medtronic

What Happens to Corporations Who “Quit” ALEC?

Thomas Jefferson on the state of America todayLast year, a number of  national progressive groups with ample funding spent a lot of time working to get corporations to change their business paradigms and cut their ties to ALEC.  A very admirable undertaking, as this was supposed to cut directly into ALEC’s operating capital while putting them (ALEC and the progressive groups) in the spotlight of at least cable news shows and internet media reporting.  A spot of MSM coverage, but just a spot.

I have asked before on these pages, and will ask again–did these corporate members of ALEC back off their financial support for a radical right wing agenda when they quit ALEC–after all, most of them claimed to know nothing about ALEC’s political work.  They were just involved for “business”.

koch-cokeCoca Cola, for example, 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.”

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 – and the other insurgents– do to get their “get out of jail free card” from MSNBC, big national public interest groups like Color of Change and Common Cause, and the written press?

No2

Are they making any sort of amends for the ALEC written model legislation they voted for?

Are they making any sort of restNo6itution to those directly hurt by
model legislation that ALEC passed?

 

NO-12Are they encouraging legislatures not to pass these hateful bills?

 

No9
Are they now doing anything to help black voters register to vote?    Again,No.

 
To put it succinctly, many of the corporations that are no longer bankrolling ALEC continue to engage in stealth lobbying through other Cabal members.

Stealth lobbying.  ALEC is a 501(c)3 so it is precluded from lobbying.  There have been three whistleblower complaints filed with the IRS  about ALEC, in fact, being a lobbying organization.  (VLTP has the master complaint of those filed, rather than one by any of the big national interest groups.  Let’s hear it for grass roots activism!)

And appropriately, this is all about money.  Money is at the core of what ALEC stands for.  And despite claims of success at getting corporations to quit ALEC, we can plainly see that in about half the cases money flowing into ALEC went to “another ALEC” instead.

Were goals actually achieved, or did ALEC slip past this attack?

The results are indeed mixed.  Assuming that companies actually are not making any donations to ALEC or actively involved in ALEC policy-writing, let’s take a look.  (Please click on any of the blue-colored links to find out more about these members of “The Cabal”, or “The Other ALECs” (as Truthout has dubbed them) with whom the quitting corporations are now in bed.)  Then let’s say it again, without laughing, that they did not know about ALEC’s political agenda.

List of Corporations Which Have Dumped ALEC Which Are Still Supporting the Radical Right Wing:

Corporations

1.) Coca-Cola – NGA, SGAC, SLLF

2.) Kraft – SGAC, CSG,SLLF

3.) Intuit – CSG, SLLF,NGA

4.) McDonald’s – SGAC, CSG,SLLF

5.) Mars – SGAC

6.) Reed Elsevier – SGAC

7.) American Traffic Solutions – SLLF

8.) Blue Cross, Blue Shield – CSG,NGA

9.) Procter and Gamble – SGAC, CSG, SLLF,NGA

10.) Scantron -NGA

11.) Amazon -NGA

12.) Medtronic -CSG

13.) Walmart – SGAC, CSG, SLLF, NGA

14.) Johnson & Johnson – NCSL, CSG,NGA

15.) John Deere -SGAC

16.) CVS – SGAC, SLLF,NGA

17.) Hewlett-Packard – SGAC, CSG,NGA

18.) Best Buy – SGAC, NCSL,NGA

19.) ExpressScripts -CSG

 

Non-Profits

20.) Gates Foundation – SLLF

21.) Lumina Foundation – NGA

To summarize, while ALEC may have been financially hurt by the exodus of these corporations, corporate behavioral change was most certainly not achieved as monies were simply re-directed to other influential members of the Cabal.  These corporations need to be treated accordingly for trying to pull the wool over the publics’ eye.

Please, write to these corporations and tell them that they have not fooled you by “quitting” ALEC only to stay involved with those rad-right groups which are

supporting financial de-regulation
supporting privatization of government
supporting the elimination of unions
supporting the elimination of the minimum wage
supporting climate change denial legislation
supporting Voter ID
supporting Kill at Will

These corporations have certainly NOT distanced themselves from the extremist agenda of ALEC, and in fact manipulated the progressive media into creating the echo chamber that sold this to the public.

 

EnergySolutions and Connections Education are 27th and 28th Corporations to Leave ALEC

Two more corporations have publicly left the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC): EnergySolutions, a nuclear services company based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Connections Education, LLC, a private school entity based in Baltimore, Maryland, that contracts with charter schools, school districts, or governmental entities to provide “online” lessons to students. This brings the total to 28 corporations and four non-profits — 32 total private sector members — that have cut ties to the right-wing corporate bill mill.

EnergySolutions is a $1.8 billion company whose business includes, in its words, “decommissioning and remediation of nuclear sites and facilities, management of spent nuclear fuel, the transportation of nuclear material and the environmental cleanup of nuclear legacy sites.”

EnergySolutions was a member of ALEC’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force in 2011. Bills approved by this task force work to undermine environmental protections, limit the ability of local government to manage land use, protect corporate polluters, and streamline the siting of nuclear power plants.  EnergySolution’s former vice president of legislative and community affairs, Bette Arial, represented the company on the ALEC task force. Arial left EnergySolutions last May to become a fundraiser for the Sutherland Institute, a Utah “think tank” belonging to the State Policy Network, which is also an ALEC member.  EnergySolutions has apparently decided its relationship with ALEC is not worth the controversy on the eve of ALEC’s annual meeting in Salt Lake.

Connections Education, LLC is a subsidiary of the largest education company and largest book publisher in the world — $5.8 billion GBP London-based Pearson Education, as of November 2011.

Connections operates “virtual” K-12 schools.  Until as recently as May, Connections Academy’s co-founder and senior vice president of state relations, Mickey Revenaugh, was the “private sector” co-chair of ALEC’s Education Task Force, as she had been since at least 2008.  During its tenure with ALEC, Connections Education participated in the development of ALEC’sVirtual Public Schools Act,” its “Next Generation Charter Schools Act,” and the “Longitudinal Student Growth Act,” among other ALEC bills.

To read more about these latest ALEC insurgents, please click here

Two More Large Corporations Quit ALEC, Rocking the Conservative Group

By Bob Sloan, at the Daily Kos.

Banner

Earlier this morning it was announced that Wal-Mart, one of a handful of huge U.S. Corporate members (including Johnson & Johnson, AT&T, Wellpoint and State Farm Insurance) refusing to quit their membership with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – finally succumbed to consumer and activist pressure and ended that membership.  Wal-Mart issued this statement:

“Previously, we expressed our concerns about ALEC’s decision to weigh in on issues that stray from its core mission ‘to advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets,'” Maggie Sans, Wal-Mart vice president of public affairs and government relations, said in a May 30 letter addressed to ALEC’s national chairman and executive director.”We feel that the divide between these activities and our purpose as a business has become too wide. To that end, we are suspending our membership in ALEC.”

This followed an announcement by Medtronics earlier this week that they had not renewed their membership in ALEC for this year…saying they actually left in 2010.  However, documents obtained by Common Cause and published by PRWatch on Tuesday dispute that claim, the evidence showing:

“ALEC documents obtained and released by Common Cause list three Medtronic representatives on ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force as of June and March 2011, as well as in October 2010. In October 2011, Medtronic posted a job opening for a Government Affairs Director that would “participate in and support corporate SGA efforts with select national bodies of state legislators, including ALEC” (emphasis added).

 

Medtronic’s admission of non-renewal of their ALEC membership – made with untruths spilling from the cup, demonstrates how poisonous ALEC has become to corporate members and financial supporters.

Quitting ALEC is no longer sufficient as a degree if separation: these companies attempt to separate themselves even further from the conservative front group by falsely claiming they dropped out voluntarily as much as two years previously. Medtronic’s claim of leaving in 2010 is clearly false, due to the documentation of their holding “three seats upon the Health and Human Services Task Force” as recently as June of last year.  The additional recruitment of someone as a “Government Affairs Director” last October to serve the corporation’s interests with “select national bodies of state legislators” indicates quite clearly Medtronic intended to stay with ALEC and reinforce their relationship.

Medtronic’s three seats upon the H&HS Task Force cost the corporation $3,000.00 each in addition to their membership fees which run from $7,000.00 to $25,000.00 annually (depending upon the degree of influence they want within ALEC).

Maggie Sans, Wal-Mart’s vice president of public affairs and government relations served as Secretary on the same H&HS Task Force.  Medtronic and Wal-Mart’s leaving has hopefully crippled the Health and Human Services’ Task Force – with the loss of the Secretary and three task force seats becoming vacant.  Maybe the H&HS Director, Christie Herrera’s statements to protesters at the ALEC Protest in Charlotte earlier this month hastened the decisions of Wal-Mart to drop their membership.  A person identified as Herrera made statements to the effect that those who “don’t pay property taxes, have no right to expect free healthcare, public education or a right to vote”.

As I noted in yesterday’s diary, Breitbart’s blog has run a video claiming that the Anti-ALEC Protest and Teach-in in Charlotte during the ALEC Spring Summit was a “failure” due to a low turnout.  Those making this claim fail to note that immediately following the protest, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) announced they were dropping their membership. Was it the numerous conversations with the protesting teachers and students outside the Charlotte Westin that was responsible for this sudden decision?

The NACSA left along with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards which dropped their membership on May 1.

With the loss of Wal-Mart and Medtronics, the number of corporations dropping ALEC during the month of our protest now stands at four!  Not a bad record for a “failed” protest of ALEC. Hopefully the abandonment of ALEC will be even greater in July as we go after them at their Annual meeting in Salt Lake City!

While the news of corporations abandoning ALEC is encouraging and rewarding to those of us who have been pursuing the cabal – we must all keep in mind that the true strength of ALEC lay with their legislative members who disseminate and ensure passage of their model legislation state by state.  To date I believe the number of legislative members who have quit ALEC stands at 57 or 58.  By the end of the year we have to increase that number substantially.  In the absence of corporate financial support and membership ALEC is going to be looking high and low for replacement members.  To do that they have to offer “something” in return for new members to have the incentive to join…that will only come through ALEC’s legislative members working hard to pass their model bills to demonstrate they still have the “power and influence” necessary to advance pro-corporate legislation.

ALEC’s Article X, section 10.03 “Duties of the ALEC State Chairmen” requires each State Chair to “ensure introduction of model legislation”.  These are the legislators responsible for introducing every piece of ALEC crap in each state.  Here is ALEC’s list of current State Chairmen.  Take a look and if you’re rep is on this list, please contact him/her and tell them you “know who they are and what they’ve done”, urging them to drop their membership or answer to you and fellow voters in the next election.

Let’s all concentrate on urging all state lawmakers to drop their ALEC memberships and return to representing their constituents instead. After all, isn’t that why they were elected?