Center for Media and Democracy

117 ALEC Members Voted Out in 2012

by Rebekah Wilce — November 20, 2012 – for CMD (Center for Media and Democracy) – Project: ALEC Exposed

In primary and general elections in 2012 and recall elections in 2011 and 2012, a total of 117 members and alumni of the American Legislative Exchange Council [5] (ALEC) were voted out of office, according to research and analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), ColorOfChange, and others. More →

ALEC Wins and Defeats in 2012 State Races

“The Center for Media and Democracy reports several ballot measures backed by the extremist American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) went down to defeat yesterday.

Most notable was in Michigan, where voters overturned the state’s emergency manager law. Known as “financial martial law,” it allowed Gov. Rick Snyder (R) to declare a “financial emergency” in a city or school district and appoint a manager with broad powers, including the ability to fire local elected officials, break contracts, seize and sell assets, eliminate services and even eliminate whole cities or school districts without any public input.

In Minnesota, voters defeated an ALEC-designed voter suppression/ID initiative and voters in Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Montana and Wyoming defeated ALEC-inspired measures to block parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare” as the GOP has named it).

Marriage equality ballot measures won approval in Maine, Maryland and Washington State, while a ban on gay marriage was defeated in Minnesota.

Proposal 2 in Michigan, which would have made permanent collective bargaining rights in the state Constitution, failed.

In state legislative races, Democrats took back control of the Colorado House, the New Hampshire House, the New York Senate, the Maine House and Senate, the Minnesota House and Senate and the Oregon House.’

Read the full article and all the ALEC wins and defeats here

NOT a Rumor – Bank of America Quits ALEC

Yesterday we posted a rumor that Bank of America was quitting ALEC, as confirmed by Walden Management.  Turns out, it was not a rumor

Today we learn Bank of America dropped its membership in ALEC, the secretive corporate lobbying group that writes much of the anti-worker legislation passed in state legislatures these days.

A Bank of America representative confirmed the company will not renew its membership in ALEC due to budgetary reasons. The bank was responding to investor letters asking that it dump ALEC.

To read the rest of Whoa! Bank of America Cuts Ties to ALEC from Teamster Nation, please click here

2012 – An Awakening Electorate and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

Op-Ed by Exec. Dir. Bob Sloan

As pressure has been brought to bear upon the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) over the past couple of years, many of their far-right conservative initiatives were brought into the light along with that organization’s secretive memberships and vast influence.

Articles began surfacing that advised voters of ALEC’s involvement in crafting and urging passage of key state legislation designed to suppress voter rights, tort reform (to limit consumer protections) and on social issues involving abortion, separation of church and state, privatization of public schools, utilities and abolishing or repealing the Affordable Care Act.  They have written and disseminated labor legislation to end collective bargaining, reduce Union and worker wages and other legislation beneficial to their corporate members.

Most Americans were completely unaware of ALEC from it’s conception in 1973…and those who did know ALEC existed, were uninformed as to what ALEC actually did.  All of that changed in May 2011 when hundreds of ALEC’s documents were turned over  to the Nation Magazine and the Center for Media and Democracy by a concerned whistleblower.  In July CMD and the Nation launched “ALEC Exposed” a joint project to fully expose ALEC to the public.  When the site went public, there was less than 18 months remaining until the 2012 election, requiring those of us knowledgeable about ALEC to work quickly to make voters fully aware of ALEC.

Other organizations and groups joined CMD in helping to pull ALEC from the dark shadows and expose their activities to all Americans. Groups such as Common Cause, Color of Change, PFAW, Progress Now, Democracy Now and Walden Asset Management  joined with CMD in an effort of enlightening everyone about ALEC – and demonstrating why their activities were so dangerous to democracy and the very fabric of our Nation.  Jointly they issued state reports identifying ALEC state legislative members, the legislation they were responsible for writing and passing in each state.  They issued reports on the corporate members of ALEC that funded and co-wrote free market legislation for the state members to introduce and pass in each state.

Here at VLTP we launched in-depth reports informing of ALEC’s involvement at the federal level, the 100 + ALEC alumni serving in congress and their exporting of a conservative American agenda to foreign countries through the formation of a UK based affiliate, the Atlantic Bridge Charity and an ALEC International Relations “Task Force”.

With the final results we learned that many of our efforts were successful.  Voters in Wisconsin were informed of the long and close relationship between ALEC and former Governor and Senator Tommy Thompson and defeated him at the polls, choosing Tammy Baldwin instead.  Similarly in Virginia, ALEC’s alum and former US Senator and Governor, George Allen was exposed and then beaten at the polls by former VA Governor Tim Kaine.  This was important as Allen was the first “ALEC Federal Forum Task Force” Co-Chair in 2005-06.

Education

An additional plus was the defeat of Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett.  Bennett has been criss-crossing the US advocating and lobbying for ALEC’s educational legislation and policies.  He is particularly fond of Common Core Standards and has pursued passage of that nationally.

Bennett presented the pro-Common Core case to the board of ALEC .   Dr. Bennett is also on the Board of Directors of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), one of the two trade associations managing the Common Core Standards (along with the National Governors Association).  Additionally, he is the Chairman of Chiefs for Change, an initiative of Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education.  The Foundation for Excellence in Education and CCSSO have received $1,000,000 and $70,000,000, respectively, from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the primary force financing and pushing the Common Core.

Bennett was defeated by a Democrat who issued statements Tuesday night that two immediate reforms she will make in Indiana is the repeal of Common Core and ensuring that public money is used to fund public schools.  This represents a 180 degree change from what this state has been subjected to under Bennett.

In a win for labor and education, voters in Idaho rejected two referenda to uphold 2011 education laws that had limited collective bargaining for teachers. Proposition 1 to limit teacher contracts failed, with 43 percent voting for and 57 percent against. Proposition 2 also failed, with 42 percent voting for and 58 percent against.

Unfortunately Georgia voters weighed in on a proposal to give the state legislature the right to create public charter schools. The measure passed, with 58.5 percent voting for and 41.5 percent voting against.  An ALEC win.

Washington State voted on a proposition to allow the creation of 40 charter schools in the next five years. It has been called the “billionaires initiative” because its signature drive was primarily funded by Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and the parents of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. The measure passed, with 51.24 percent voting for and 48.76 percent against. Another ALEC win.

In Idaho teachers opposed Propositions 1, 2 and 3 – in an effort to overturn the so-called “Luna laws.” These harmful education laws, which are named after the state’s schools Superintendent, Tom Luna, are now history. All three propositions were rejected.

Amendment 8 in Florida was pushed by its supporters as a matter of religious freedom when it would have actually allowed the state to publicly fund religious schools and institutions, taking away resources from public schools (more ALEC initiatives). Voters saw through the misleading rhetoric and defeated the measure.

Criminal Justice

Other legislation ALEC has been responsible for are laws dedicated to keeping the “War on Drugs” going.  The laws written by them and passed nationwide has been responsible for imprisoning more than 2 million Americans, imposition of long and harsh sentences for marijuana use, possession or cultivation.  Related laws involving privatizing prisons, criminal bonds and prison healthcare have resulted in huge profits to corporations involved in each – such as former ALEC members, Geo Group and Corrections Corp. of America – began to experience fear for bottom lines as two states (Colorado and Washington) legalized recreational marijuana use, effectively decriminalizing the drug which will reduce jail and prison populations and costs of imprisonment overall.

Colorado and Montana Vote Against Citizens United.  Colorado’s Amendment 65 and Montana’s Initiative 166 are ballot propositions designed to challenge the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United v. FEC that lifted bans on corporate political spending.

Massachusetts voters passed a proposition to legalize medical marijuana.

California voters approved a softening of the state’s “three strikes” sentencing law but upheld the death penalty.

Labor

California’s Proposition 32 has been called the “Paycheck Protection” Initiative — a name straight out of the playbook of ALEC. As CMD has reported, this proposition has been spun as campaign finance reform but would actually “eviscerate labor” by banning employers from withholding union dues and reimbursing the union.

The measure failed to pass, with 43.8 percent voting for and 56.2 percent voting against, but labor spent$75.2 million to hold off the attack. Similar measures have failed twice before in California.

Healthcare

Voters in Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Montana, and Wyoming weighed in on propositions to block aspects of 2010 federal health care legislation, the Affordable Care Act or “ObamaCare.” ALEC has been pushing similar laws nationwide.

The measures fared as follows: passed in Alabama, failed in Florida, passed in Missouri, passed percent in Montana, and passed in Wyoming.

Miscellaneous

Michigan

Michigan’s controversial Emergency Manager Law, 2011 Public Act 4, allowing the governor to appoint emergency managers to take over local municipalities in place of elected officials was on the ballot in that state. Volunteers collected over 200,000 signatures to get a referendum — Proposal 1 — on yesterday’s ballot to overturn the law.  The measure to keep the law in place failed, with 48 percent voting for and 52 percent against, successfully overturning the law.

Michigan voters also voted on a proposition sponsored by the front group Michigan Alliance for Prosperity (again taken right from ALEC’s playbook). The Michigan Taxation Amendment, Proposal 5, is similar to ALEC’s Super-Majority Act and would amend the state constitution to require a 2/3 majority in the legislature to enact an increase in state taxes.

The measure failed, with 31 percent voting for and 69 percent against.

Maryland

Maryland voters upheld their state’s DREAM Act, which ensures that all Maryland kids whose families pay Maryland taxes are able to pay in-state tuition.

Minnesota

Voters in Minnesota* rejected a voter restriction amendment, which would have placed additional burdens on voting. This marks the first time a popular vote has rejected voter restriction tactics.

It is important to note that though the GOP in Congress is adamantly claiming that the electoral outcome on Tuesday is not a “mandate” for the President’s policies and agenda, that claim is totally false.  Those considering whether this claim has merit or not should include the voter suppression factor when calculating the actual will of the people.

Efforts by ALEC Alums Governor Kasich and Sec. of State Husted in Ohio to install voter ID laws, limit early voting and reduce the number of days of early voting had an as yet undetermined impact upon voters.  The Ohio efforts were mirrored nationwide by states that had passed similar laws or were implementing regulations to reduce the time for early voting and requiring ID’s – such as in Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and more than 20 other states.  Efforts of suppressing the vote to prevail in key races failed – but undoubtedly those laws did affect turnout of minorities; African Americans, Latino’s, Senior citizens and College Students (unable to use their school ID’s to vote) – and thus had a measurable impact upon electoral outcome(s).

Currently with Florida not determined yet, the President won the popular vote by a margin of 2.9 million votes.  The latest estimate of the number of voters who were disenfranchised by these ALEC voter ID laws has been reported as 5 million.  Thus, the margin of President Obama’s victory could/should have been as much as 7.9 +/- million votes.  There is no way of estimating how the disenfranchised would have impacted the final results in other state and national races or upon referenda, ballot issues or questions.  Without the extensive voter suppression laws put in place by the GOP through ALEC model legislation, the election outcome would have been considered a landslide rather than just an ass whipping.

What Karl Rove and the donors to his PAC’s and dark money funds got in return for the hundreds of millions contributed to advancing the ALEC/GOP agenda was a lessening of the number of voters able to cast their ballots.  While they didn’t prevail in the face of a huge turnout of Democrats, if left in place such voter laws will have an impact upon the 2014 and subsequent election cycles.  An effort must be made immediately to begin to repeal such laws to enable the electorate to vote freely without intimidation or further suppression efforts put in place by one party.  Hopefully repeals will be introduced between now and 2014 in the states or better yet, a federal bill to prohibit such suppression.

Walking the Walk – Engaging the Community

On Saturday, 11/3, a new grass roots organization had an impact in the city of Charlotte (NC) by running an event in uptown Charlotte, on a busy corner next to an early voting station.  The overall message of the event was to inform the public about just who their politicians are working for.  Naturally this involved exposing the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to those who did not know about their involvement in the money and corruption that has become symptomatic of our state legislators and even our members of the U.S. Congress.

A second objective of this event was to start a petition demanding the resignation from, and the denouncement of ALEC by Thom Tillis, Speaker of the NC House, member of ALEC’s International Relations Task Force, and ALEC’s 2011 Legislator of the Year.  How can Tillis, among other members of ALEC in the state legislature honor their oaths of office, while also abiding by ALEC By-Laws?  They can’t, and Tillis among others should not be re-elected or even considered for positions representing the voting public while writing and introducing legislation designed to further the goals of the Corporate Members of ALEC.

From noon until 2:00 PM, a number of volunteers engaged the public on how much they actually knew about their elected representatives.  Many individuals of the Charlotte community learned details about ALEC, including how its legislation impacts the voting public and identified the North Carolina politicians who are currently in ALEC and who have had past ties with ALEC.  Those who stopped and engaged with the volunteers were generally outraged by the shady dealings of their elected representatives who have paid to be members of ALEC and who have pushed for such legislation as Voter ID Laws, Tort Reform Laws, laws to restrict the rights of women’s health, and many other laws.  Without a governor who has been willing to veto such legislation, voters need to understand what they can look forward to, courtesy of the money and corruption spread by ALEC and the Koch Brothers.

After dealing with some technical problems, including an inability to get a consistent Skype feed, a number of speakers addressed ALEC and how it is impacting the people of North Carolina.

First up was Ron from VLTP, the Voters Legislative Transparency Project, with an explanation of what ALEC is and what it does, so that people who had not previously heard about ALEC would have an overview of this “sinister” organization.  He also spoke about VLTP’s Whistleblower Complaint against ALEC which has been accepted for further investigation by the IRS.

Lisa Graves, head of CMD and the ALECExposed project – and the true face of the anti-ALEC movement – tried to speak next, but was blocked by the inability to get a consistent signal from Skype.  She did, however extend her thanks to the activists in Charlotte who participated in the events surrounding ALEC’s Spring Summit in Charlotte, and praised them for being able to use the facts to talk down ALEC members who came out of their sanctuary in the Westin Hotel to try to convince the protesters that the ALEC view was the correct view.  She also thanked the activists who have been exposing such ALEC Corporate Members as Duke Energy, Bank of America, and RJ Reynolds for what they have done to take advantage of their money and power to hurt the lives of the people of North Carolina.

Pamela Grundy, of MecklenburgACTS and Parents Across America—an expert on Education–then spoke to explain how and why ALEC is attempting to destroy public education, and the vital importance of public education in NC and America.  Education was a common theme throughout the day, as ALEC must be stopped in their efforts to “dumb down” Americans through the privatization of our public schools.

Local activist Ayende Alcala gave a riveting speech about ALEC’s connection to prison privatization.  He addressed the use of prisoners as “slave labor”, working the in factories owned by these prison privatizers for 23 cents per hour in competition with free enterprise.  He spoke with great passion about how and why ALEC has done this, and how badly this impacts people of color.  He addressed the need for better education in the poor and often black schools, so that they can benefit from the public school system and become more involved in the economic recovery .  He also spoke to the need for people to go out and vote as a way of changing the existing corrupt system.

Michael Zytkow, who is investigating an independent campaign for a seat on the Charlotte City Council, spoke about the importance of voting and knowing what your candidates really stand for.  He also spoke about ALEC Corporate Member Duke Energy and how their head, Jim Rogers, has backed the both the DNC and the RNC; contributed to the campaign of Thom Tillis; all while funding ALEC activities, particularly the Spring Summit which was held in Charlotte.  He asked the question that should be on a lot of voters’ minds—how is Rogers and Duke going to pay the shortfall they guaranteed for the DNC while keeping his promise that this would not impact the rates of consumers.

Tony Ndege of Occupy Winston Salem in his talk, stressed the importance of knowing who from ALEC was running for re-election and not voting for them.  He addressed the two-faced (etch-a-sketch?) actions of legislators who pay to belong to ALEC while proposing legislation to benefit big corporate money instead of the needs of the majority of the electorate.  Tony, and Kim Porter asked people to sign petitions calling on Thom Tillis to renounce ALEC and leave the legislature.

After the speeches were over, all of the people who were involved engaged the community in the downtown area.

But the true highlight of the event was the community members of Charlotte who learned about ALEC.  Although events like this too often serve to highlight the individuals who are a part of the event, this rally was strictly constructed with the mindset of engaging the community about the importance of education and learning about those who want our votes.  Petitions were signed, with over a hundred people in this past week pledging themselves in the fight against exposing and denouncing those who are in ALEC.

This event was not meant to be a one time thing.  An organization such as ALEC, which has a vast amount of corporate sponsorship and legislative representatives, will not be exposed in only one event.  This event was set up to show the community commitment to exposing ALEC.  This is the start of an anti-ALEC movement.

UAW, SEIU PFAW and Other Org’s File Charges Against Romney for Violating Federal Ethics in Government law

From Nation of Change, by Greg Palast

United Auto Worker’s President, Bob King announced today that his Union and a consortium of other organizations that include the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), People for the American Way, SEIU, Public Campaign and the Social Equity Group has initiated and brought formal charges against Mitt Romney for “hiding” between $15.3 million and $115.0 million in Ann Romney’s so-called “blind” trust.

The formal charge filed with the US Office of Government Ethics focuses attention upon an aspect of the Romney “family” that has been previously overlooked – the financial manipulations by Mitt and Ann Romney serving to hide their huge wealth.  It also demonstrates that the relationship between Mitt Romney and one of his main contributors, Paul Singer is more than just that of a candidate and supporter.  This scheme began three years ago and partnered Ann Romney with hedge fund manager Singer, who would later become Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s key donor.

This disgusting tale exemplifies precisely why what Romney and his Bain Company does has been defined as “vulture capitalism”.  When the economy collapsed in 2009 the Romney’s and Singer saw an opportunity to capitalize off of the dire straits the U.S. automakers found themselves facing.  Under their partnership Singer and Romney secretly bought controlling interest in Delphi Auto (the former GM auto parts division) through Singer’s Hedge Fund, Elliot Management.

With the government stepping up to bail out GM and Chrysler, Ann Romney and Singer “stepped up” to reap a windfall of money out of the TARP funds by extorting $12.9 Billion in taxpayer funding from GM and the government.  By threatening to cut off the supply of key steering columns to GM unless they received funds from the bailout, this extortion was successful.  The “profits earned” by the Romneys from this extortion scheme were then hidden in a trust after allegedly being laundered through an offshore corporation and a limited partnership agreement…

The union chief says, “The American people have a right to know about Gov. Romney’s potential conflicts of interest, such as the profits his family made from the auto rescue,” “It’s time for Gov. Romney to disclose or divest.”

“In 2009, Ann Romney partnered with her husband’s key donor, billionaire Paul Singer, who secretly bought a controlling interest in Delphi Auto, the former GM auto parts division.  Singer’s hedge fund, Elliott Management, threatened to cut off GM’s supply of steering columns unless GM and the government’s TARP auto bail-out fund provided Delphi with huge payments.  While the US treasury complained this was “extortion,” the hedge funds received, ultimately, $12.9 billion in taxpayer subsidies.

“While Romney was opposing the rescue of one of the nation’s most important manufacturing sectors, he was building his fortunes with his Delphi investor group, making his fortunes off the misfortunes of others,” King added.”The Romneys’ gigantic windfall was hidden inside an offshore corporation inside a Limited Partnership inside a trust which both concealed the gain and reduces taxes on it.”

This is but one of possibly many such manipulations and transactions involving the Romneys and other corporate owners during the period 2008 to today that were used to increase personal wealth at the expense of taxpayer bailouts used to save our nation’s economy.  One can almost hear the loud sucking vacuum as more and more tax dollars are being swept upward to the top 1% of the wealthiest families and owners of multi-national corporations…we can also imagine the mocking laughter emanating from behind closed boardroom doors of America’s Hedge Fund companies as they count and exchange the status of money from tax dollars to “earned” investor profits.  This truly is a form of vulturous activity which is being used to further break the backs of America’s working middle class.

Read the full Nation of Change Palast article here

Corporate Control of Candidates & Elections – Topics, Contributions, Candidates and ALEC

It’s called “Corporatocracy” and as I’ve written for more than two years now, it is alive, well and on the rise.  Corporate involvement in government controls, regulations and programs has become dominant over the past two decades – and in the past four years it has increased exponentially following the election of America’s first African-American President.

Over the aforementioned twenty plus years, corporations have diversified their interest(s) from strictly business and manufacturing to an agenda of creating and urging the passage of pro-corporate friendly legislation beneficial to their bottom line(s) – regardless of the impact upon consumers, patients or voters.

Today more than three hundred and fifty multi-national companies are “officially” members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) where they take part in crafting/drafting legislation that limits consumer rights, suppresses voter rights, increases gun sales, privatizing; education (K-12 & college), prisons, prison services and public utilities.   Others are hidden members of ALEC including the businesses, companies and corporations who are members of the Chamber of Commerce, the National Foundation of Independent Business (NFIB – which claims a membership base of 350,000) and PhRMA (listing 53 member pharma companies) that has membership and key positions within ALEC.  This organization serves as the legislative voice of corporate interests, the “go to” charity used by companies such as Coca~Cola, Koch Industries, Microsoft, AT&T, PhRMA and Eli Lilly to lobby for and secure legislation reducing regulations on operations, lower taxation and less oversight and consumer protections.

Numerous other initiatives are pursued by these corporate players but this article isn’t about their anti-consumer activities or the legislation they have managed to pass (though for purposes of demonstration tort reform is explained below).  Rather it is about the pursuit of controlling our Legislative, judicial and executive branches of government (state and federal).   They are no longer content with paying huge sums of money to get the legislation passed…they want to cut out the middlemen.

Historically we have elected politicians who we believed would adequately and properly represent the rights and interests of our state citizens and the US population collectively.  Since the general election in 2008 all that has changed.  Corporations and businesses are no longer content with “owning” lawmakers with campaign contributions, bribes and expensive organizations such as ALEC.  Today they want to replace actual political candidates with current or former corporate executives and owners – who will advance a free-market, pro-corporate agenda. More →

What the #&%! Is CMD Thinking?

Dear Center for Media and Democracy,

Are you out of your #&%! minds, or do you just want to throw some red meat to the radical right?  I refer directly to your article:
We’ve got a few bones to pick with you re this…

First, just what “industrialized nations would expect a presidential candidate to indicate his top choice for a position as significant as Secretary of the Treasury prior to the election”.  Sounds kind of like the “trust me, I know what I’m doing” ad nauseum at tonight’s “debate”.

Next up in importance:  it seems to us that since Geithner has said he’s leaving anyway, just what is the point of your throwing him to the dogs?  The right wing might try to use him as a scape-goat for the economic issues that have remained long after Bush left office.  They’re not having much success (according to polls taken before tonight’s debate) going after Obama on the economy, and you are suggesting that Geithner should be a distraction.

We agree with your view about Geithner being one of those who caused the problem(s), and we think that Obama made a crappy choice in selecting him as Secretary of the Treasury.  That being said, is now the time to fuel the fires of the right by agreeing with them on a position they have long held – on the eve of an important election.  Seems kind of political for a 501(c)(3) doesn’t it?  I mean calling for a particular kind of person to be appointed to such a posting?

But most importantly to us is why an organization as responsible as CMD can be even going down this track?  When as leaders of the movement to expose ALEC you are worrying about why any political candidate would make the future choice of a Congressionally-approved post, there is something really wrong.
Why are you not asking how many ALEC members and neocons will be on Romney’s cabinet?  Why are you not thinking about how ALEC will prosper under another republican administration?  Think how ALEC flourished under the Reagan and Bushs’ administrations–to the point of being a virtual partner in the government under Reagan.  And after your own Brendan Frazier’s report on ALEC, Heritage, and the House Republican Study Group…how the heck can you be thinking about who will replace Geithner?  ALEC.  Heritage.  RSC. Weyrich.  What are you missing here CMD?

Who knows, would Tommy Thompson have another cabinet post under Romney?  Or Donald Rumsfeld?  Perhaps Victor Schwarz for Attorney General?  Jack Kingston for HHS.  Joe “you lie” Wilson; Mary Kiffmeyer; Spencer Bacchus, John Boehner…  Neocons like John Bolton are already advising Romney on foreign Policy.  Sure, let’s bring on another war, Iran and/or Syria—we’re still paying for the last ones.
Who is going to create and administer “austerity budgets”?  We’re the ones who are going to get wiped up by this…this…KochtopusAusterity budgets are certainly winning the hearts and minds of Europeans right now, with ALEC–the legislative arm for the entire world’s 1% in America and increasingly in other countries.
______________________________________________________________________________________________

We know Lisa Graves.  We’ve been in sporadic communication and cooperation about our research re ALEC and transparency for almost 18 months.  She is dedicated to exposing and eliminating ALEC.  Watch her on videos on the VLTPVideoChannel.  IMHO, she is the face of the “expose ALEC” community.  She took the information from Cincinnati, organized it carefully, and created ALECexposed.org.  She didn’t just dump the info as others have.  I cannot believe that she approved this article for publication.

CMD–and others–what have you done with Lisa Graves?  We cannont believe that she approved this article for publication.

Nationwide’s “On Your Side…?” Hey ALEC – How about some Clarity?

By Bob Sloan

Thanks to 2Old2Care @ BecauseICan Blog for research…

An article on October 10th from PRWatch updates and clarifies – to some extent – the discrepancy discovered related to Nationwide Insurance’s claim that they have not been involved with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for over a decade now.  However Nationwide’s statement raises other important questions…

Nationwide claims that once it was revealed that the company’s Susan Valauri, who is currently Nationwide’s senior director of government relations, won ALEC’s “Private Sector Member of the Year Award” in 2008, the award was for activities prior to 2002:

“The 2008 award was for past service, and at the time she was not a member nor did she have any affiliation with ALEC.” The date of her award overlaps with the period that her former colleague, Smith, was managing ALEC’s day-to-day affairs.”

This claim by Nationwide’s current Director of Public Relations, Dace de la Foret makes no sense to most of us who have been following and reporting on ALEC’s activities for years.  I say that as the caption under the picture showing Valauri receiving the award, clearly states the award is given to the “2008 Private Sector Member of the Year .”  We have found no other instance where ALEC has issued or awarded such a prize to another individual or company more than six years after they left the organization.  They awarded their Jeffersonian award to former President Reagan after he left office but Reagan was never an ALEC member, and they’ve given awards to their legislative alumni.

Other questions raised regarding the ALEC Private Sector Member of the Year awards…how many private sector members are  chosen as “member of the year?”  Does every ALEC private sector member get one of these “prestigious” awards annually?  Are there limits to the number of identical awards ALEC hands out every year?

In 2002 ALEC handed out three “Private Enterprise member of the year awards”:

Alec’s 2002 Private Sector Member of the Year recipients include:

We have identified at least two for 2008.  In addition to Ms. Valauri and Nationwide, there is J.P. Wieske, the executive director of the Council for Affordable Health Insurance (CAHI), headquartered in Alexandria, VA.  CAHI claims to have been the ALEC 2008 Private Sector Member of the Year recipient – and Heartland Institute proudly reported Wieske as the award winner: Wieske co-authored ALEC and CAHI’s 2010 “State Legislators Guide to Health Insurance Solutions and Glossaryand CAHI and Wieske both came on-board ALEC after Nationwide and Valauri purportedly left, which calls into question why ALEC would honor a previous private sector member and her company over CAHI and Wieske?  We have Wieske’s co-author, Christie Herrera, ALEC’s former Director of their Health and Human Services Task Force, publicly lobbying against candidate Obama’s Healthcare platform in 2007and according to Nationwide:

“Ms. Valauri received the award from ALEC, when it was led by Alan Bronson Smith. He was Nationwide’s head of government relations from 1978 to 2002. Smith not only represented Nationwide on ALEC’s corporate “Private Enterprise” board a decade ago, but also a few years after leaving Nationwide he became the Executive Director of ALEC from 2008 to 2009.

In an ALEC Joint Board Meeting document from 1996, the Board determined – too many awards were being handed out, making them less “meaningful” – limits and provision for awards needed to be set.  The chairman of the Private Enterprise Board could nominate one private enterprise member . State Senator Dean Rhoads (R-NV) stated that the Awards Committee would provide its recommendations for these awards to the Executive Committee of the Board.  The Committee held:

“…legislator and private enterprise awards would be limited to ALEC members only and that non-ALEC members could be awarded certificates of appreciation for advancing an ALEC issue. He added that no legislator or private enterprise member should receive an award more than once…the criteria for receipt of a legislator or private enterprise member award should be work on a task force, work on behalf of the ALEC state delegation or work in leadership positions.

Obviously either Nationwide or ALEC is lying about the 2008 award in question – because ALEC’s rules only allow one annual award for private enterprise members and purportedly requiring the recipient be a current ALEC member and the award be based upon work on a task force, a state or for “leadership” work.  For 2002 ALEC had already given three such awards out to then current member companies and their representatives…yet we’re now led to believe that Valauri and Nationwide were a fourth recipient?  Receiving such an award “retroactively?”

The fact that the head of Nationwide’s government relations division, Alan Bronson Smith left the insurance giant and later returned to ALEC as their Executive Director…then left ALEC for another of the conservative cabal’s key members, Heartland Institute is a key part of the cabal’s “revolving door” policy.  The additional discovery that a Mississippi legislator, William Gardner Hewes, III is a Nationwide agent and member of ALEC holding a seat on ALEC’s International Relations Task Force (using his Nationwide email address at ALEC) leads us to believe the relationship between ALEC and Nationwide is much close than they would have consumers believe.

Somebody is lying or deliberately muddying the facts to hide “something” from the public.  ALEC is under such scrutiny and their brand has become toxic to corporate members of late.  Because ALEC is so secretive about their members, activities and model legislation it may never be known what the actual facts surrounding the membership of Nationwide is/was in ALEC and if/when the membership actually ended.  Possibly it’s time ALEC answer questions posed instead of leaving the burden to their members by refusing to respond to legitimate questions posed by journalists.

Clarity, of course, has never been one of the character traits of ALEC so let’s not hold our breath until they come forward with facts…

ALEC draws attention of the League of Women Voters

The League has supported transparency in government for years.

What is new is that the resolution names, specifically, the American Legislative Exchange Council.

The LWV adopted the resolution because some Casper members were concerned about legislators who received ALEC scholarships to attend its meetings and promote model bills, said Amy Williamson of Laramie, LWV president.

The LWV resolution says in part, “There is evidence that members and committees of the Wyoming Legislature sponsor legislation written by political, business and other interest groups that promote their agendas.”

“Efforts by any organization to direct the passage of laws in Wyoming’s Legislature must be transparent to citizens and legislators of Wyoming, consistent with the fundamental principles of openness and accountability,” the LWV resolution adds.

Please click here to read more about this important action by the League of Women Voters to fight back against ALEC.  And demanding transparency on all legislation is necessary to be sure our representatives in government are representing their real constituents and not out there selling their votes to organizations of any political persuasion. 

Wyoming LWV–you have our respect and admiration.