NRA

ALEC Posts Legislative Agendas while Hiding Its Very Special Interests

ALEC Posts Legislative Agendas while Hiding Its Very Special Interests

From Center for Media and Democracy, by Nick Surgey

A reminder from VLTP Executive Director to protesters, activists and organized labor…ALEC’s “States and Nation Policy Summit” will be in DC this year in less than a month.  VLTP is hopeful that there will be another anti-ALEC organized demonstration, teach-in and a rally similar to those held in Phoenix, Oklahoma City and Chicago.  Due to the pressures exerted by numerous watchdog groups, legislative activists and researchers, ALEC has scheduled this last 2013 event close to their headquarters in DC – possibly in the hope many will find traveling to the Capital in December difficult.  However, the fact that DC is ALEC’s “Home Turf” we can once again bring protests literally to their doorstep, in the media spotlight that is our Nation’s capital.

bush_alec_rect-460x307Boehner at ALEC

These “Summits” are events attended by key GOP members who speak to the entire membership, encouraging them to “keep up the good work” advancing ALEC’s narrow and oppressive conservative agenda.  This year Senator Ted Cruz is reportedly one such high profile attendee.  Indiana Governor Mike Pence is to speak as well.

 

 

 

Cantor at ALECCheney Jefferson Award at alecPast speakers and influential attendees include, Former President, George W. Bush, former VP, Dick Cheney, House Speaker Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Presidential hopefuls such as Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Herman Cain.

Together these high ranking GOP members, elected members of Congress and presidential candidates serve up marching orders for ALEC’s conservative legislative membership for the upcoming year.

This time, PRWatch has once again secured critical ALEC material for us to read and review.  Through such work, ALEC is no longer able to hide in the shadows, scripting legislative pursuits sought by corporate interests and pursued by your elected state representatives and unknown to voters until the legislation sweeps through their statehouses, becoming law.

Below is an excerpt from Nick Surgey’s excellent article about the materials, proposed legislation and activities that will take place in December:

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has quietly published some agenda details of its corporate-legislator task forces for its upcoming meeting, while keeping the identities of the corporate lobbyists or special interest groups that drafted any of the bills secret.

ALEC Exposed - A project of CMDThe conference in Washington, DC, in December will include a raft of proposed “model” bills to rollback the clock, including limiting the power of the Environmental Protection Agency, undermining the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and cutting federal funding of the states.

Without fanfare, ALEC has posted slimmed-down versions of the agenda material for its task forces, providing the names of new model bills, and language for some bills in full, as well as the title of presentations at ALEC’s closed-door task force meetings where corporate lobbyists secretly vote as equals with state legislators. The documents provide some insight into some of the items that may be on ALEC’s legislative agenda for when state legislative sessions resume in January 2014. CMD recently filed hundreds of public record requests with state legislators in six states, specifically asking for these materials and ALEC’s emails to lawmakers, a tactic CMD has successfully deployed to obtain materials ALEC has sent to legislators as part of its efforts to get laws changed. This latest release by ALEC is likely a response to this success, but the materials released this past week omit key details compared with past materials obtained by CMD…

…Although ALEC has launched a new charm offensive touting its supposed transparency, as CMD’s General Counsel Brendan Fischer has noted, “transparency laws are not premised on permitting a group or legislator to pick and choose which communications to legislators will or will not be made public.” ALEC has also reportedly claimed recently that only legislators will “sponsor” bills voted on at ALEC task forces; however, that sort of window dressing does not actually mean the bills were not pre-written by corporate lobbyists and special interest groups. It also does not negate the powerful role that unelected private sector representatives play in ALEC task forces as equals to lawmakers elected to represent their own constituents back home…

Read the full Surgey article -> HERE <- which includes links to past articles on this topic and to the actual material distributed by ALEC in preparation for the December States and Nation Summit held at the Grand Hyatt hotel, 1000 H Street, NW Washington, D.C. 20001 

 

U.S. Senate Holds Hearing on ALEC, Corporate Involvement and Stand Your Ground Laws

U.S. Senate Holds Hearing on ALEC, Corporate Involvement and Stand Your Ground Laws

Today the long awaited Senate hearing on Stand Your Ground laws and the involvement of the “bill mill”; American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in adopting, proposing and disseminating model legislation such as the SYG laws, was held in Washington.  This hearing is remarkable – not just because the Senate is holding discussions about this legislation which is now the law in many states – but because it is the first ever acknowledgement of the existence of ALEC and their legislative activities and influences by any government body.

Whether Congress realized it or not at the core of the “need” for this hearing, are the existence and acts of an organization that until recently has remained hidden from the view of government and citizens alike.  An organization that has had possibly the largest influence upon enactment of state and federal law since the mid 1970’s.  Creating laws that specifically benefit corporations and business interests to the detriment of the public and constituents of lawmakers owned by ALEC through loyal membership in that organization – and a “duty” to advance all legislation proposed by it.

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ALEC’s corporate member representatives did not take part in the hearing and offered no testimony – but certain Senators seemingly “owned” by corporate money spoke on their behalf.  Chief among those speaking favorably for corporate interests and in favor of SYG laws?  GOP Senators Cruz, Graham and Gohmert.  Senator Cruz voiced his opinion that Senator Durbin’s request made of ALEC corporate members or supporters, to respond and state their position in support or opposition of ALEC’s Stand Your Ground model legislation…was nothing more than a witch hunt being used to “chill” the first amendment rights of corporations.  

(How far corporate person-hood has advanced since the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United.  Today corporations enjoy the same rights as human citizens…except for the ability to be held accountable, arrested, incarcerated and imprisoned for criminal acts committed behind a convenient corporate veil.)

Cruz voiced sympathy for the family of Trayvon Martin, who was killed by George Zimmerman in the highly publicized Florida case last year, then went on to proclaim that many organizations and others were using that case to advance arguments of “perceived” racial prejudice and for “political gain”.

However, Senator Durbin made clear that of the 140 corporate members contacted and asked if they supported or opposed ALEC’s SYG model legislation, only 1 responded in support of it.

The following excerpts are from the Center for Media and Democracy.  This was published by CMD today and due to the article’s relevance to this important issue should be read in its entirety…

CMD Submits Testimony to U.S. Senate on ALEC and “Stand Your Ground

by Lisa Graves, Executive Director, at the Center for Media and Democracy

Mr. Chairman, and Members of the Committee, my name is Lisa Graves, and I am the Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy, the publisher of PRWatch.org, ALECexposed.org, SourceWatch.org, and BanksterUSA.org. The organization I lead is a national investigative watchdog group based in Madison, Wisconsin, that has more than 150,000 supporters.

I previously served as the Chief Counsel for Nominations for the Chairman and then Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy. I also served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Policy/Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Justice and as the Deputy Chief of the Article III Judges Division of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, in addition to other posts in the non-profit sector on national security issues.

I commend the Committee, and its Chairman, for holding this hearing to examine the deadly consequences of so-called “Stand Your Ground” (SYG) laws that have proliferated in the states since 2005, at the urging of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

SYG laws were peddled by the NRA and ALEC alongside bills to expand the number of people carrying concealed firearms, creating a volatile combination that puts more and more American children and adults at risk of being shot and killed. This Committee has held countless hearings over the years on both federal and state crime policies that affect the rights of Americans, and it is fitting that the Senate examine SYG and the organizations that have urged that SYG become binding law.

I am especially concerned about the activities of ALEC to push the NRA’s agenda into law because ALEC has routinely filed tax returns with the IRS claiming it engages in no lobbying, zero. Yet, ALEC and its agents have routinely bragged about getting SYG introduced and passed – the very definition of lobbying – while claiming to the IRS and the public that it spends not a single dollar on lobbying. Today, I will describe the evidence that shows that ALEC is no ordinary non-profit and the ways in which it has misled the public about the true nature of its activities.

I will also detail the role of the NRA in ALEC and ALEC’s role in pushing for SYG laws. I will also discuss the effect of the three main parts of that law, and how that law affected the initial treatment of George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin; how it affected the trial; and how it may affect a civil suit.

In an accompanying appendix to the statement I am submitting for the record, I also describe the role of corporations, such as Koch Industries, and numerous other grantees of the Koch family fortune in advancing the ALEC corporate agenda, along with other aspects of ALEC’s legacy, such as efforts to make it harder for American citizens to vote, as well as its current legislative agenda…

…ALEC describes itself as the largest voluntary group of state legislators in the country, but it is really a corporate-financed lobby that facilitates getting special interest legislation into the hands of lawmakers from every state in the country. In the words of Bill Moyers, ALEC is “the most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has never heard of” as noted in the “United States of ALEC…”

…ALEC is the epitome of a pay-to-play operation that gives special interests special access, but the way it conducts its operations is very unusual and troubling. That is why ALEC is subject to no fewer than three separate tax fraud complaints to the IRS, with supporting evidence provided by four groups: Common Cause, Clergy Voice, the Voters Legislative Transparency Project, and my organization, CMD…

ALEC Is Subject to Three Complaints Alleging Tax Fraud

  1. ALEC is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which means that corporations can theoretically deduct the thousands of dollars they pay ALEC to get their legislative wish lists in the hands of lawmakers. ALEC has routinely told the IRS that it engages in zero lobbying, even though numerous communications have been obtained through open records requests and other sources that show ALEC asking for legislation to be introduced, urging that specific legislation be adopted, and taking credit when its legislation becomes law. ALEC is no “charity” – it is a lobby that has routinely boasted to its corporate members that each year nearly 1,000 ALEC bills are introduced in state legislatures and nearly 20% become law…
  2. A review of ALEC task forces by CMD revealed that almost all of the for-profit corporations that participate in ALEC task forces are represented by their registered lobbyists or are described by their employers as their “government affairs” staffer within the corporation’s internal lobbying shop. CMD and Common Cause have also obtained documents showing that corporations have secretly and routinely sponsored bills at ALEC Task Force meetings and then voted on those bills with legislators at ALEC meetings. Under ALEC’s published bylaws, its state legislative leaders are tasked with a “duty” to get ALEC bills “introduced,” and they do. Some ALEC corporations then lobby for them without disclosing they pre-voted on them.

ALEC has repeatedly claimed to the IRS that it spends no money on travel for federal or state officials, but CMD has extensively documented that these claims are also contrary to the evidence. DBA Press and CMD obtained a three-year spreadsheet of corporate funding for trips by lawmakers along with the names of every corporation that funded the trips and all of the lawmakers who took them…

 …VLTP’s Bob Sloan has filed an IRS whistleblower complaint against ALEC based primarily on its scholarship program. Clergy Voice also complained about ALEC’s non-disclosed lobbying and how donations bring lawmakers to meet with corporate lobbyists and ALEC meetings while giving the corporations a tax write-off.

Additionally, CMD and Common Cause recently submitted supplemental evidence to the IRS in support of the initial complaint filed by Common Cause’s Mr. Edgar after CMD launched ALECexposed in July 2013. The supplemental filing last month provided the IRS with numerous documents obtained by DBA Press, CMD, and Common Cause in a number of states that show that ALEC has spent a projected $2 million for lawmaker travel in recent years on the state “scholarship” travel alone – in addition to more sums for lawmaker travel via the ALEC task forces. CMD and Common Cause have also asked each state Attorney General to examine whether ALEC is operating in violation of state law.

ALEC’s Corporate Funders Were Well Known before this Hearing

Accordingly, it is astonishing ALEC and a small number of its legislators – many of whom get their trips to ALEC resort meetings paid for by corporations, whose identities are well known to them – are taking umbrage at this Committee for inquiring about ALEC’s legislative agenda and which corporations have bankrolled it. The lawmakers know who funds ALEC’s bill machine and their trips, but until we launched ALECexposed two years ago, the public was largely in the dark about these special interests and the one-stop shopping ALEC provides for corporations and trade groups to secretly advance the same cookie-cutter bills in nearly every state.

Despite the hoopla trumped up over Senator Durbin’s letter, quite frankly, every single for-profit and non-profit corporation this Committee asked about its support for ALEC and its long-standing gun agenda is a corporation that is publicly known to have funded ALEC or participated in its meetings about bills, based on the investigative research of CMD, along with others like Common Cause, DBA Press, VLTP, CAP, Greenpeace, bloggers at Daily Kos, and many, many ordinary citizen sleuths…

Please take the time to read the full CMD testimony provided to the U.S. Senate by Lisa Graves and CMD -> HERE <-

 

ALEC Cabal News, Articles and Material for the week of July 22 – 29th

ALEC Cabal News, Articles and Material for the week of July 22 – 29th

by Bob Sloan

Much ALEC news this week as activists and organizations gear up to take on ALEC in Chicago – the city of ALEC’s “Birth” in 1973…Click on a headline to read the full article.

Dick Durbin to Hold Senate Hearings on ALEC, the NRA, and “Stand Your Ground”

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced Friday that he will hold hearings this fall on the role of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the NRA in spreading “Stand Your Ground” laws across the country, which the Center for Media and Democracy uncovered last year, after launching ALECexposed.org.

Sen. Durbin’s Senate Judiciary subcommittee will hear testimony on the NRA-backed legislation, which has become law in over two dozen states since being adopted as a “model” by ALEC in 2005.

The announcement comes six days after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the killing of Trayvon Martin. Florida’s Stand Your Ground law was initially cited to protect Zimmerman from arrest, and the jury was instructed to consider Stand Your Ground when deciding his fate, even though the defense did not request a ruling under the law’s criminal immunity provisions. The one juror who has spoken publicly said that the state’s Stand Your Ground law influenced their decision to acquit. As CMD’s Executive Director Lisa Graveshas documented, the NRA played a key role in approving those jury instructions, in addition to helping initially draft the Stand Your Ground law and taking it to ALEC to become a “model” for the nation.

Koch-Funded Climate Contrarians Make Mischief on Capitol Hill

With Congress about to head out of town for its summer recess, a Washington-based think tank is ramping up a campaign to foil any attempts to institute a tax on carbon emissions,The Hill, a Washington political trade publication, reported this week.

“We’re hoping to put the final nail in the coffin of the carbon tax,” said Benjamin Cole, the communications director for the Institute for Energy Research (IER) and its advocacy arm, the American Energy Alliance (AEA). “The proposal should be dead on arrival by the time lawmakers come back from August recess.”

Over the last decade or so, IER and AEA have received hundreds of thousands of dollars from ExxonMobil; the American Petroleum Institute (API), the oil and gas industry’s trade association; the Center to Protect Patient Rights, a secretive nonprofit group linked to Charles Koch and his brother David, the billionaire owners of the coal, oil and gas behemoth Koch Industries; and the Charles Koch-controlled Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, one of a handful of Koch family funds.

Top IER-AEA officials also are well-entrenched members of the Koch brothers’ climate change contrarian network. IER and AEA President Thomas Pyle, for example, is a former lobbyist for Koch Industries and the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. IER and AEA Director of Regulatory and State Affairs Daniel Simmons, meanwhile, worked for the API-, ExxonMobil- and Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a stealthy lobby group that has been trying to repeal state standards requiring electric utilities to use more renewable energy. Before his stint as director of ALEC’s Natural Resources Task Force, Simmons was a research fellow at the Koch-founded and funded Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Not to be outdone, IER founder and CEO Robert L. Bradley, Jr. — a former public policy analysis director at the now-defunct Enron Corp. — is an adjunct scholar at the Koch-founded and funded Cato Institute and the API- and Koch-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute. He also has been a featured speaker at the API- and Koch-funded Heartland Institute’s annual climate science-bashing conference, and is a member of the academic review committee at the Koch-funded Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason. The Institute for Humane Studies’ chairman, I should add, is Charles Koch.

New Normal Growth, Or A New Social Contract

…For starters, this includes opposing the attacks on collective bargaining rights, particularly in the 27 right-to-work-states mainly in the Midwest and South that also oppose unions that support collective bargaining. Austerians should also oppose wealth-limiting legislation put out by ALEC, or the American Legislative Exchange Council, such as privatizing public education, limiting voter rights, as well as legislation that severely reduces corporate regulation and taxation, which has given Big Business even more leverage over their employees welfare and standard of living.

So there is a lesson to be learned here. Any social contract requires a quid pro quo to survive. If corporations and Big Business wish to limit government reach and spending, they will have to tolerate higher wages and living standards for their workers. Otherwise, we know from past history–even current history–what happens when a social contract is broken.

The Gunshine State

When it comes to lax gun laws and frequent gun violence, Florida is an epidemic in itself. Editorialists, op?ed writers and journalists in the state’s own newspapers regularly mock it as the “Gunshine State.” The sarcastic phrase is a verbal play on Florida’s official nickname, “The Sunshine State,” adopted by the state legislature in 1970. The mockery is well earned. The state’s compliant legislature has been used for several decades as a Petri dish by the gun-mad scientists of the NRA’s lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA).

Some have shrugged and concluded that Florida’s inert citizenry gets the kind of weak gun laws it deserves. But these virulent ideas — from Florida’s pioneering “shall issue” concealed-carry- permit law to the misshapen monster twins of its “castle doctrine” and “stand your ground” laws — have been injected into the veins of scores of other state legislatures all over the country. The NRA, packaging its poison in the back rooms of a slick and well-funded network of right-wing legislators known as ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, has already pushed two great waves of ill-advised and poorly considered legislation into American life. The first was a nationwide weakening of state concealed-carry laws; the second, a combination of the “shoot first” castle doctrine and the “shoot anywhere” stand-your-ground laws. 

Dark clouds of yesteryear return to threaten right to vote

Only the civil rights revolution of the 1960s, capped off by the broad federally enforced protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, finally brought justice. “The arc of the moral universe,” Martin Luther King Jr. could assert, “is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Yet today that justice — the right of free and full access to the ballot box for Americans, regardless of race, class, wealth or status — is again in doubt.

Almost immediately after the Supreme Court’s recent decision gutting major portions of the Voting Rights Act, six states of the old Confederacy — Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina and Virginia — moved quickly to impose voter photo ID and other restrictive voting requirements to which the Justice Department had taken exception.

The argument for voter IDs is that states must guard against impersonation and other flagrant voter fraud. But repeated studies show those offenses are so minuscule that they border on the nonexistent. The real reason for the new voter ID laws is no mystery. It’s a deliberate effort to reduce voting by minorities, students and low-income citizens — constituencies deemed likely to vote for liberal candidates.

Today’s voter suppression effort originated with ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), an organization backed by the billionaire Koch brothers and major corporate interests. And now it’s being pushed by a Republican Party that seems turned 180 degrees from its 19th-century birth as the agent of liberty and the franchise for African-Americans.

Alarmingly, I see the historic march to a liberated, rights-for-all voting order in America that inspired so many of us in the civil rights era being deliberately sabotaged for partisan, economic and ideological motives.

Exposing Arizona’s Political Corruption

The Arizona Advocacy Network Foundation has added several more dates and locations for this presentation. http://www.azadvocacy.org/forums-a-events/upcoming-event-details

ALEC

WHAT: Join Arizona Advocacy Network Foundation to expose how lobbyists and Big Money buy favor with officials at the our expense. We begin with a special showing of Bill Moyers’ United States of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), exposing how Big Money uses campaign cash and freebies to buy access to OUR tax dollars for greater profit at the expense of jobs and voter priorities. We then highlight important bills being voted on by the legislature and Congress on Clean Elections, other political anti-corruption/conflict of interests bills, voting rights and election administration. Learn more about our March 18, 2013 U.S. Supreme Court hearing to defend every eligible citizen’s right to register to vote without the barriers Arizona politicians keep in place.

ALEC Determined to Spread For-Profit Education Nationwide

Schools nation-wide are considering bills promoting for-profit education, designed by corporate bill mill, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). According to The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), at least 139 ALEC-designed bills have been introduced across 43 states just within the last 6 months. Of those, 31 have become law.

The CMD report, “Cashing in on Kids,” states that programs designed to divert taxpayer money from public schools to private and religious schools have been spreading across the country for over two decades. Milwaukee became the first U.S. city to implement a school voucher program in 1990, under then-governor Tommy Thompson, who was closely involved with ALEC.

“For-profit schools in Wisconsin now receive up to $6,442 per voucher student, and by the end of the next school year taxpayers in the state will have transferred an estimated $1.8 billion to for-profit, religious, and online schools,” the report states.

This Land is your Land, this Land is Gas Land

The Obama Administration has proposed new regulations for hydraulic fracturing on 756 million acres of public and tribal lands. The rules were written by the drilling industry and will be streamlined into effect by a new intergovernmental taskforce established by the president, to promote fracking — a practice that has been linked to water poisoning, air pollution, methane emissions and, most recently, earthquakes.

White House visitor logs show the president’s top adviser on energy and climate, Heather Zichal, met with the American Petroleum Institute, the Independent Petroleum Association of America and other industry groups 20 times last year in the run up to the rules proposal. They were further honed to industry specifications in a series of meetings between the oil and gas lobby and the White House Office of Budget Management, and are based on a piece of model legislation authored by Exxon for the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Under the rules, drillers will report chemicals used in fracking to an industry run site, FracFocus.org, already used in Pennsylvania and other states. The disclosures won’t need to be made until after a well is fracked. Nor will they be vetted for accuracy. Certain chemicals won’t even be disclosed at all, since they constitute alleged trade secrets. Furthermore, the rules would sanction drilling in close proximity to homes and schools, as well as allow wastewater — the toxic byproduct the of fracking — to be stored in open, outdoor pits. 

The impacts of privatizing the turnpike

“We are privatizing ourselves into one disaster after another,” veteran journalist Ted Koppel said recently on NPR. “We’ve privatized a lot of what our military is doing. We’ve privatized a lot of what our intelligence agencies are doing. We’ve privatized our very prison system in many parts of the country. We’re privatizing the health system within those prisons. And it’s not working well.”

The privateers have an army of contractors, consultants, think tanks (with the Reason Foundation in the lead) and lobbyists. In particular, they see the country’s huge aging transportation infrastructure as a great money-making opportunity. Our roads and bridges are crumbling, and traffic congestion is widespread. The federal highway trust fund is running out of money.

This is a “public-private partnership,” or P3, which is a concept pushed by an infrastructure-industrial complex composed of global construction corporations, investment banks, private-equity firms and elite law firms organized as vertically integrated consortiums. The influential American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has pushed “model legislation” for P3s in statehouses across the nation. 

Voter ID: How did we get here? Part I

…We’re just going to assume Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (D-Butler) was thinking of the founders when he introduced his Voter ID legislation in 2011, using that specific aerial section of the Constitution as justification.

“Currently in Pennsylvania, it’s impossible to board a commercial airplane, cash a paycheck, operate a motor vehicle or even purchase season passes to a neighborhood swimming pool…without displaying a valid photo ID,” he wrote on his website upon introducing House Bill 934, the Pennsylvania Voter Identification and Protection Act, in 2011.

His bill would require all commonwealth citizens to show a state-issued ID at their respective polling places come election day.

The Pennsylvania legislation, modeled on an Indiana law passed in 2005 and pushed forward by the American Legislative Exchange Council, had a high price tag. And not just because it was a waste of everyone’s time as Pennsylvania’s full-time Legislature earned their hefty full-time paychecks.

 Gerald Meier: It’s government by and for the few in Wisconsin

Dear Editor: Our forefathers established a democracy so we would have a government of the people, by the people and for the people. What we have now is a government of the few, by the few and for the few, and this is not only true in Washington, but unfortunately, especially true here in Wisconsin. We do not have a state Legislature but a Midwestern branch of the Koch brothers-influenced American Legislative Exchange Council. If you read their wish list, it sounds much like Wisconsin’s budget. It must be great for them that what they spent in Wisconsin is working out so well.

We should respect the Kochs, as they made their billions the good old-fashioned way; they inherited it from their oil baron father. Who can blame them for wanting to keep as much of it as possible? Fortunately for us, they have chosen to dole out some of their vast fortune to our governor and his chosen legislators. These are great times for the “few brothers.”

George Zimmerman, off the hook

http://vimeo.com/fiorecartoons/george-zimmerman-off-the-hook to watch a video on stand your ground and ALEC…

The George Zimmerman trial was about much more than race.  In fact, while everyone was talking about racial issues surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin, the jury was guided by metastasizing Stand-Your-Ground laws.  You need look no further than the jury instructions to find the power of the NRA and ALEC.

The defense in the Zimmerman trial was able to put the burden of proof on the victim, Trayvon Martin.  The question became, what had this unarmed teenager done to scare an armed man who was following him, not, why did the armed man follow and kill the unarmed teen?  The guy with the gun had more legal protections than the unarmed kid.  What would happen if we expanded these gun rights even further?  That’s where Shoot-em-up Charlie comes in.

If you dig a little deeper, you’ll find there are cases that are even more awful than the Zimmerman case.  While Shoot-em-up Charlie takes the lead on this cartoon, stick around at the end to listen to a truly disturbing 911 call from a man about to put these new laws into action.

Be sure to comment, like, share and do all that good social media stuff so more people can see this cartoon and we’ll continue to have a discussion about these ridiculous laws.

‘Stand Your Ground’ group pushes privatization of public education

The group behind “Stand Your Ground” laws in a number of states has been mighty busy working to get laws passed in the area of school reform — and the aim has been the privatization of public education.

That group is the American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC, which likes to call itself a “nonpartisan public-private partnership” but is actually a corporate-backed enterprise that writes “model legislation” that its membership of nearly 2,000 conservative legislators use in states to pass laws that promote privatization in every part of American life: education, health care, the environment, the economy, etc.

Bill Moyers, in a program called “United States of ALEC,”  “the most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has never heard of,” one with a “vast network of corporate lobbying and political action aimed to increase corporate profits at public expense without public knowledge.”

SCOTUS v. the Right to Vote: Three Strikes, but We’re Not Out

“Supreme Court Shreds Key Provision of the Voting Rights Act” was a typical news headline June 26, this one from the National Journal. According to Vermont’s Patrick Leahy, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, the court’s decision in the case known as Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, Attorney General, et al. “effectively struck down the core” of the law. [1] “Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act has protected minorities of all races from discriminatory practices in voting for nearly 50 years,” Leahy explained, “yet the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the coverage formula effectively guts the ability of Section 5 to protect voters from discriminatory practices.” Rep. John Lewis said the court’s decision “put a dagger in the heart” of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The 5-4 decision has been widely condemned, but undoing the damage anytime soon will be difficult.

Even so, an earlier and less well-known Supreme Court decision competes with these two for the damage it has done to electoral democracy. The Court’s 2008 ruling in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board upheld a restrictive Indiana voter ID law. This cleared the way for a flood of state laws making it harder for many low-income and minority citizens to vote. Widely promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing think tank that produces “model” legislation for state legislatures, ID requirements and other restrictive voting laws plagued the 2012 elections in more than 30 states.

Point Austin: United Defense of the Fetus

Early in last Friday’s Senate debate over the anti-abortion bill (HB 2), the bill’s sponsor, Katy Republican Glenn Hegar (author of the Senate companion), was asked if anyone or “any organization” had asked him to file his bill. Hegar said no, that he had authored the bill on his own, and that he doesn’t look to anyone “outside the Senate” when drafting legislation. It was a predictable question and an equally predictable answer. The question raises the specter of undue outside influence, and unless it’s their direct constituents, legislators do not want to be seen as taking direction from lobbyists or special interest organizations.

Yet it doesn’t take great insight to connect the dots from Hegar’s bill and its House counterpart, carried by Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, to the national organizations that have been promoting – indeed, drafting – this kind of legislation for legislatures across the country. Similar bills have been filed or passed in Indiana, North Dakota, North Carolina, Wisconsin, etc. According to Bloomberg Businessweek (July 11), “In the first six months of 2013, 17 states passed a total of 45 new restrictions on abortion.”

The most notorious national “bill mill” is the corporate-driven American Legislative Exchange Council, which specializes in conservative economic legislation – Lauben­berg, in no coincidence, is the Texas ALEC chair. In the past, ALEC occasionally promoted anti-abortion legislation, but now largely leaves that task to AUL. AUL annually issues a massive manual, Defending Life, filled with tendentious “scholarship” purporting to document such dubious notions as “fetal pain” before viability (the presumed justification for the 20-week abortion limit) and the repeatedly discredited connection between abortions and breast cancer that remains part of the Texas “Woman’s Right to Know” pamphlet that must be provided by clinics to women seeking abortion. AUL also ranks states according to their success in restricting abortion; before last week’s ramrodding of HB 2, Texas was 14th, so we can presume Gov. Perry can wave a higher ranking in his next failed presidential primary campaign.

 

 

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

05/05 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.

Scientific American: North Carolina legislators make end-run on science and renewable energy

From “The Raw Story”

North Carolina Republicans push through anti-renewable energy bill in ‘banana republic’ vote:

“Democrats in North Carolina say they could have defeated a bill to repeal renewable energy subsidies on Wednesday if Republicans had not pushed it through committee without counting the votes.

The state Senate Finance Committee debated the bill to end the state’s 6-year-old renewable energy program for over 40 minutes before Republican chairman Bill Rabon called for a motion. … “North Carolina is not a banana republic,” Sen. Josh Stein (D) complained following the hearing. “That was no way to run a proceeding.”

Environmental advocates have suggested that Republicans based the bill on model legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Republican state Rep. Mike Hager, who authored the bill, is an ALEC member.

Moffitt skips House session to attend conservative conference

ASHEVILLE — Rep. Tim Moffitt skipped a session of the state House, along with Republican Speaker Thom Tillis, to attend a conference of a controversial pro-business group in Oklahoma.

Moffitt, R-Asheville, was recently appointed to the board of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group that supports limited government and free markets. Tillis is also a board member.

Ag-Gag Laws Could Make America Sick

Against these criticisms, farm industry advocates argue that activists often misportray what actually happens on farms, turning isolated incidents into inflammatory narratives of routine abuse that further anti-meat-eating goals. The industry also portrays undercover video-taking as a violation of farmer rights.

“At the end of the day it’s about personal property rights or the individual right to privacy,” said Bill Meierling, a spokesman for the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative business group that drafted the model for many of the ag-gag laws, to the Associated Press. “You wouldn’t want me coming into your home with a hidden camera.”

Exposed: How Murdoch, Bill Gates and Big Corporations are Data Mining our Schools

Besides New York and Louisiana, inBloom has contracts with seven other states. All are part of the Shared Learning Collaborative, a pilot program set up by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to help implement Common Core standards through the tracking of student data. The Council of Chiefs, also a non-profit, is composed of the heads of America’s state school systems who work together with corporations to collectively design education policy, in mold of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. 

North Carolina Republicans push through anti-renewable energy bill in ‘banana republic’ vote

“Democrats in North Carolina say they could have defeated a bill to repeal renewable energy subsidies on Wednesday if Republicans had not pushed it through committee without counting the votes.

“Environmental advocates have suggested that Republicans based the bill on model legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Republican state Rep. Mike Hager, who authored the bill, is an ALEC member.

The Future of the Climate Debate Is in the Laboratories of Democracy

“A key fight over efforts to curb climate change is happening in the relative anonymity of various state legislatures. This week, Colorado voted to increase its use of renewable energy, while the North Carolina State Senate voted to do the opposite. But only one side won.

“Opponents in North Carolina were bolstered by support from various conservative groups, a number of which have made the repeal of renewable standards a key priority. The News & Observer notes that “American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform and The Heartland Institute are among the organizations pushing to make North Carolina a testing ground for rolling back policies that favor renewable energy.” Those groups aren’t alone. The conservative American Legislative Exchange Council has similarly targeted the policies, prompting a number of renewable companies to end their memberships. Several of the organizations, including ALEC and the Heartland Institute have ties to the fossil fuel industry — which supports rollbacks of renewable energy standards for fairly obvious reasons.” 

Fossil Fuel Empire Strikes Back…At Clean Energy

Front Groups do the Dirty Work for Oil and Gas Industry

“So far, 29 states have implemented Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) programs that require increased production of energy from renewable sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass. They’ve been adopted in red states and blue – from California to Texas to Maine – through democratic processes and with popular support. RPS programs have helped jumpstart an industry that is spurring economic development, creating American jobs, boosting energy independence and cutting our carbon footprint.

“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.” 

State House leaders off to ALEC

“As House lawmakers debated whether to halve the number of North Carolina children eligible for free pre-kindergarten, several key members were missing from the chamber.

“House Speaker Thom Tillis, Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe, and Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, left early Thursday to attend the ALEC Spring Task Force meeting in Oklahoma City, scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

“According to Tillis spokesman Jordan Shaw, the only state funds spent were for registration fees – a practice also extended for legislators’ trips to other conferences, like the National Conference of State Legislators.

“ALEC, or the American Legislative Exchange Council, describes itself as a free-market, limited-government group.”

Nullification: How States Are Making It a Felony to Enforce Federal Gun Laws

“In mid-April, Kansas passed a law asserting that federal gun regulations do not apply to guns made and owned in Kansas. Under the law, Kansans could manufacture and sell semi-automatic weapons in-state without a federal license or any federal oversight.

“Kansas’ “Second Amendment Protection Act” backs up its states’ rights claims with a penalty aimed at federal agents: when dealing with “Made in Kansas” guns, any attempt to enforce federal law is now a felony. Bills similar to Kansas’ law have been introduced in at least 37 other states. An even broader bill is on the desk of Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell. That bill would exempt any gun owned by an Alaskan from federal regulation. In Missouri, a bill declaring federal gun laws “null and void” passed by an overwhelming majority in the state house, and is headed for debate in the senate.”

International:

More US companies looking to relocate to Britain to dodge corporate tax.

Firms rush to relocate in low-tax Britain

More than 40 multinational companies have inquired about relocating their headquarters to the UK because of the cuts in corporation tax.

Steve Varley, the UK chairman of Ernst & Young, revealed that the accountancy firm knew of the significant number of firms seeking to relocate from countries such as the USA, as well as from the Netherlands, Switzerland and Ireland.

The high figure will be a boost to George Osborne, the Chancellor, who has made Britain’s lower rates of corporation tax a centrepiece of Government policy. The advertising giant, WPP, recently announced that it would move back to the UK from its present headquarters in Dublin.

“I know of more than 40 multinational companies that have been looking to undertake global and regional headquarter relocations into Britain,” Mr Varley said.

Are renewables doomed to failure in Australia?

“Across the United States right now, a pitched battle is being fought over the future of renewable energy targets in the 29 states that have them. Already, 16 of these states are considering legislation – templated by a fossil fuel-sponsored lobby group, the American Legislative Exchange Council – to repeal or dilute the ambition of renewable standards.

“So far, the campaign – boosted by Tea Party radicals in the Republican movement – has not been successful. In the past week, North Carolina rejected the idea after leading utilities such as Duke Energy, and big data centre operators such as Apple and Google expressed their support for wind and solar projects.

“The new energy minister in WA, Mike Nahan, has upped the ante – possibly in anticipation of the Coalition winning the federal poll in September.

“Nahan is an interesting choice as energy minister. For supporters of renewable energy, he’s actually quite a frightening one.

“The American-born Nahan is a former executive director of the conservative, pro-market, anti-renewable think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs, which is so intertwined with conservative policy making that many Coalition politicians refer journalists to the IPA for comment on issues such as energy and climate.

“A collection of Nahan’s thoughts on climate and energy can be found on the IPA website as, like his contemporaries and successors, he was a prolific contributor to (mostly Murdoch-owned) newspapers. They give an interesting insight into his views on all things climate, energy and environment.”

Darden Restaurants Dumps ALEC in Favor of National Restaurant Assoc.

Darden Restaurants Dumps ALEC in Favor of National Restaurant Assoc.

From PRWatch by Rebekah Wilce

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reports that Darden Restaurants which operates Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and other chain restaurants has stated they have not renewed their ALEC membership as of 2010.  Darden representative Rich Jeffers, Director of Media Relations told CMD that the company had not renewed its ALEC membership since January 2010 because it “felt that different organizations like the National Restaurant Association would . . . serve us best.”

Unfortunately the “other NRA” continues to be a member of ALEC so Darden will still have representation within ALEC’s task forces and working group through representation by the National Restaurant Association. This NRA is involved in pursuing “ag-gag” bills and legislation eliminating paid sick days or leave for employees.

Read the full CMD article <- here ->

Conservative plans to oppose wind power – Using the Conservative Template for PR/Propaganda

This strategy document calls for a national PR campaign aimed at causing ‘subversion … so that it effectively becomes so bad that no one wants to admit in public they are for it’.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
UPDATED

…been thinking a lot about this post from earlier today. So much that I’ve changed the title with this update…This is such valuable information for environmentalists and other who believe in the need for renewable, “green” energy…but…deja vu all over again

VLTP has covered the conservative echo chamber and the way that the radical right uses it to sell their ideas to people who believe easy talking points and as easily-digested an explanation as possible.  But I’ve never seen the template, the modus operandus (part of the ALEC DNA)  spelled out this concisely before by a conservative source.

Amazingly, this strategy has worked for so long – and it still works.  It Still Works.  When will the media realize that they are being used to manipulate the American people?

Oops.  Forgot.  The myth of the “liberal” media.

Take a look at the list of ALEC’s Corporate Members from CMD’s SourceWatch (click here to refresh your memory).  Major networks.  Major newspapers.  Major publishers.  Major advertisers.

Catch the ads from ALEC’s Corporate Members all over the prime time on t MSNBC, as well as on the MSNBC web site.  What happened to Current TV?  Could it have been their advertising stance?

Aaron Sorkin got it right-on when he wrote this into his fictional HBO series, Newsroom. Click here to watch a key scene about how economic pressure could be used to quiet the way the medium is used to convey the message (apologies to Marshall McLuhan).

To get back on point, tonight’s evening news was airing a report on the NRA’s ongoing fight against gun control.  All I could think was how simple it would be to substitute the NRA, gun control, and Wayne LaPierre for those who oppose green energy in the article below.

In Australia they are currently fighting the Tobacco War, much as we did here years ago.  ALEC is there with their local members – including Sen. Cory Bernardi –using the playbook developed here.  A key part of their strategy is a PR campaign based on the same template that produced the National Campaign Strategy in the article below.

You can easily see the PR/Propaganda Template below in this report from The Guardian, U.K.

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Conservative plans to oppose wind power – memo

(This) Strategy document calls for a national PR campaign aimed at causing ‘subversion … so that it effectively becomes so bad that no one wants to admit in public they are for it’.

alecfossilfuelfunders

(here is the downloaded text file of campaign plans.  Emphasis added by me)

1: NATIONAL PR CAMPAIGN PROPOSAL
Draft from Rich Porter: 4/25/11.  Edited by John Droz: 1/23/12
— CONFIDENTIAL —

PR Audiences:

Policy/Political,
Local-State-Federal,
Landowner/Lease Grantor,
General Public (including non-rural population),
Tax Payer,
Utility Rate Payer,
Business Owner,
Media Academics,
Students

PR Strategy:

Create a national professional Public Relations (PR) campaign to effectively communicate with the selected audiences using targeted messages.   Have a consistent, positive, national message.  Be FOR something (e.g. Science), not AGAINST something (e.g. wind energy). Be proactive vs reactive. 

The minimum national PR campaign goal is to constructively influence national and state wind energy policies. A broader possible goal is to constructively influence national and state energy and environmental policies. Resolve: are our interests just wind energy, or broader?

The goal will be realized by coordination of a focused message along many channels and with multiple voices. The intent is to target the identified audiences with consistent messaging to create positive change.  Public opinion must begin to change among citizens at large. Create a grass-roots ground swell from which the clamor for change will reach the elected officials and policy-makers.

The message will be determined from a variety of analysis techniques including inputs from local groups and others who have an interest in spreading the message. The message will be tested for resonance with the audiences, and the dynamic of the audience shall be periodically assessed.

In addition to have the appropriate message, it needs to be communicated optimally.

We need to study and apply good communication skills.

Decide whether or not a national organization is advisable as well
(Part 2).


Goals of the PR Campaign

A) Cause the targeted audience to change its opinion and action based on the messages.

B) Provide credible counter message to the (wind) industry.

C) Disrupt industry message with countermeasures.

D) Cause subversion in message of industry so that it effectively becomes so bad no one wants to admit in public they are for it (much like wind has done to coal, by turning green to black and clean to dirty).

Ultimate Goal: Change policy direction based on the message. 


Some PR Tactics:

Most of this could be done by volunteers without having a formal
national organization.  Discuss how this would work and who would have
what responsibilities.

Consider joining forces w some already established organization where there is substantial commonality and commitment (e.g. ATI, Heartland, IER, CEI, Marshall, Brookings, Cato, Manhattan, AFP, FW, CFACT, ALEC, NA-PAW, etc.).

Provide training to local leaders regarding PR.

Provide local groups support materials, like PowerPoint templates to put on local education seminars, document templates for them to file with their state utility commission, etc.

Have a high-quality professional brochure available as a handout,
which summarizes the situation with wind energy (e.g. Rasmussen).

Encourage critical thinking from members and the public.

Develop a list of experts for testimony to government agencies, etc.

Identify key topics (e.g. health) and get volunteers to act as a clearing house for information and posting timely information for activists on a website.

Assign key people to be media interfaces (those who are knowledgeable can think on their feet, camera friendly, etc.)

Coordinate messages to address local, state and federal levels of
lawmakers.

Create some catch phrases of wind energy — e.g. puff power, breeze energy.

Setup a volunteer lobbying effort to reach key lawmakers. 

Identify and connect with like-minded groups such as tax, tea party, true environmentalists, business organizations, property rights advocates, etc.

 

2: NATIONAL ORGANIZATION PROPOSAL
Some Considerations Regarding a National Organization:

 [Note: This is optional. All of the above PR would be done as well, but having a funded national organization would allow for a more comprehensive PR effort.]

Decide on the purpose of a national organization, and how it would interface with local groups.  (E.g. local websites would primarily have info pertaining to the local issues. Education re wind energy would be handled nationally.)

Decide on the structure of a national organization, and where the funds would come from to support it.

Create a “think-tank” subgroup to produce and disseminate white paper reports and scientific quotes and papers that back-up the message. 

Timely gathering of information as it appears in media outlets on this subject.

Media Outreach & Response (communications) Committee will create and coordinate media contact campaigns. Use PR Newswire as the wind industry does currently.

Create advertising campaign for radio, TV, and alternative media. Coordinate with signage, tee-shirts, hats, bumper stickers etc.

Employ a well-known spokesman with star credibility. (Find one to volunteer?)

Develop corporate partnerships where the message goes onto bags, signs, tents and other outlets. Start a “get people talking” campaign. Use controversy to spark ideas.

Youth Outreach will create program for public school coordination as well as college coordination. This will include community activity and participation with sponsorships for science fairs, school activity etc. with preset parameters that cause students to steer away from wind because they discover it doesn’t meet the criteria we set up (poster contest, essays etc).

Setup a dummy business that will go into communities considering wind development, proposing to build 400 foot billboards.

Social Media Outreach director/create coordination for message on web and in Twitter-type outreach, YouTube, etc.

Create counter-intelligence branch (responsible for communicating current industry tactics and strategies as feedback to this organization)

A team investigates links to any organization supporting wind in order to expose that support.

Provide alternative solutions for public consumption as well as re-branding of the current wind industry?

Write expose book on the industry, showing government waste, harm to communities and other negative impacts on people and the environment.

Meme (self-replicating messages) Response Coordinator (This will help slow the meme effect of the industry, for instance when a company places a seal  showing wind power was used to produce the product, we automatically assign a tax wasting  symbol to the product and recommend a boycott on the website.  When a company uses wind power as marketing tool, or illustration such as a toy manufacturer showing turbines on the box, we automatically contact them to tell them we will list them on the web as actively participating in disinformation by favorably showing wind turbines).

Legal Department for contract review and guidance on communication efforts, and also taking developers (etc.) to court on various issues to cause media exposure. Maintain a comprehensive  collection of court cases on this subject. Also to provide legal voice for those who have none in this issue.  Develop legal strategies that can be copied in other areasTake zoning boards to court to rezone as industrial land to create chilling effect on signing contracts.  Also sue for property value loss to small land holders, and use all legal cases to create media poster child effect. Sue states regarding RPS. Sue state utility commissioners who don’t do their job. Etc.

Proposed Structure of a National Organization  

A paid, full time director will report to a board on which the director has a voting seat.  The director shall have one paid executive assistant.  The organization shall rely on a network of volunteer state committee chairpeople who are to coordinate efforts to disseminate the message in the state.  The chairperson shall make contacts and maintain them with various ad hoc groups throughout the state that would benefit from the coordinated message.

The director shall make use of information gathering technology to stay abreast of developments in the media and industry and then coordinate appropriate messages accordingly.   This technology shall include a subscription to Nexus.

The director shall also develop and maintain contacts and coordinate their actions in regards to the message.

The organization shall maintain 501c3 and PAC status and shall coordinate lobby efforts at the congressional and state levels.

The director will make use of scientific research which is designed to gauge the response to the message and allow for the adjustment of the message from time to time.  The same research is also to determine the weaknesses in opposition messages for the purpose of exploiting them to the end goal of the campaign.

National Organization: Details and Narrative. 

The purpose of a national organization would be to do a better, quicker job at constructively influencing national and state wind energy policies. A broader possible goal might be to constructively influence national and state energy and environmental policies.

The goal will be realized by coordination of a focused message along many channels and with multiple voices. The intent is to target three audiences with consistent messaging to create the change.  Public opinion must begin to change in what should appear as a “groundswell” among grass roots.   The message will be determined from a variety of analysis techniques including interviews with local groups and others who have an interest in spreading the message.  Those who hold opposing views must also be assessed.  The analysis will include scientific polls as well as focus groups to be used on a continuing basis from time to time to direct and focus the campaign on messages that are useful to the end goal.  As perceptions change over time, a barometer must be used to determine those changes and make dynamic adjustments in the  message and campaign.

The amount of time and energy the campaign will consume will necessarily require a minimum of two paid positions with consideration for the addition of other paid positions as the campaign grows and is able to garner more funding.  A director will be appointed by a board, on which the director shall make material contributions to the direction the board takes in its approach.   The director should have at least one administrative assistant paid to help with work loads.  The work load of the director will likely exceed 60 hours per week and more if travel is included.  A travel budget should also be planned to allow the director to meet with key persons in the various states where the campaign will become active.

The director position assumes that volunteers are ready and willing to begin serving in various committee positions as soon as possible.  The beginning committees can be constituted by a board vote and should include the following for immediate activation:

Media
Science
Regional State Coordinators
Networking
Political / Lobby
Group Policy.

The group policy committee will decide the key messages and focus and will use data from analysis and research to make its decisions.  The decisions from this committee will be used to guide the efforts of the organization in communicating with the prospective audiences.  This committee is responsible for analyzing and responding to the dynamics of the audiences over time, and is key to successfully implementing the strategy by identifying the correct arguments and tone for resonance among the audiences.

The media committee is responsible for implementing the message in a variety of media resources including traditional media, new media, social media and networking.  This committee will also be responsible for using analysis to determine the most appropriate packaging of the message for the various outlets.  It should consider what channels and voices to use in each instance.  This committee will have the responsibility of message integrity, that is, the continuity of message.  The committee will need resources for message positioning as well as utilizing free message placement techniques.

The science committee will be responsible for assembling a directorate of scientists with the proper credentials to be accepted by main stream media.  Those credentials are also important in making the scientific material harder to target and more difficult to tear down by the opposition.  This committee will coordinate with the directorate to develop a highly respectable collection of scientific white papers and reports that are consistent in their approach to supporting the messages chosen as most likely to succeed.  This committee will provide well respected scientists for media and political symposiums to be conducted to further establish the messages.  They will coordinate their efforts with other committees whose duties will include dissemination of the science.

The state and regional coordinators will be volunteers appointed to regional positions to remain in contact with the state leaders in their area.  They will ascertain the needs of the state and also local campaigns and be responsible for regularly reporting those needs to the organization so they can be addressed.  They will also be responsible for coordinating the flow of information in two directions between the organization and the state.  They should hold a monthly meeting where round -robin information sharing assures the flow of information up into the organization.  The coordinators will also individually be responsible for reaching out weekly to their state contacts to maintain a current picture of the situation on the ground, and should communicate any urgent state needs directly up to the director who should then coordinate the appropriate response.

The networking committee will be responsible for coordinating the response of networked groups with like-mind on our message. These will include the tea party, anti-tax leagues and utility rate groups as well as government watch-dog, anti-waste groups.  This committee will help spread our message to the network groups and then gather feed-back as to their interests and needs for further information from the organization.

Political and lobby committee is the coordinating arm for the message going to elected officials and contact with them in the capacity of lobby efforts.  This group ideally will be able to present a ground swell of public opinion in addition to facts that support the message.  The lobby efforts will include targeted opposition to current bills that continue the policy this organization opposes.   A coordination with the science committee is important to provide facts for lawmakers in a format they can understand easily.

Funding for a National Organization

The organization will need funding and a recommendation of $750,000 for seed and startup is probably a realistic number.  Printed materials, mailing, and the creation of a media packet, plus phone and computer links and information services.  Travel will be necessary as well.  The director should receive a salary of not less than $80,000 per year with an assistant receiving $35,000 per year.  The director should have experience in PR and media with the appropriate understanding of marketing techniques.  High level of creativity in developing media strategies, with emphasis on writing and communications.  This person must think outside the box and be willing to use the latest understanding of PR to counteract the opposing message and strategy across a broad range of audiences.

This is a recommendation to hire a professional fundraiser responsible for coordinating  donations to both the 501c3 and Pac.  The fundraising efforts should be separated from the duties of the director so as not to interfere with the day to day activities needed to keep the campaign moving forward.

  Example Scenario (for a National Organization)

In this example, the group policy committee has identified that a particular bill providing funding for the opposition has been advanced to committee for a hearing.  Policy committee has asked for a coordinated effort to stop the progress of the funding measure.

First, the lobby committee uses their contacts to begin a campaign from the inside against the bill with phone calls and private meetings.  They meet with several staffers who suggest that the bill is being supported because it has been moved as green legislation and several committee members are afraid to oppose it on that basis.  The lobby committee reports this to media and science for further action.

The media committee decides to use a full page advertisement in the Washington Post as a method of communicating the ‘not so green truth’ to congress, and at the same time coordinates a special interview and story from a scientific point of view that illustrates the dirty side of the industry.  At this same time, the science committee holds a press conference to announce that the industry is using dishonesty and “greenwashing” as a cover for what amounts to corporate welfare.  

The message is also repeated in Wash Times, WSJ, Fox and other sources.

State regional coordinators are tapped at this time to provide a letter writing campaign from the grass roots asking the key legislators to back away from the funding measure.  This campaign is also echoed in various directorate groups coordinated from the organization including tea party, anti-tax leagues, etc.

The coordinated effort stretches across multi-channels and multi-voices, and appears to come from as many as a dozen separate sources, but the message is the same and stays on point.  The created barrage of voices provides enough cover that the elected officials have a way to vote no because they can clearly see they have support for our position.

CONCLUSION

A more consistent professional PR campaign is an absolute imperative. With well over a hundred US local groups fighting the same issue, it is clearly advisable that these people be on the same page. What sense does it make for each of these groups to be reinventing the wheel, and duplicating efforts?

There are several options as to how this can be implemented, ranging from the informal to the very structured.

The low cost alternative is to continue to rely on volunteers, and not to have a national organization. That can work, to a degree, but there still is a critical need for the numerous local groups across the country to work more closely together. Exactly how that can be best done is what needs to be resolved.

The more high-end approach would insure the widest distribution of the best message — but will require considerable time effort and funding. A national organization can not be accomplished without full-time people working to coordinate local efforts. Are we prepared to commit to that option at this point?  

Establishing a national organization (if that is the chosen route) should be viewed as a long term project.  A three year plan should be developed that can offer some time table for expected results. Due to the size of this undertaking, this plan should include a roll-out period where a test of the organization can be made in a single state or region of states first, before going to a national format.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This article was published by The Guardian, and can be found at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/interactive/2012/may/09/wind-power-memo
the guardian

Snyder Puts the Smack-Down on Michigan Lawmakers

In a rare show of political spine, Governor Snyder admonished lawmakers to pull their collective heads out of their asses (my words — he was much more statesman like), and stop wasting time on gun laws, particularly those that won’t stand-up to a constitutional challenge.

Catering to a fringe demographic, conservative legislators are putting the constitution to a good old-fashioned witch drowning — trial by ordeal — with Senate Bill 63.  A proposed law that would exempt weapons manufactured in Michigan from federal gun regulations, and which lawmakers readily admit is unconstitutional. The “logic” behind the potential law goes likes this:

Lawmakers love their constitution so much (particularly the second amendment), that they are willing to violate it to protect it — a legislative honor killing meant to preserve the virtue of our foundational document.

Snyder’s warning to lawmakers is likely intended to give them a political “out” with the NRA. A lawmaker need only introduce or vote More →

NRA and ALEC – Behind The Castle Doctrine, Together

We’ll just let the picture tell the story of how Florida’s Stand Your Ground law became ALEC’s Castle Doctrine Law.  A version of one or the other law is in force in , which is the law of the land in 46 states *  Here from August 12, 2005…

NRA Presents ALEC Model Legislation in Grapevine, TX* ref:  http://cga.ct.gov/2012/rpt/2012-R-0172.htm

 

ALEC Executive Director Caught LYING about NRA

WELL – ALEC is doing what they do best again – LYING

An editorial by Executive Director Ron Scheberle included the following misleading statements (my emphasis):

“I wish that our critics would conduct themselves similarly. Instead, liberal activist groups like Color of Change have used this tragedy to falsely accuse ALEC of collaborating with the National Rifle Association on model legislation. The truth is that ALEC has no affiliation with the NRA, which is not a member of ALEC.

“ALEC is a partnership between state legislators, members of the nonprofit and private sectors, and the general public that works to support the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise, limited government and federalism at the state level. ALEC does not have any model legislation involving the NRA.”

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. More →

Public Schools and Guns

I am a public school teacher.  The irony of teachers being the heroes this week after standing between students and a gun – is not lost on me.  

After being villainized for the last few years, I guess my main surprise is that someone else noticed that teachers are heroes.  It seems apparent to me . . .  teachers are heroes.  I work with dozens of heroes every workday.  I know many people who give everything they have – to teach students.  I’m not surprised by the events in Connecticut.  My only surprise is that the general public seemed to finally notice teachers again and find something to value about us.

I don’t expect this admiration to last long because Americans have to get back to the bottom line soon.  Someone in a corporation needs to make money.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/24/teachers-heroic-actions-i_n_2360571.html

I am a public school teacher.  The response of gun lovers this week has been – disgusting. More →