PepsiCo

INSOURCING Analysis – Prison Labor Competing For Your Job

In December 2010 I wrote the following article on prison labor and those involved in removing jobs from the private/public sectors and putting them in the hands of inmates.  Now that I look back even I am sitting here shaking my head at the names, companies, legislators and laws involved in this huge profitable enterprise.  I take little satisfaction in saying I tried to bring this subject to the attention of America’s workers, unions and lawmakers years before the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and their activities regarding American workers and exploiting taxpayers were exposed in 2012.  However, when you read this keep in mind the corporations and individuals who have by now become infamous for their membership in – or support for ALEC – and compare that list to what I provided in this Daily Kos post on December 6, 2010…and since then I discovered how the Dept. of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Assistance have teamed up to help transition our jobs from neighborhoods to prisons.

INSOURCING – Faith Based Prison proposal and links to Tea Party – Follow-up More →

Sanofi Dumps ALEC, Making 41 Corporations Out

From PRWatch by Rebekah Wilce

The French pharmaceutical manufacturer, Sanofi (formerly Sanofi-Aventis) announced they have cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

“Sanofi has been a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force. The task force has adopted “model” legislation opposing health insurance reforms and making it harder for those injured by pharmaceuticals, as well as for the family members of those killed, to hold pharmaceutical companies liable. Sanofi was also a “Vice Chairman” level sponsor of the 2011 ALEC Annual Conference (this level of sponsorship cost $25,000 in 2010) and funded ALEC’s Arizona “Scholarship Fund” to the tune of $3,000 in 2010, in addition to funding other state ALEC scholarships and previously co-chairing a state for ALEC. ALEC “scholarship funds” provide a vehicle for ALEC’s corporate members to buy influence with legislators through gifts of flights, hotel rooms, and other perks denominated as “ALEC scholarships,” as CMD has reported.”

To read the full announcement from PRWatch click here….

Merck Pharmaceutical and Wells Fargo Dump ALEC, While Duke Energy Holds Out

From PRWatch by Rebekah Wilce

Merck, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, and Wells Fargo, one of the largest banks in the United States, have joined 38 other major firms and cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is a controversial “bill mill” that brings together right-wing legislators and corporations to draft controversial model bills behind closed doors. The exit of the two firms brings the total to 40 major American firms that have departed ALEC in recent months. Meanwhile, Duke Energy, the largest regulated utility company in the United States, has not responded to recent intensified consumer pressure to dump ALEC. Beyond their membership in ALEC, all three firms have been criticized for dodging taxes from 2008-2010.”

Read the full article at PRWatch here

Center for Media and Democracy Comes Under Attack For Reporting on ALEC

A VLTP OP-ED in response to an article from PRWatch today  by Lisa Graves — August 29, 2012

“The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) sent a message to hundreds of legislators across the country attacking the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), the creator of ALECexposed.org. Among other things ALEC claimed, “CMD is an attack-dog, not a watch-dog.”

The error-filled missive, which was intended to buck up the ALEC faithful as more and more corporations flee the organization, has us here at CMD pondering the old adage, “First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they want to attack you and then you win…”

You should read this important article by Lisa Graves here

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It appears the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is tiring of losing legislative and corporate members and support due to exposure of their ultra-conservative activities.

For years bloggers, citizen journalists at Daily Kos, PFAW, Think Progress and even foreign news services have reported on various activities and actions of ALEC.  Until 2011 those reports and mentions of ALEC were rare, sporadic and lacked any real depth about the organization.  This was because while many were concerned about the activities of this registered U.S. charity’s involvement in crafting and supporting partisan legislation, they had few facts and little documentation to work with.

Concerned citizen journalists at Daily Kos worked for a couple of years developing facts and documenting activities of ALEC.  In April of last year students activists from Cincinnati and many of the DK writers worked to plan and implement a protest and rally at ALEC’s Spring Summit held in that city. By anyone’s measurement the event held on April 29th could best be described as a “small but enthusiastic” event with Teach-Ins to educate Ohioans about ALEC and report on their activities.  There were speakers, a rally at Fountain Square and a couple of hundred of us marched around the hotel where ALEC’s corporate and legislative members were meeting to determine new laws they wanted imposed upon Americans.

ALEC members strolled through the rally, laughing and shaking their heads at such foolishness aimed at them.  Many smirked, asking; “ALEC? Alec who…Baldwin?”  Legislative members came out of the hotel during the march, attempting to speak with marchers and inform that “they” were not the ones supporting SB 1070 style legislation, or in favor of attacking collective bargaining…while around the corner at another entrance to the Hilton Netherland Plaza hotel corporate members laughed and pointed at marchers passing by, shaking their heads at the futile protest while they smoked their cigarettes and cigars, holding drinks in their hands.

Though all of this took place in view of the Cincinnati Enquirer’s windows, not one word about the protest march was reported in the Gannett owned paper. To the ALEC contingent and their supporters, the rally, march and teach-ins were nothing more than a minor inconvenience and served to fill them with a sense of pride that their power and influence were so vast – and opposition to both so small.

That all changed after the CMD and Nation Magazine went public with documents and materials turned over to a protest organizer in Cincinnati by a whistleblower associated with ALEC.  As the site “ALEC Exposed” went up in July 2011 with public access to all of the “model bills” in ALEC’s arsenal, the Nation and CMD published several articles detailing the model legislation disseminated by ALEC to every state and chronicled the impact that legislation had upon various segments of our society.

Third IRS Whistleblower Complaint Brought Against American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

BREAKING NEWS FROM VLTP –

Earlier this year two complaints were filed against the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) by Common Cause and Clergy Voice, alleging major violations of IRS Code lobbying prohibitions committed by ALEC, a “charity” which enjoys a 501(c)(3) tax exempt status with the IRS.

ALEC claims their activities are all related to educating lawmakers and that none are related to lobbying for or against legislation or a particular candidate.  Nearly all of their activities, however, appear to be directly related to creating thousands of pieces of model legislation and lobbying for passage of each one in most U.S. states.  ALEC openly boasts a success rate of 17% of “their” model legislation becoming law.

The first two complaints address issues of lobbying and soliciting contributions from corporations, businesses and other organizations.  The contributions are then used to reimburse ALEC state legislative members for their travel, lodging and incidental expenses related to attending any of ALEC’s three annual events (Summits or Meetings).  The money is requested by ALEC’s state chairmen and when received they forward the funds to ALEC to “hold” until an event is concluded.  Then state legislators submit requests for reimbursement for the costs of their attending, and ALEC disburses the held funds.

A third issue involves state lawmakers strategizing with corporate lobbyists or representatives at these annual meetings to develop proposed legislation in one or more of nine (9) ALEC task forces.  Once adopted by ALEC these model bills are sent back to states with ALEC members who are required by ALEC’s by-laws to ensure introduction of any legislation adopted by ALEC.

The Voters Legislative Transparency Project (VLTP), Inc. filed a third complaint and in it reports that it concurs with and supports the allegations put forth in both of the now pending complaints.

Amgen Drops ALEC – Pfizer Leaves ALEC Board & Dreyfus Not Funding ALEC in 2012

From an article published at PRWatch by Rebekah Wilce

Continuing and unrelenting pursuit of ALEC and their corporate members by activist and labor groups, having huge impact upon the ultra right organization.  Thirty plus companies, four foundations and more than 50 legislators have already left ALEC – an organization operating under the banner of being a “Charity”, much like their former UK partner, Atlantic Bridge. The AB charity was disbanded by the UK government earlier this year when it was discovered their agenda was solely conservative and that it performed no real charitable operations – again much like ALEC.

Common Cause and Clergy Voice have already challenged ALEC’s charitable and IRS exemption status through whistleblower claims to the IRS filed earlier in 2012.  As the controversy continues to make headlines, more and more companies are finding it more prudent to separate themselves and their “brands” from ALEC and their numerous legislative pursuits that includes the disenfranchisement of voters and privatizing state education systems.

Amgen, a $15.3 billion pharmaceutical company based in California, announced its determination not to renew its membership on August 3 in response to a letter from a group of concerned shareholders and advocates led by Walden Asset Management and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Pfizer, the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, has dropped its seat on ALEC’s corporate board, according to the agenda from ALEC’s 2012 annual meeting. Even commodities and energy trading corporation Louis Dreyfus confirmed to CMD that it had decided not to fund ALEC this year.”

ALEC Exposed lists the following companies and foundations that have now dumped ALEC:

Companies:

Foundations:

Read the full CMD article here

Sierra Club Releases “Clean Energy Under Siege” Report – ALEC Responds

VLTP Special Report By Bob Sloan

Last Friday, the Sierra Club released a report on clean energy that was critical of the efforts of what has become known as the ALEC Koch led “Cabal.”  One article on this provided a rundown of key points released in the report.  These include:

  • Growth in clean energy in has made it a threat, and therefore a target from “oil, coal, and gas interests.”
  • Those interests have launched a coordinated and well-funded, multi-pronged assault at the federal level (e.g., Congressional attacks on the Production Tax Credits, harping on theSolyndra non-“scandal”), as well as in the states, by groups like the dirty-energy-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which “provide[s] state lawmakers with ‘model legislation’ that will carry out the goals of its corporate members.”
  • Many of the self-appointed “experts” and anti-clean-energy groups “masquerade as think tanks,” (Heartland, Heritage, Mackinac and Manhattan Institute) maintaining a veneer of impartiality while being funded by oil and gas interests – people like the Koch brothers (ALEC member), etc.
  • The oil and gas message is now focused on touting the benefits of fossil fuels – including a veritable fountain of cheap natural gas from hydrofracking – while constantly pushing out tired and inaccurate lines about clean energy being too expensive, unworkable because of intermittency, and the like.”

The report cites Exxon as contributing heavily to “think tanks” pumping out false science claims about renewable energy and our environment:

“Exxon (an ALEC member) has contributed more than $600,000 since 1998 to the Manhattan Institute, and approximately $676,500 since 1998 to the Heartland Institute…”

It also provides a primary reason why such contributions are helping oil and gas companies prevent clean energy efforts from taking hold – and just why our Congress seems so ineffective in legislating anything involving gas, oil and renewable energies:

“The oil and gas industries contributed to 387 — or 88 percent — of all members of the House of Representatives in the 2010 election cycle. The industry also contributed to 89 out of 100 senators. In both chambers of Congress combined, Republicans received 86 percent of all oil and gas donations.”

Seeing their name mentioned in this report on Friday, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) immediately released a response to the Sierra Club’s findings on Saturday.  In their response, ALEC began by saying they support renewable energy as does many of their members…

“ALEC has state legislative members that are very supportive of the renewable energy industry.  In addition, ALEC has private sector members that represent renewable energy technologies and even more private sector members that work with and supply products and services to the renewable industry as whole.”

However the next paragraph “explains” ALEC’s position on renewable energy…

“ALEC’s stance on renewable energy has been very clear. ALEC believes that free markets in energy produce more options, more energy, lower prices and less economic disruptions. Also, ALEC believes that mandates to transform the energy sector and use renewable energy sources place the government in the unfair position of choosing winners and losers, keeping alive industries that are dependent on special interest lobbying. ALEC opposes mandates and therefore opposes infighting among fuel sources. ALEC also believes that government programs designed to encourage and advance energy technologies should not reduce energy choices or supply. They should not limit the production of electricity, for example, to only politically preferable technologies.”

No denial of the involvement of the Koch brothers, or campaign contributions by them and ExxonMobil.  No denial of their influences in our Congress or upon members of either house as Sierra claimed.  Research over the past few years has shown that when it comes to “special interest lobbying” ALEC itself is the leader in that category.

Further down, ALEC went on to claim:

“Sloppy research, half-truths and fabrications are found throughout the Sierra Club report. The report shows the very partisan approach and, unfortunately careless, nature behind the Sierra Club’s publications. It is important to point out some the glaring errors regarding the references to ALEC and the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force within ALEC.”

These are similar claims ALEC has made regarding the very public exposure they have been receiving due to extensive research and fact checked disclosures that have been in the news over the past 18 months.  In dozens of articles published by ALEC and think tanks mentioned in the Sierra Club report (and others) they have accused “leftists, Liberals and Progressives” of leading an uncalled for attack upon ALEC and the cabal.  However, in each case the documentation, model bills, reports and articles published about them have been found to be accurate and well supported, resulting in 40 corporations, private foundations and more than 50 legislators to resign from ALEC.  Led by the Center for Media and Democracy’s “ALEC Exposed” and the efforts of other national and  activist organizations – including Occupy groups – researchers have published hundreds of informative and factual articles and reports to the public.  In April of last year more than 800 pieces of until then hidden ALEC model “bills” were turned over by a whistleblower and publicized by CMD and the Nation Magazine.

“Sloppy research, half-truths and fabrications” are what ALEC and the Koch-led cabal operate upon, not the Sierra Club, SourceWatch, CMD, Occupy or other organizations making the actions and activities of ALEC public.  Examples of this are seen in the Sierra report:

“In May, ALEC invited a Who’s Who of anti-clean energy advocates to a meeting in Charlotte to plot strategy. The Heartland Institute was there, even after its internal documents had been exposed and the damage of its self-inflicted wound with the Unabomber billboard had been done. The field general for the Koch brothers, Americans for Prosperity, was there. The first-string squad for the anti-clean energy team was suited up and on the field….

In response to this claim, ALEC did not bother to deny it – just “falsely” claiming it was false – then saying:

Fact Check: This is demonstrably false.  The American Legislative Exchange Council has three conferences a year for its members to discuss pressing public policy issues affecting the states. One of these three conferences is our Spring Task Force Summit which was held in Charlotte, NC on May 11-12.  Our private sector members who attended this conference consist of a wide variety of industries including renewable energy companies. Our agenda for the meeting covered many topics that are of interest to our state legislators from agriculture policy, smart grid deployment and what causes gas prices to streamlining permits for solar installations.”

Did they deny the Heartland Institute was there?  That Americans For Prosperity was there?  That the agenda did not include anti-clean energy advocates?  No, they just attempted to water it down by claiming they discussed many topics of interest to their legislative and private sector members.

The report identified Todd Wynn as ALEC’s staffer (actual title is Director) of their Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force  and gave a history of Wynn’s past affiliations:

“…The staffer behind ALEC’s energy task force is Todd Wynn. Wynn’s resume is a journeyman’s travelogue through the world of ultra-conservative advocacy. Wynn’s opposition to wind energy is well documented from his time with the Cascade Policy Institute….While with Cascade, Wynn wrote reports with titles like, “The Dirty Secret Behind Clean Jobs” and “Renewable Energy Failure: Why Government Mandates Don’t Work and What They Will Do to Our Economy.” Before that, he worked for another “free market think tank,” the American Tradition Institute (ATI).”

ALEC’s response?

“Fact Check: Mr. Wynn has never been on the staff at the American Tradition Institute. He like many of the other fellows of ATI serves in an unpaid advisory capacity to the ATI staff”

No denial about;  Wynn’s control of the ALEC Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force, didn’t deny his previous position with Cascade Policy Institute, the reports written by Wynn or his previous affiliation with the ATI.  No, their response was limited to “…Wynn has never been on the staff” of ATI, instead he’s just an “unpaid fellow” that served in the capacity of advisor to ATI staff.  Possibly Wynn was then “underpaid” for his valuable anti-renewable energy work while at ATI.

As with nearly every press release, claim, false denial or other response to the articles and reports critical of ALEC, the organization once again responded with several paragraphs of double talk and unsupported denials.  Whereas the Sierra Club report is well documented with 94 end notes supporting their claims.  ALEC’s response had…0 facts, no foot or end notes or links to where a reader could find where their claims or denials were substantiated.

Conclusion:  the Sierra Club has accurately identified the problem, the players involved with ALEC, the agenda of this cabal and how many of our Congressional officials are helping them to enrich the oil and gas companies and maintain their stranglehold on consumers’s dollars at the pump and our tax dollars paid out in needless and expensive government subsidies.

The foregoing helps us understand why it has been so difficult to separate the oil and gas companies from ALEC.  They cherish the power and influence they are able to wield upon state and federal lawmakers through their membership in ALEC.  They aren’t as worried about their “brand” as Kraft, Coke and Pepsi were when they quit ALEC.  When it comes to the oil companies, we are so dependent upon them for our fuel needs, they believe we’ll buy it because we have no other choice.  That is why it is so important to push for renewable energy and break the stranglehold upon us that ALEC has given them…and above all, understand that any press release, statements or claims coming from ALEC and their sycophantic cabal members are well thought out and designed to misinform and help them succeed in their conservative agenda.

The fact that global warming is real and oil companies and manufacturers are helping to further increase pollution, bringing us to the point of no-return – where the harm done becomes irreversible – has become undeniable.  This summer’s national drought has demonstrated this better than any report could ever do, with Americans from coast to coast experiencing the very real effects of climate change first hand and personally.  It’s time all of us begin to understand that the arguments put forth by the Koch/ALEC Cabal are nothing more than hollow words meant to distract us from realizing they will sacrifice us all – and the very planet – in pursuit of continued enrichment.  They simply must be stopped!

Compiled Thursday Coverage of the ALEC Annual Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah…

Click on the article titles below for links to the articles or videos:
 “I know you’re being attacked by a lot of these leftist groups in your states. I know you are,” Ron Scheberle, ALEC’s executive director told lawmakers during lunch Wednesday before turning to the group’s corporate sponsors. “Thank you. Thank you for standing with us. I know you’ve been attacked a lot — extortion threats and letters. But those who are here today are standing strong.”

“Alec is a conglomeration of the world’s richest multinational corporations,” Jesse Fruhwirth said. “They’re a lobbying organization that relies on a pay to play, where if you have hundreds of thousands of dollars, you can buy legislation.”

 “This corporate?funded 501(c)(3) organization…has unprecedented access to lawmakers and to the composition of the bills they pass into law. Out of Florida’s 160 state legislators, 60 have had ties with ALEC since 2010 through dues records or records of its task forces where corporate lobbyists vote as equals with legislators on “model” bills behind closed doors.”

Anti-ALEC Protest And Rally For Public Education Thursday

“The American Legislative Exchange Council has descended upon Salt Lake City for its annual meeting, and the nonprofit that secretly feeds lawmakers biz-friendly bills is being harried by local activists at every stop. Thursday activists are picketing ALEC for efforts to dismantle public education.”

Color Of Change Applauds Walgreens’ and General Motors’ Decisions to End their Membership in ALEC

“30 Companies Have Left the American Legislative Exchange Council, Announcement Comes During Group’s Annual Meeting in Utah; Civil Rights Organization Now Calls on Online Retailer eBay to Drop ALEC.”

Report claims Florida lawmakers do bidding of corporate-funded ALEC

“Some of the most controversial bills introduced recently in the Florida Legislature were thought up by out-of-state corporate interests with financial motives, according to a report released Thursday by a two national watchdog groups and Progress Florida. The report says the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, is a shadowy force exerting an uncanny amount of power over Florida’s lawmaking process.”

Pre-fab bills

 “Paying membership dues (often out of campaign contributions) in order to access “model” legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council is the legislative equivalent of purchasing term papers online (“ALEC bringing its clout, agenda and convention to Utah,” Tribune, July 15).”Any lawmaker who cannot draft his or her own legislation based on the needs of constituents has no business serving in the Utah Legislature.

“I elect local people to serve in our Legislature, and I expect them to focus on listening to Utah citizens to creatively solve local issues.

“Certainly, this is harder than simply downloading “model” legislation, but if you aren’t willing to do the work, don’t run for office.

“Buying pre-fab legislation from a secretive organization two time zones away is beneath the dignity of the office of an elected representative. This remains true, whether the organization is conservative or liberal.

Ingrid Griffee – Salt Lake City

“ALEC represents a pay-to-play system at its worst, a system where the most powerful corporations buy their way in,” Common Cause President and CEO Bob Edgar, a former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania, said.

ALEC under fire (Video)

“(Lisa) Graves points to the organization’s by-laws, made public through the IRS that say state chairmen “shallpropose model legislation in their states. State chairmen are sitting lawmakers, including Utah State Senators Curt Bramble and Wayne Neiderhauser and state representative Chris Herrod.”

Walgreens’ and General Motors Become 29th and 30th Corp. to Drop Membership in ALEC

From Color of Change –

“General Motors Company, the world’s largest automaker, has ended its relationship with the American Legislative Council (ALEC). Walgreens, the country’s largest drug retailing chain, has also parted ways with the right-wing policy group….

Walgreens Logo

“Walgreens will not be renewing its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (“ALEC”) where we have participated on ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force. Walgreens will continue to be an active presence on critical health care and pharmacy issues facing the country and looks forward to continuing to work across the political spectrum in the public policy arena.

“On Monday, Bryan Roosa, General Motors’ regional director of state government relations, told a ColorOfChange staffer via email that, “GM has communicated to ALEC that we will no longer fund nor participate going forward.”

Read the entire article here

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