National Center for Public Policy Research

05/01 Daily Report on Activities, Legislation and Initiatives of the ALEC/Koch Cabal

05/01 Daily Report on Activities, Legislation and Initiatives of the ALEC/Koch Cabal

By Bob Sloan

Below are today’s articles and materials related to ALEC and the Koch funded conservative cabal.  Included ALEC published material – if available.

Click on a link to view the complete article.

First “Ag-Gag” Prosecution: This Utah Woman Filmed a Slaughterhouse from the Public Street

“This is the first prosecution in the country under one of these laws, which are designed to silence undercover investigators who expose animal welfare abuses on factory farms. The legislation is a direct response to a series of shocking investigations by groups like the Humane Society, Mercy for Animals, and Compassion Over Killing that have led to plant closures, public outrage, and criminal charges against workers.

“Even the most sweeping ag-gag bills, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council model legislation, don’t explicitly target filming from a roadside. But Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Vermont are all considering bills similar to the Utah law right now.”

Renewable energy becomes a utility lifeline

“When North Carolina Republicans brought forth a bill pushed by the conservative lobbying group ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, to gut the state’s renewable energy standards, they figured they had a model piece of pro-business legislation that would sail through the legislature this year.

“But, as North American Windpower gleefully reported, it died in committee. Key to the story is the committee where it died — public utilities and energy.”

The Oil And Gas Industry’s Assault On Renewable Energy

A Bloomberg article released last week details how the oil and gas industry, through some self-described free market organizations that they fund, are trying to engineer a legislative massacre of these policies in more than a dozen states.

“The groups may sound familiar: American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is currently pushing legislation around the country that would mandate the teaching of climate change denial in public school systems, and The Heartland Institute, which ran a billboard campaign last year comparing global warming “admitters” to Osama bin Laden and Charles Manson. Both have long opposed sensible energy policies. And their funders will sound familiar, too: the oil, gas and coal industries and their owners like the Koch Brothers.”

A Movement Is Needed to Get Corporations to Disclose All Their Political Spending. Let’s Start It

“Among those pressuring companies to be more forthcoming is Rob McGarrah of the AFL-CIO’s Office of Investment. The union owns shares of stock in many companies, including Cigna, and is asking them to provide shareholders and the public with a more complete accounting of spending to influence public policy.

“McGarrah was unsuccessful in persuading Cigna to disclose “special assessments” on behalf of AHIP and other groups, so the AFL-CIO submitted a shareholder resolution that would compel the company to report indirect funding of lobbying through trade associations and tax-exempt organizations, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, which drafts “model legislation” to protect business interests.”

ALEC-Orchestrated Bill To Preempt Paid Sick Leave Passes Florida Senate

“But “preemption bills,” laws orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that override any efforts to implement paid sick days, are also gaining speed, with the latest passed by Florida’s state Senate on Friday. The bill, which had huge support from Disney World, Darden Restaurants (owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster), and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, would delay local government efforts to adopt paid sick leave policies.”

How to get to work on time in Russia (and more from In Other News)

“Prodded by the meat and poultry industries, state legislators nationwide are introducing laws making it harder for animal-welfare advocates to investigate cruelty and food-safety cases. Measures in Indiana, Arkansas and Pennsylvania, for example, would outlaw videotaping agricultural operations. Iowa already made it illegal to deny belonging to an animal-welfare organization when applying for a farm job. Other bills are pending in California, Nebraska and Tennessee. The force behind this legislative agenda, whose purpose, Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection for the Humane Society of the United States, insisted, “is to prevent any pattern of abuse from being documented,” is the American Legislative Exchange Council. It labels those who interfere with animal operations “terrorists” and titled the California bill the “Animal and Ecological Terrorist Act,” although an ALEC official admitted “Freedom to Farm Act” would’ve sounded better. (Associated Press)”

Governor Mary Fallin to Address Legislators from Across the United States

“OKLAHOMA CITY  —  Governor Mary Fallin will speak to hundreds of state legislators from across the country on Thursday at the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Spring Task Force Summit. The two day summit will be held this year at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

“Fallin, who was named a “Legislator of the Year” by ALEC while serving as a state representative, will discuss this year’s legislative session and highlight the success of pro-growth policies in Oklahoma.”

LETTER: ALEC too far right for these groups

“The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a group promoting far-right legislation. Its tax exempt status is currently challenged, as its sole purpose is to formulate legislation promoting extremely conservative points of view and helping the rich and powerful maintain their status.

“The South Dakota Legislative Board has voted to spend our tax dollars to pay for membership dues for all our state legislature’s members and all their expenses to attend ALEC meetings.”

ALEC related material published or distributed by ALEC…

National Center for Public Policy Research to Participate in Five Shareholder Meetings this Week, Bringing Total to 18 So Far for this Shareholder Meeting Season

“Washington, D.C. – The National Center for Public Policy Research will directly address five major U.S. corporations this week as part of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project, which calls major corporations to account for activities that undermine the free market and/or a free and prosperous United States.

“Activities of particular interest include 1) corporations engaging in cronyist practices that suck money from taxpayers; 2) corporations lobbying to expand the size of government; 3) corporations imposing expensive private regulatory regimes on suppliers, often for greenwashing purposes, in the name of “sustainability;” and 4) corporations caving in to ridiculous left-wing demands, for example, demands to shun the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

“The National Center also attends meetings to compliment CEOs who stand up for freedom and the free market.”

04/29 Daily Report on Activities, Legislation and Initiatives of the ALEC/Koch Cabal

04/29 Daily Report on Activities, Legislation and Initiatives of the ALEC/Koch Cabal

By Bob Sloan

In order to keep readers with an interest in ALEC up to date on stories related to ALEC, we’re posting this page with brief descriptions of ALEC activities and links to the articles or material(s).

Included  this update are links to measures or articles published by ALEC (if available) , showing their take on issues.  Simply click on the title and a link will take you to the full article(s).

GOP Legislator Defends ALEC

A decision by the South Dakota legislature’s Executive Board to possibly include paying for trips to American Legislative Exchange Council meetings has created some controversy. ALEC as it is known has advocated for major changes in public education and the role of government. Senator Dan Lederman of Dakota Dunes, a republican, has been a member of ALEC for some time.

Legislative ‘circus’ had its moments of dignity

“The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporately financed orchestrator of legislators nationwide, provided the ventriloquy for yet another “smart-ALEC” puppet promoting the use of what would be public funds for private schooling. A contortionist managed to make a bill that limited access to justice for wrongfully discharged employees look like tort reform. After 85 days of cape-swirling and abra-cadabras about tax relief, the majority magician managed to pull two sorry little sparrows out of the hat, both tax breaks for the few at the expense of the many.”

Art Pope Groups Push Extreme ALEC Tax Agenda in North Carolina

“When McCrory appointed Pope as his budget director in 2012, many progressives in the state feared sweeping tax cuts were on the way. The governor has been mostly silent, so far, but the three Pope-tied groups have each released their own highly regressive tax plans.

“The Civitas tax plan was written by Arthur Laffer, the author of the annual American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) tax publication “Rich States, Poor States.” The two plans are like peas in a pod. Like the ALEC publication, the Civitas plan proposes austerity coupled with abolishing individual and corporate income taxes and replacing them with an increased state sales tax. A sales tax is regressive, since the less a person earns, the greater proportion of their income is eaten up by the tax. According to the North Carolina Justice Center, such a shift would mean a tax cut for the wealthiest 20 percent, while placing a greater financial burden on the bottom 60 percent. This would translate into a $500 tax increase for somebody earning $24,000, but a $41,000 decrease for a $1 million earner.”

Did Johnson & Johnson succumb to ‘race baiting’?

“A conservative policy expert recently attended Johnson & Johnson’s annual shareholder meeting last week where he challenged the company for caving to left-wing extremists and deciding to stop working with mainstream conservative organizations.

“At Thursday’s annual meeting of shareholders in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Justin Danhof, general counsel for The National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), criticized Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky’s decision to stop working with the American Legislative Exchange Council – a respected, 40-year-old national organization of supporting state legislators.

Audio: National expert on swift, certain sanctions: ‘Rest of the country has its eyes on Washington state

“Swift and Certain Sanctions”…another model bill from ALEC. This “Act” was adopted by the full ALEC membership on June 3 2010.  Assoc. Professor Angela Hawken, PhD of Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy has been touring the U.S. speaking alongside representatives of American Enterprise Institute (AEI) , a staunchly conservative think tank associated with the American Legislative Exchange Council and funded at least in part by the Koch family foundations in similar manner to the Americans For Prosperity organization.  Hawken is an “expert” on topics other than swift and certain sanctions…often speaking on legalization of marijuana.

Many projects of Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy are funded by the Charles G. Koch Foundation:

April 1, 2013, The School of Public Policy and the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation present an Economic Seminar on Wednesday, April 3, at 12 p.m. in LC 159, with a reception to follow. School of Public Policy students Catherine Bampoky (MPP candidate ’13) and Aolong Liu (MPP candidate ’13) will present their research paper titled “The Impact of Entrepreneurship on Economic Growth.” In addition, students Ji Gu (MPP candidate ’13) and Tonghui Zhu (MPP candidate ’13) will present “Research and Development and Economic Growth in the United States.” These projects are joint work with Dr. Luisa Blanco and Dr. James Prieger. Funding for these projects was provided by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.

 

Our Voice: State should not pay lawmakers’ dues to ALEC

 “South Dakota’s Republican-controlled legislative Executive Board last week decided that each member of the Legislature should be a member of ALEC — the American Legislative Exchange Council.

“That’s $10,500 of your money: $100 membership each for 105 South Dakota lawmakers’ memberships to a partisan group that is not looking out for the people of South Dakota.

“Then, when lawmakers go out of state to ALEC conventions, South Dakota will foot the travel bill, too.

 

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?