PRWatch

Koch Bros Retainer to PRWatch: “Bring It!”

Koch Bros Retainer to PRWatch: “Bring It!”

mary bottariby Mary Bottari at PRWatch

“Some interesting emails were released as part of theMilwaukee Journal Sentinel’s ongoing investigation of a $500,000 taxpayer grant awarded to the Koch-tied United Sportsmen’s group. The grant was tailor-made for United Sportsmen and slipped into the budget by State Representative Scott Suder as one of his last acts as a state legislator. (Suder, who also served as ALEC’s Wisconsin State Chair, was given a new job at the Public Utilities Commission and a $45,000 pay raise by Governor Scott Walker.)

“United Sportsmen of Wisconsin (USW) is a relatively new group that spent more money defending Scott Walker in the recall election than on deer licenses, and more money lobbying for a four mile, open-pit iron ore mine that threatens to shut down a large swath of state forest, than educating people about hunting.

“After the Journal Sentinel reported on the sweetheart deal for this little-known group, CMD/PRwatch uncovered the organization’s deep ties to David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity and the Tea Party. United Sportsmen’s website was registered by an AFP staffer, the group coordinated with AFP to send misleading mailers in advance of the 2011 recall elections, and AFP and United Sportsmen co-sponsored a “Freedom Fest” party in advance of the 2012 elections featuring Republican politicians and right-wing personalities. Luke Hilgemann, Suder’s former Chief of Staff, until recently headed the Wisconsin chapter of AFP and now is #2 at the national organization. CMD also uncovered how the United Sportsmen Board was populated by right-wing apparatchicks, including John Keegan, head of the Sauk County Tea Party, and Annette Olson, the Americans for Prosperity “Activist of the Year” for 2012 and leader of the Tea Party groups Women United for Liberty and Uninfringed Liberty.

“The Journal Sentinel also reported that the group “misled” law makers about its non-profit charitable status. The ensuing outrage over the blatant cronyism prompted Walker to rescind the grant September 5th, but Suder still has his plum job…”

Read the full PRWatch article -> HERE <-

5/20 ALEC/Koch News – Weekly Recap…

5/20 ALEC/Koch News – Weekly Recap…

By Bob Sloan

This has been a busy week for us here at VLTP.  To catch our readership and visitors up with news involving ALEC and their cabal, we’re publishing a larger segment today.

Click on the headline link(s) to read the full article or document from the original source.

First a development involving the Occupy Movement and how government resources have been used to suppress the Occupy Wall Street and other Occupy groups.

Obama Admin. Approves ALEC Model Bill for Fracking Chemical Fluid Disclosure on Public Lands

“On May 16, the Obama Interior Department announced its long-awaited rules governing hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) on federal lands.

“As part of its 171-page document of rules, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), part of the U.S. Dept. of Interior (DOI), revealed it will adopt theAmerican Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model bill written by ExxonMobil for fracking chemical fluid disclosure on U.S. public lands.

“ALEC is a 98-percent corporate-funded bill mill and “dating service” that brings predominantly Republican state legislators and corporate lobbyists together at meetings to craft and vote on “model bills” behind closed doors. Many of these bills end up snaking their way into statehouses and become law in what Bill Moyers referred to as “The United States of ALEC.”

Government Surveillance of Occupy Movement

– by Beau Hodai, CMD/DBA

“On May 20, 2013, DBA Press and the Center for Media and Democracy ?released the results of a year-long investigation: “Dissent or Terror:? How the Nation’s Counter Terrorism Apparatus, In Partnership With ?Corporate America, Turned on Occupy Wall Street.”?? The report, a distillation of thousands of pages of records obtained? from counter terrorism/law enforcement agencies, details how? state/regional “fusion center” personnel monitored the Occupy Wall? Street movement over the course of 2011 and 2012.

“The report also examines how fusion centers and other counter terrorism entities that ?have emerged since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 have? worked to benefit numerous corporations engaged in public-private? intelligence sharing partnerships. ??While the report examines many instances of fusion center monitoring? of Occupy activists nationwide, the bulk of the report ?details how counter terrorism personnel engaged in the Arizona Counter? Terrorism Information Center (ACTIC, commonly known as the “Arizona fusion center”) monitored and otherwise surveilled citizens active in? Occupy Phoenix, and how this surveillance benefited a number of ?corporations and banks that were subjects of Occupy Phoenix protest ?activity.

“?While small glimpses into the governmental monitoring of the Occupy Wall Street movement have emerged in the past, there has not been any reporting — until now — that details the breadth and depth with which the nation’s post-September 11, 2001 counter terrorism apparatus has been applied to politically engaged citizens exercising their Constitutionally-protected First Amendment rights.”

ALEC & Your Communications: Part 1: How AT&T, ALEC and the Other Communications Companies Created Model State Legislation to Harm You

“Let’s connect the dots.

“Starting in 2007, AT&T, Verizon, Centurylink and the cable companies, working with a group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), created state-based model legislation and principles designed by the companies to accomplish one thing — the removal of all regulations, obligations and oversight on the companies’ businesses. As the NRRI report outlines, 25 states have removed some, if not all regulations and oversight, and there are more to come in 2013…”

BOYCOTT KOCH BROTHERS, MONSANTO AND OTHER INDUSTRIES’ PRODUCTS LINING SUPERMARKET SHELVES

“The guessing game is over. No longer will consumers wonder what companies are behind the millions of products that fill supermarket shelves because there’s an app for that.

Buycott, now available on Apple and Android platforms, is a tool that allows consumers to organize their spending depending on personal values.

“The app helps consumers determine whether their spending is funding causes or campaigns that they either support or oppose. Buycott offers consumers the opportunity to align their principals and spending by avoiding products made by controversial big businesses such as Koch Industries, Monsanto and George Soros and, instead, buying products to help support the companies behind initiatives like local and sustainable food.” 

The States That Use the Most Green Energy

“California and Texas might be leading the nation’s rollout of solar and wind power, respectively, but Washington, where hydroelectric dams provide over 60 percent of the state’s energy, was the country’s biggest user of renewable power in 2011, according to new statistics released last week by the federal Energy Information Administration.

More than half of the 29 states that require utilities to purchase renewable power are currently considering legislation to pare back those mandates, in many cases pushed by (surprise, suprise) the American Legislative Exchange Council. “We’re opposed to these mandates, and 2013 will be the most active year ever in terms of efforts to repeal them,” ALEC energy task force director Todd Wynn recently told Bloomberg.”

On Paid Sick Days, Will Gov. Rick Scott Side with Moms or Mickey Mouse?

“Florida Governor Rick Scott is under pressure from Florida moms to veto a bill that would deliver a “kill-shot” to local efforts to guarantee paid sick days for workers. The legislation, which can be traced back the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is backed by major corporate players with questionable labor records, including Disney.

“In April, the Florida legislature passed a corporate-backed bill to preempt local paid sick day laws, largely in response to a small-d democratic effort in Orange County to have residents vote on the issue. More than 50,000 Orange County voters signed petitions to place a paid sick day measure on the ballot, which would be effectively blocked if Governor Scott signs the law.

“As the Center for Media and Democracy has reported, paid sick day preemption bills have spread across the country after legislation that passed in Wisconsin was shared at an August 2011 ALEC meeting. The legislation in Florida was sponsored in the House and Senate by two ALEC members, House Majority Leader Steve Precourt and Sen. David Simmons.” 

Turning people who report corporate crime into criminals

by Jim Hightower

“In most state legislatures today, bizarre is not unusual, and off-the-wall has become the political center.

“Still, it seems strange that legislators in so many states — from California to Vermont — have simultaneously been pushing “ag-gag” bills that are not merely outrageous, but downright un- American. Each is intended to prevent journalists, whistleblowers, workers and other citizens from exposing illegal, abusive or unethical corporate treatment of animals confined in factoryfeeding operations.

“Oddly, each of these state proposals is practically identical, even including much of the same wording. That’s because, unbeknownst to the public and other legislators, the bills don’t originate from the state lawmakers who introduce them, instead coming from a corporate front group named ALEC — the American Legislative Exchange Council. Lobbyists for corporate funders of ALEC convene periodically to write model bills that serve their corporations’ special interests, then the bills are farmed out to the group’s trusted lawmakers across the country. The secretive ALEC network produced the ag-gag model in 2002, titling it the “Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act. 

The terrible price of ag-gag laws

Rather than shutting observers out of slaughterhouses, we should open the doors even wider

“When the “pink slime” scandal exploded online last March, Iowa Gov. Terry Brandstad called a press conference. But Brandstad and beef industry leaders weren’t there to apologize for processing scraps through centrifuges, then spraying American meat with ammonia gas. The event featured officials showing off t-shirts with the slogan “Dude, it’s beef!”

“After dismissing the public’s concerns about “pink slime,” agribusiness is now trying to stop the public from learning about practices like this in the first place.

“These laws are modeled on an “Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act” produced by the American Legislative Exchange Council, the group behind voter ID laws and “stand your ground” gun laws.”

Open the Slaughterhouse Doors: It’s Time to See How the Sausage Gets Made

“In February in Salt Lake City, Amy Meyer stood on the street and used her cell phone to record what was happening outside a slaughterhouse. She then became the first person charged under one of the new so-called “ag-gag” laws.

“Six states currently have such “farm protection laws,” deliberately designed to stop video recording at slaughterhouses. The bills are largely industry-funded and based on a template drawn up by the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council. Another eight states have similar legislation in the works. Although the effort to clamp down on slaughterhouse recording has never been more organized, two such bills, in Indiana and here in California, recently failed, and the historic prosecution of Meyer also failed when her case was dropped last month.

 

MP on Google tax avoidance scheme: ‘I think that you do evil’

Google and Amazon face fresh attack over claims that their multibillion-pound UK-facing businesses should not be taxed

“Google and Amazon came under fierce attack from MPs and tax campaigners after fresh whistleblower allegations put further strain on claims by the internet giants that their multibillion-pound UK-facing businesses should not be taxed by Revenue & Customs.

“Margaret Hodge, chair of the public accounts committee, told Google’s northern Europe boss, Matt Brittin, that his company’s behaviour on tax was “devious, calculated and, in my view, unethical”.

“He had been recalled by MPs after being accused of misleading parliament over the firm’s tax affairs six months ago. Hodge said: “You are a company that says you ‘do no evil’. And I think that you do do evil.” Hodge was referring to Google’s long-standing corporate motto, “Don’t be evil,” which appeared in its $23bn US stock market flotation prospectus in 2004.”

This news about Google and Amazon follows the discovery that Starbucks has also been avoiding paying their full tax in the UK.  (Starbucks, Google and Amazon are all affiliated with ALEC or are/have been corporate members).

The shadowy conservative group ALEC has members in Nevada’s Legislature

“For years, liberal interest groups have slagged the American Legislative Exchange Council as a front for right-wing legislators and their supporters among the corporate elite. And with good reason. Corporations and corporate and industrial trade groups formed ALEC and still appear to control the group’s policy-making, legislation-writing apparatus.

“ALEC’s other side is its legislative membership. The group proudly proclaims on its website that it has 2,000 state-level legislators as members, presumably ready to advance its right-leaning agenda. And advance that agenda they do.

“Privatizing education, ditching workers safety and environmental protections, thwarting efforts to develop alternative energy, blocking gun control — the history of ALEC is a history of the modern right and its successes and failures.

‘Big Gulp’ bill passes House

“RALEIGH, N.C. — Cities would not be allowed to ban large servings of sugary drinks under a bill that passed the state House Wednesday night.

“House Bill 683, the “Commonsense Consumption” bill, would also prohibit people from filing “frivolous lawsuits” against food manufacturers or packagers for obesity, weight gain or health issues related to consumption of their products.

“The bill is model legislation promoted by pro-business advocacy group American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.

“Sponsor Rep. Brian Brown, R-Pitt, said the measure “requests that individuals make smart decisions.”

GOP backs down on “right to work” in two states

“COLUMBUS, Ohio – Fearing public reaction which could hurt their party at the polls next year – symbolized by a mass May Day protest on the state Capitol lawn in Columbus, Ohio – Republican state legislative leaders in Ohio and Missouri effectively stopped drives for so-called “right to work” lawsin those legislatures.

“But the fight isn’t over yet, at least in Ohio. The Buckeye State’s statewide tea party affiliate says it will gather signatures, facing a July deadline, to put “right to work” on the ballot this November.

“Right to work (for less) is a longtime cause of business and its legislative handmaidens. Since the 2010 GOP mid-term election sweep, the radical right – led by the secretive, extremist American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and so-called tea party groups – have joined that cause.

ALEC’s Most Wanted: Exposing a Front Group for Fossil Fuel Interests (and Other Corporations)

“The Center for Media and Democracy’s (CMD) Brendan Fischer and Nick Surgey uncovered an internal document from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) at the controversial organization’s meeting last week in Oklahoma City. The document entitled “OKC anti-ALEC photos” featured the headshots of eight reporters and public interest advocates that have written about ALEC or been critical of ALEC’s activities (as a front group working on behalf of its corporate membership).” 

Congressmen Pocan and Ellison Introduce “Right to Vote” Constitutional Amendment

“The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected,” wrote Thomas Paine in 1795.

Yet contrary to popular belief, there is no affirmative right to vote in the U.S. Constitution. This gap in our founding document has provided an opening for the wave of voter suppression measures that swept the country in recent years, and before that, the poll taxes and Jim Crow restrictions that disenfranchised millions. This week, two Congressmen — both from states at the epicenter of today’s voting rights struggles — are seeking to fix that.

“The right to vote is too important to be left unprotected,” said Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, who is co-sponsoring an amendment to the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing the right to vote.

“Pocan’s state, Wisconsin, passed one of the strictest voter ID laws in the country in 2011 after Governor Scott Walker and a GOP-dominated legislature took power. The law threatened to disenfranchise more than 300,000 voters who did not have the required forms of ID, primarily people of color, students, and the elderly. (Like many of the restrictive voter ID laws proposed since 2011, the bill tracked a “model” Voter ID Act from the American Legislative Exchange Council). But just months after Wisconsin’s law was enacted, a state court struck down the law based on the Wisconsin Constitution’s protections for voting rights.” 

Grading schools based on conservative ideals

“With the release of letter grades for Maine’s schools, Gov. Paul LePage unveiled yet another aspect of his misguided plan to reform education in the state. Looking to Florida as a model, he and his education commissioner assigned each school a grade on a scale of A to F and then published the results without ever explaining to the schools on what basis they were being graded. Imagine if your child were to bring home a letter grade on a test that he or she knew nothing about. You’d be outraged.

“Maine, by the way, also outranked Florida at No. 14 in fourth grade reading and No. 7 in eighth grade scores. So why choose Florida as a model? Why fly a delegation of politicians more than 1,000 miles to tell us how to change our schools when Massachusetts is a car ride away?

“We need look no further than The American Legislative Exchange Council for an answer. ALEC is a conservative think tank and lobbying group that writes model legislation on a variety of topics, including education. ALEC’s favorite education state is Florida, and LePage is one of ALEC’s biggest fans. In fact, his “Putting Students First” plan for Maine takes its language directly from ALEC.

“Among the strategies that ALEC promotes is assigning grades to schools. It assigned Florida the highest grade and awarded Massachusetts a C. ALEC’s grading system is based on how well states implement its conservative platform that includes privatizing education through school vouchers, lifting caps on charter schools, watering down teacher licensing requirements, supporting private schools at public expense, eroding local control through school choice programs, lifting homeschool regulations and encouraging virtual schooling.

Traffic Ticket Camera Company Channels Kafka, Threatening Court Appearances, Even Though “No Such Court Exists”

In fact, the plaintiffs say, a state judge has told the city that its system is illegal.

“May 15, 2013  |  A class action suit claims the City of Center Point and Redflex Traffic Systems illegally ticket drivers by threatening them with a court appearance if they refuse to pay fines, though “no such court exists.”

“Redflex owns and operates the traffic cameras for Center Point, which photographs cars believed to run red lights or stop signs or speed. 

“Similarly, the Notice of Violation sent to Stubbs and other members of the Class did not explain that the $100 ‘fine’ could not be collected unless the City filed a later, separate civil suit. Neither Ms. Stubbs nor any other Class member was informed that the Notice of Violation was not judicial in nature but was actually a non-binding collection notice.”

These laws allowing ticketing of vehicle owners based upon camera’s operated by a private company, are ALEC adopted model bills.  Originally submitted by American Traffic Solutions (an ALEC member) this legislation is being used in several states.  Those ticketed receive notices from the private company to pay traffic fines directly to the company.  Once received the private surveillance camera company takes their cut and forwards the balance to the clerk of the court.  In this way as described in this article about Mississippi, this removes any pretense of judicial review or appeal.  The cities using this form of surveillance often increase fines to cover the cost of additional paperwork or court appearances sought for defending such “camera tickets.”

NASDAQ Data Reveals Who’s Getting Rich Off the Prison-Industrial Complex

“Using NASDAQ data, I looked through the long list of investors in Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group, the two biggest corporations that operate detention centers in the US, to find out who was cashing in the most on prisons. When we say “prison-industrial complex,” this is who we’re talking about. 

Retired People and Probably You
“The Vanguard Group and Fidelity Investments are America’s top two 401(k) providers. They are also two of the private prison industry’s biggest investors.

“Together, they own about 20 percent of both CCA and GEO. That means if you have a 401(k) plan, there’s a good chance you benefit financially from private prisons. And even if you don’t, there are many more mutual funds, brokerage firms, and banks that invest in private prisons—it being a growth industry and all—so if you have money somewhere other than your wallet or your mattress, it’s a good bet you’re involved in some way with companies that are locking up and probably abusing inmates.

“This is especially true for government employees like public school teachers because their retirement funds are some of the biggest investors in private prisons. According to NASDAQ data, the retirement funds for public employees and teachers in New York and California together have about $60 million ($30 million each) invested in CCA and GEO. Teacher retirement funds in Texas and Kentucky have $8.3 million and $4 million invested in prisons respectively, and public employees in Florida ($10.3 million), Ohio ($8.6 million), Texas ($5.6 million), Arizona ($5.3 million), and Colorado ($2.25 million) are also connected to the industry. Except for New York, which has only one privately run detention facility, each of these states has several prisons run by CCA and GEO Group facilities. And it’s not just Americans who have ties to prisons. Foreign investors have money in them as well, including the pension fund for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which recently sold off its $5.1 million worth of GEO Group stock.”

 

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

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

By Bob Sloan

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

Click on a link to view the complete article.

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

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

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

Renewable energy becomes a utility lifeline

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

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

The Oil And Gas Industry’s Assault On Renewable Energy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Governor Mary Fallin to Address Legislators from Across the United States

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

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

LETTER: ALEC too far right for these groups

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

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

ALEC related material published or distributed by ALEC…

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

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

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

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

ALEC Covering Tracks in Advance of Oklahoma Meeting

ALEC Covering Tracks in Advance of Oklahoma Meeting

From PRWatch by Brendan Fischer

For months now the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has been submitting FOIA requests to Wisconsin lawmakers.  They have requested emails to/from legislators and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  These requests for documentation is in pursuit of transparency…to determine model legislation emanating from ALEC that is introduced in Wisconsin.  In addition, CMD asked for materials that would be distributed by ALEC at their Spring Task Force Summit this week in Oklahoma City, Ok.

Regardless of claims of transparency given to MSM and conservative media outlets by ALEC, their actions refute such claims.  For instance, in March ALEC announced it was making their “library” of model bills public in an effort of promoting transparency.  They not only made their model legislation publicly available, in the press release they made their first attempt at distancing themselves from the stigma surrounding the acronym “ALEC”, by now referring to their organization as the “Exchange Council”:

“[T]he Exchange Council develops model policies based on academic research, existing state policy and proven business practices. The Council and its task forces closely imitate the legislative process of state government. Ideas are introduced and assigned to an appropriate task force based on subject and scope. Meetings are conducted where experts present facts and opinions for discussion, just as they would in committee hearings. These discussions are followed by a vote.”

Now we’re informed that actual model bills written and circulated by ALEC to members, for the upcoming conference are so secret ALEC is dispersing them using time sensitive links available only to select members – with a “need to know”.  So much for ALEC’s style of transparency…

“Despite ALEC trying to spin itself as a “transparent” organization, ALEC records have miraculously been disappearing from legislative offices and the organization is engaged in a box drop dodge to avoid disclosure. But while ALEC legislators are meeting behind closed doors with corporate lobbyists, citizens will be rallying in the streets raising awareness about how ALEC’s agenda favors large corporations at the expense of average Americans.

“In the past, the Center for Media and Democracy had obtained advance agendas for ALEC meetings through open records requests to legislators in multiple states. But in recent months ALEC records have miraculously been disappearing from legislative offices.”

Such obfuscation is not a new development…

“This is not the first time that ALEC legislators have attempted to dodge open records requests. Last year, CMD filed a lawsuit against five Wisconsin legislators who had tried evading their responsibilities under the open records law by shifting their ALEC correspondence to a personal email account (like Gmail or Yahoo). When CMD prevailed in the lawsuit, as part of the settlement the legislators acknowledged they had failed to release ALEC-related emails and agreed to comply with the law.”

Someone needs to have a heart-to-heart with ALEC’s new PR Director, Meierling and provide him with Webster’s definition of “transparency.” Nothing about ALEC is transparent – as we have come to understand after several years of research and investigation.  For this an other reasons, demonstrations, marches and union organized events protesting ALEC are being planned for this week in OK. City.  VLTP would urge those located near OK. City to attend and lend their voices to the ALEC inspired protests this week.

Read the entire PRWatch article -> HERE <-

Republicans Applaud the Slow Death of the US Postal Service–VIDEO

“The USPS announced that it will end mail delivery on Saturdays this year.  Republicans in Congress have been waiting for this moment.  Ed Schultz talks to Rep. Gerry Connelly, D-VA, and letter carrier Audrey Himes about what can be done to save the postal service.”
U.S. Postal Service Reports Yearly Loss Of 15.9 Billion Dollars

This is the description of a segment on The Ed Show tonight.  You can watch the video by clicking here.

But this is not quite the full underlying story of the USPS’s predicament that it claims to be, as readers of www.vltp.net know.  Ed stops short of noting that this goes beyond the Republican Party, this goes to their owners – corporations, and their legislative “arm” – ALEC.  I guess that ALEC and the Republican Party are already so intertwined as to be indistinguishable–and that is before the new Republican Study Group-ALEC-Heritage Foundation (now headed by Jim DeMint) formal alliance as reported on in The Center for Media and Democracy‘s PR Watch by Brendan Fischer, please click here for link).

And of course, Ed Schultz needs to comply with MSNBC’s apparent business decision not to talk about ALEC–except when they otherwise make the news.

But I am very surprised about Truthout’s reporting of this.  Truthout is an excellent source for a wide range of information, and their copyrighted reports on The Other ALECs (which we re-printed with their permission here and here) go further than anyone other than VLTP or CMD’s Sourcewatch at identifying the various members of The Cabal.

Why am I surprised?  Well, here is a link to Bob Sloan’s expose on ALEC, The Koch Brothers, and the USPS as published here some 10 months ago.  And here is a link to an infographic in our Photo Gallery showing the Koch network of right wing associates.

But here is what I just don’t get:  If you treat the symptoms rather than treating the disease, you do not arrive at the cure.  If we are to neutralize ALEC then we must talk about them.  As Bob Sloan’s article showed, yes, republicans carried the bill through Congress.  Republican Members of ALEC.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

video and description were posted at:

The Ed Show
Feb. 6, 2013
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/45755822/ns/msnbc-the_ed_show/#50725523

(please note that this clip has been edited to remove the other stories being introduced in the show’s opening)

THE GIANT VS. THE MIDGETS – Rep. Hank Johnson, Congressional Record, 12.12.12

Congressional Record
112th Congress (2011-2012)

“Then you have the commercial committee, let’s call it, of ALEC. They produce legislation such as crush-the-union legislation, also misnamed right-to-work legislation. It is not right-to-work, it is crush-the-union.”

“So the bill, or the bills, that have been passed out of the Michigan assembly in both their house and senate are products of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, almost word for word.”

“And guess what? Those corporations, pursuant to Citizens United, can participate in the campaign process. They can do electioneering. They can influence elections. They can give money to organizations that support candidates. And so it’s an ugly lobbying situation when you put corporations with legislators in a wining-and-dining setting with added benefit of campaign More →

Two More Large Corporations Quit ALEC, Rocking the Conservative Group

By Bob Sloan, at the Daily Kos.

Banner

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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