether financial or in terms of staff or material, additional to that provided by Parliament and granted to the Member in connection with his or her political activities by third parties, whose identity shall be disclosed,

(h) any other financial interests which might influence the performance of the Member’s duties.
______________________________________________________________

Due to their failure to register their membership of ALEC, a situation since remedied by SOME of them, a formal complaint was made to Martin Schulz the President of the Parliament. Several months on there has been no response to the complaint.

You must admit that having these ALEC members inside European Parliamentary Committees able to pass information to US colleagues within hours of meetings taking place and long before decisions are reached is potentially a pretty useful tool for lobbyists.

In addition to the MEPs listed there are two members of the British Parliament who are, or were, ALEC members.

Chris Heaton-Harris is the Member of Parliament for Daventry and was, prior to his election in 2010, an MEP and is a close colleague of Roger Helmer.

Liam Fox was a member of ALEC until at least June 2011 which overlaps his period as British Secretary of State for Defence, a position he held from May 2010 until October 2011.

**********************************************************************
This article is an introduction to a series that I hope, over the coming period, to contribute at VLTP.  In coming pieces I hope to look in more detail at the activities of ALEC, ALEC members and affiliated groups in Europe and to expose the influence being exerted by legislators from Europe and elsewhere on US policy making.

If there are any comments or questions arising I will be more than happy to attempt to respond to them.

– na-Saighneain

 

The na-Saighneain Definition of Corruption :

If you are paid by the public to carry out a public duty and receive money from any other source, WHETHER YOU DECLARE IT OR NOT, in order to do those duties, or to do them better, or to carry them out for the benefit of some to the detriment of others – YOU ARE CORRUPT.

If you carry out public duties but fail, without good cause, to explain your work by hiding behind, for example, ‘Commercial Confidentiality’ we will treat you as if you are corrupt – you are responsible to us not vice versa!

If you pay public servants to carry out work in your behalf for which they are already in receipt of public money – YOU ARE CORRUPT.

If you are a political party and you refuse to disclose the name of your donors and the amount of their donations – YOU ARE CORRUPT.

If you are a THINK TANK or LOBBYIST  seeking to influence Public Policy without declaring the source of your funds or the amount we will treat you and those donating such funds as corrupt.

If you claim charitable status whilst receiving anonymous donations we not only consider you corrupt but thieves.

If you receive contracts paid for through public funding and fail to declare the details of the contract, without good reason, we will treat you as if you are corrupt, if you any engage in any of the other activities listed YOU ARE CORRUPT.

If you are working in a legislative, judicial, quasi-judicial or executive role and de not remove yourself from such a role in which you have personal interests YOU ARE CORRUPT. In the recent debate on the National Health Service in England OVER 200 OF THOSE WHO VOTED HAD A FINANCIAL INTEREST!

If you work in the media and use the special status accorded the press and knowingly mislead the public because of another position you hold YOU ARE CORRUPT.

If you are a member of a political organisation and have knowingly misled or misrepresented, putting partisanship above truth – YOU ARE CORRUPT.

We know these are extreme standards which is why we do not wish to place ourselves in a position where we would be in breach of our own standards by, for example receiving money from those whom we may wish to criticise or whom others may think we should be criticising.

We WILL NOT censor any information but we WILL do our best to correct any errors, acknowledge sources (except where they request anonymity). We WILL publish, in full, all correspondence from official sources (we may redact personal information). We WILL NOT allow IP, Copyright and other similar legislation to be used to prevent us from publishing anything whatsoever.

We WILL respect anonymity 100% where it is requested and agreed to in advance.

We will NEVER publish anything we receive from third parties unless we can corroborate it to our satisfaction.

Where we are criticised for failing to meet the high standards we are trying to set for others we WILL publish the criticism along with any procedures we adopt to prevent such failures on our part.

na-Saighneain

What the Defections from ALEC Really Mean

You should all be aware of the group Color of Change, mentioned in conjunction with the ALEC corporate defectors along with Common Cause and other large national public interest groups sharing in the limelight.

What Color of Change did was to go to Coca Cola, for example, and say “we can’t have you selling your products in our black neighborhoods if you are going to be involved in legislation like Voter ID laws which prevent a lot of black people from voting”.  So Coke, not wanting to be shut out of black markets everywhere, says “oh my.  We didn’t know ALEC was writing legislation like that.  We quit them.”

Well, don’t believe for a second that Coca Cola participated in ALEC meetings and never heard a word about Voter ID laws or immigration laws, or women’s health laws, or any number of other radical right wing model legislation.  I can’t prove this because Coca Cola’s PR department is not taking questions on this subject and I wasn’t allowed into any of the ALEC meetings.  But none of the photos and videos we have of Coca Cola members at ALEC meetings—in social situations or in task force meetings–show them wearing blinders and ear plugs. 

So what exactly did Coca Cola do to get their “get out of jail free card” from Color of Change, MSNBC and Current TV commentators, big national public interest groups like Common Cause, and the written press?

Are they making any sort of amends for the ALEC written model legislation they voted for?  No. 

Are they making any sort of restitution to those directly hurt by model legislation that ALEC passed? No.

Did they make any apologies for what they did? No. 

Are they encouraging legislatures not to pass these hateful bills?  No. 

Are they now doing anything to help black voters register to vote?  Again, No.

Coca Cola issued a statement that “Our involvement with ALEC was focused on efforts to oppose discriminatory food and beverage taxes, not on issues that have no direct bearing on our business.”

So apparently Coke’s involvement in pay-to-play influence peddling is okay.  What do you say about that Jack Abramoff?

Granted, this is the first crack in the wall of silence that has enveloped ALEC for more than 35 years, and that is very significant in and of itself.  We all sincerely hope that it leads to more.  But I’m not quite sure why many are touting these corporate defections as victories—especially because, and you’re not going to like this, because these corporations that are no longer bankrolling ALEC continue to engage in stealth lobbying through other Cabal members.   CSG, The Council of State Governments is such an organization.  This group, like ALEC, is a bill mill, in many cases writing very similar model legislation to that which ALEC writes.   Truthout has done some excellent reporting on CSG and how they are picking up the baton on ALEC legislation.

Coca Cola, which is being used as an example here but which is not alone among the defectors, belongs to CSG, as Truthout has reported

Then, there is the National Center for Public Policy Research, as recently identified by Rachel Maddow.  You have read here and elsewhere–like PR Watch–that because of the public outcry over the Stand Your Ground legislation and the murder of Trayvon Martin, ALEC has shut down the Task Force that wrote that legislation—their Public Safety and Elections task force.  Well, don’t get suckered in by the incredible PR of the Cabal.  Here is the lead on a press release by NCCPR:

New Voter Identification Task Force Announced

Voter ID Project Created in Response to Leftists’ Claim that Ten Corporations Joined Them in Successful Effort to Pressure ALEC to Stop Supporting Voter Integrity

Washington, D.C. The National Center for Public Policy Research today announced the formation of a “Voter Identification Task Force,” intended to continue the excellent work of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in promoting measures to enhance integrity in voting.

The Cabal is extremely well funded and prepared, so as ALEC steps away from a key radical right wing political issue, up pop its replacements, organizations which Sourcewatch  has identified and which we at VLTP continue to research.  The National Center for Public Policy Research.  Or the Council for State Governments.  Or the Heartland Institute.  Or The Heritage Foundation.  Or the Mont Pelerin Society—trust me, you don’t want to know about the philosophy and the international reach of this uber conservative group.  Or the State Policy Network.  Or the Center for Civic Innovation.  Or the Cato Foundation.  And there are many more.  The cabal is financially and organizationally prepared to play whack-a-mole all day long with those of us who are trying to uncover it.  And you’ve got to give them a lot of credit for the way they frame everything they do, just listen to how noble these group names sound—why don’t Democrats learn from this? 

So, to come full circle with my argument, just what do these defections from ALEC really mean?