voter suppression

One Percenters Buying Themselves an Aristocracy

The U.S. Constitution guarantees separation of church and state. What this nation needs now is separation of wealth and state.

Without such a protection, Americans stand to lose their democracy. They’ll be ruled instead by an aristocracy of 1 percenters.

That’s the 1 percenters’ plan. To them, it was no more than a perk when the U.S. Supreme Court enabled politicians to open their wallets for unlimited, anonymous campaign contributions. That’s because way before the 2010 Citizens United ruling, 1 percenters were working on a takeover. If the 99 percent don’t stop them soon, don’t establish some sort of separation of wealth and state, then the nation will lose its founding precepts — that all men are created equal and that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Aristocracies can ignore the governed.

Already the 1 percenters have been extraordinarily successful. The rich really do enjoy advantages. They’ve succeeded in stuffing Congress with their peers. In America, fewer than 1 percent of all people are millionaires. In Congress, 47 percent are. The median net worth of a U.S. senator in 2010 was $2.56 million.

To read this incisive article by Leo W. Gerard, President of the United Steelworkers, please click here

This Is What Voter Suppression Looks Like – VIDEO

Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews discuss the rapid decrease of Democratic voting registration in Florida and discuss the voter suppression in the state.  Please click here to watch the video.

Following up on this at The Maddow Blog:

…Republicans in Florida set out to make registering voters harder for this election. The new rules took effect last year, and the results are clear. Republicans are still reaching and registering new voters, if not quite as many. Democrats, as you can see on the chart (below), are scarcely registering new voters at all.

In May, a federal court blocked enforcement of the law. The Florida Times-Union reports that June and July posted the highest numbers of new voters all year.

Has Rick Scott gotten away with disenfranchising poor people of all races, and people of color– who’ve historically had to do battle with laws preventing them from voting; as well as senior citizens and college students. Then, there are groups like newly-married couples, or newly-divorced ones, the transgendered community, Native Americans, American citizens with immigrant family members, and, to add insult to injury……those who may have recently lost their homes due to the foreclosure crisis?

Hey, you there in Florida, your voting apathy in 2010 is why you (and the rest of America) are stuck with Rick Scott in the first place.

This is much bigger than one presidential election. This is about the future of our democracy. Please, register to vote.  Then be ready to either fill in and mail your absentee ballots—give them a week or two to be delivered–or get in line on November 6.

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.

Mich. Court of Appeals smacks down Snyder & Schuette, orders collective bargaining amendment onto ballot

Score one for the good guys

The Michigan Court of Appeals has once again ordered the Republicans on the Board of State Canvassers to halt their efforts to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Michigan voters and directed them to place the Protect Working Families, formerly Protect Our Jobs, ballot initiative on the November ballot. The measure will ensure that collective bargaining rights are protected in our state constitution and prevent the wholesale destruction of those rights by extremist anti-labor majorities like we have in our state legislature today.

To read this important story, please click here

Voter Suppression in Ohio

The ALEC “Trifecta”

Over the past two years we’ve seen a very partisan form of state government in Ohio.  Governor John Kasich promoted and signed legislation that directly attacked organized labor (SB-5, a collective bargaining overhaul) which became the centerpiece of the Ohio Republican Party agenda last year and an issue championed by the GOP Governor.  Kasich has been pursuing a specific agenda along with other highly placed state appointed and elected officials.  The Governor and at least two top Ohio state officials share alumnus status with the developer of that agenda – ALEC.Kasich pushed for privatized education – K-12 through  college – accomplished through cuts to education spending, signed legislation allowing fracking,  and slashed funding for the Ohio Consumer’s Counsel  (OCC) which has interfered with Duke Energy’s attempts to pass along storm damage repairs to their customers.

Kasich appointed former Representative Todd Snitchler (R) to the position of Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) in 2011. One of Snitchler’s first acts was to approve rate increases proposed by Duke Energy and American Electric Power (AEP). Snitchler touted consumers would see smaller energy bills under the plans. Within 60 days of approval, PUCO and Snitchler repealed the approval after schools, residents and businesses saw rate increases of as much as 50% by both Duke and AEP.

More recently a furor has arisen over early voting hours, voter ID fraud and “election reform,” with Kasich signing a reform bill that overturned last year’s bill actually providing election reform.  The net was that it would restrict early voting in Ohio.

Ohio’s current Secretary of State Jon Husted served six terms as a member of the Ohio House and 1 year in the state Senate before being elected as Secretary in 2010. He has been at the center of a maelstrom of controversy over allowing some Republic counties to extend early voting hours while restricting Democratic counties to shorter hours.  Last week he suspended two election board officials who voted to keep weekend early voting – only to reinstate those member this week.

All of the issues mentioned above are parts of an agenda advanced by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  Nationally they have pursued a suppression of minority voters through voter ID “model legislation”, support for state legislation to allow fracking, unlimited drilling, and opposing renewable energy initiatives.

What most Ohio voters and consumers are unaware of is that Kasich, Husted and Snitchler are all ALEC Alumni:

Election Fraud in America

This database contains all cases reported to News21 of alleged election fraud across America since 2000.  Search it to find specifics about such cases by state, individual and category of fraud. Read our story and the methodology explaining how the data was gathered and its limitations.

National

The nation has 2,068 cases of alleged election fraud since 2000. By category, Unknown had the highest percentage of accused at 31 percent (645 cases), followed by Voters at 31 percent (633 cases). The most prevalent fraud was Absentee Ballot Fraud at 24 percent (491 cases). The status of most cases was pleaded at 27 percent (558 cases). Responses to requests for public records varied from state to state. Some state and local officials were quick to respond by sending available records; others failed to provide a single document.

To access and use the voting fraud database, please click here

 

 

 

 

Key fundraiser for DNC has close links to right wing bill mill

All the way from Northern California we found this take on the letter that Greenpeace sent to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Chair of the Democratic Party about Duke Energy’s duplicity,  In conjunction with the Coalition to March Against Wall Street, this is going to be the largest protest that Charlotte has ever seen.

Key sponsor of the Democratic National Convention, Duke Energy, has strong connections to ALEC, including staff that work with the group and a history of large donations.

“The DNC is shooting itself in the foot aligning itself with organizations that have such close ties to ALEC. ALEC is directly working to undermine the democratic process,” said Greenpeace spokesperson Monica Embrey.

ALEC, while best known for its work on the infamous Stand Your Ground laws, is behind many of the current voter suppression laws. ALEC also promotes an array of anti-environmental policies, often to the benefit of the fossil fuel lobby.

ALEC regularly launches attacks on clean energy programs and regional climate agreements, efforts Duke claims to support in its corporate literature, but is clearly working to undermine behind closed doors.

“Duke Energy may be fronting up the money for the Democrats, but contrasting their work with ALEC clearly shows they are just playing political games to increase their own dirty influence at every turn. We encourage the DNC to end its relationship with Duke until it renounces its membership in radical front groups like ALEC,” Ms Embrey said.

To read Greenpeace’s entire letter to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, please click here.

To read this entire article, please click here

 

ALEC’s Koch Funded Cabal “Educating” our state and Federal Judges

ALEC’s Koch Funded Cabal “Educating” our state and Federal Judges

A VLTP Special Report – ALEC’s Federal Interference, Part II

August 20, 2012 | by Bob Sloan

Last month I began a two part series that began with “ALEC, the Koch Led CABAL & “The Amicus Project” – Fed Court Interference.” The first segment dealt with identifying and exposing ALEC’s Koch-funded cabal interfering with our judicial processes by filing hundreds of “Amicus Briefs” to state and federal courts in pending cases.  These were cases involving issues under the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th and 14th Amendments and other rights – and submitted by numerous cabal members, such as ALEC, Heritage, Heartland, Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Businesses, CATO, Mackinac, etc.

When they file these briefs it is not sufficient to simply join together and file one comprehensive “brief” or argument in support of whatever position the cabal’s side is advocating for.  No, they file separate briefs making it appear that there is a groundswell of support on the cabal’s side of an issue.  I described this as the “front door” access the cabal uses in their attempts to influence outcomes in judicial cases involving legislative and related pursuits of the cabal.

This diary will introduce everyone to the cabal’s “back door” access to and influence upon state and federal judges through seminars and conferences provided by the cabal members...to in effect “program” judges to rule favorably in key cases.  These seminars are used to “educate” our judiciary as to the positions held by corporations and other matters important to businesses and their wealthy owners.  These seminars are provided to judges prior to important case reviews…the amicus briefs are “reminders” to the judges of what they “learned”through these seminars that were provided along with luxury vacations paid for by many corporations that may eventually wind up as a party before one or more of these judges.

The seminars take place at truly plush resorts (many of them the same used by ALEC for their annual meetings involving legislators) during all expense trips provided to the judges by a number of Conservative funded organizations (click the blue links for more information about these groups); the Foundation for Research on Economics and Environment (FREE Foundation), George Mason University’s Law and Economics Center, Northwestern University’s Northwestern Law Judicial Education Program, James Madison University’s Center for the Constitution at Montpelier and several other, smaller organizations.

These seminars are a way for ALEC’s corporate members and contributors to assist the cabal’s pursuit of influencing judges to render pro-corporate decisions on important issues and cases.  Below the fold I’ll provide some of the information, a video from ABC’s 20/20 and other documents identifying how this entire “system” has been set up, the funders and backers and the impact these maneuvers have had upon our judicial system.

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Since the founding of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in 1973, conservative Republicans have pursued one overall objective – to control all three branches of the federal government.  The reason for seeking to gain total control is obvious.

In this pursuit they began by striving to grab control of state government’s three branches: legislative, judicial and gubernatorial.  In this latter effort, they have been relatively successful in that today they have twenty-one fully controlled state governments.  Many of these states became “Red” after the 2010 election that brought wins to the Tea Party and control to the GOP in more states than ever before.

It isn’t sufficient for anyone seeking control of our government to merely hold a majority in any of the three branches of government – they also need those in the controlling majorities to think like they do, owe their careers to those who worked to put them in office or exhibit a genuine allegiance to an overall agenda.

In 2001 ABC’s 20/20 presented an expose titled “Junkets for Judges” which can be found on YouTube in a two part presentation.  Here is a link to part two.

An important part of the foregoing investigative report is the fact that they claim as of 2001 they had identified more than 500 US judges who had attended these seminars.  Many that attended were at the time sitting in review of cases involving issues that were discussed at the seminars – and some returned to their courtrooms, and ruled favorably on behalf of corporate rights over governmental rights.  This 20/20 report only reports on the GMU seminars.  They don’t address the ones provided by FREE, Northwestern University, Liberty Fund or others.  At that time FREE had not opened their doors to state appellate and Supreme Court Justices and judges, providing the same pro-corporate seminars to them.

These junkets are designed to provide attending judges with an ultra-conservative, pro-corporate outlook on key issues.  During these free trips judges attend daily seminars provided by purported scientists, corporate executives and others advancing a one-sided, pro-corporate, free-market conservative ideology.  The seminars are designed to impart to the attending judiciary, corporate or business points of view on critical issues involving environment, economics, tort reform, EPA and takings law (eminent domain).

The cabal uses these free vacations in the same manner as the travel companies and time share companies do…everyone of us has been subjected to offers of “free vacations” for simply attending a time share presentation.  None of us plan on buying a time share, or joining a “discount” club – but face it, many do and for that reason the techniques are successful and continue to be used year after year.  These judicial education trips are no different.  Judges get an all expense paid trip, thinking they will have fun and can ignore the  propaganda presented in the seminars…but in the end, if they want to be able to take more of these trips, at some point they have to rule as if they’ve “learned” something at the previous ones, and thus be allowed subsequent trips.

I’m sure that those behind this activity involving the programming of judges, will no doubt claim that everyone has the right to advance their own arguments on important legal cases…that there are numerous other organizations providing seminars, conferences and work shops for judges.  Just as they’ve done in defense of ALEC’s operations and pursuits of proposing and passing state laws favorable to their conservative political agenda.

There are important differences between the cabal’s efforts of influencing the judiciary – and legislation – and the efforts put forth by others; the partisanship of their efforts.  All of their activities are designed to advance a pro-corporate, conservatively political position.  The claim of bi-partisanship or non-partisan makeup of the cabal’s members is delusional.  ALEC for instance has conservative leaning Democratic members, but they hold no positions of authority within the ALEC hierarchy; no chairmanship of ALEC’s task forces, on their Public sector board, etc.

Though the 20/20 expose concentrated upon George Mason University’s involvement in providing these trips for our judges,we found several additional universities and private, non-profit organizations participating in these efforts at both the state and federal level.  All but one are provided by conservative organizations, foundations or schools:

•    George Mason University(Law and Economics Center – LEC)   (Recipient of Koch funding totaling $20,297,143 from 1986-2006 ), Earhart Foundation, JM Olin Foundation.
•    Foundation for Research on Economics and Environment (FREE).  Funded by ExxonMobil, GE Foundation, Koch Family Foundation  ($1,305,500 through 2006), JM Olin Foundation, Earhart Foundation and Castle Rock Foundation (Coors). ($65,000 in 2009) and the Claude Lambe Foundation ($1,540,000).
•    Northwestern Law Judicial Education Program (funded by many key ALEC members, including Koch) .
•    Liberty Fund providing judicial conferences and seminars to/for Judges.
•    Federalist Society  (Koch funded   $1,437,200 through 2006)
•    Aspen Institute (Koch funded  $1,115,000 through 2006 with David Koch on the BOD).
•    University of Kansas, Law and Organizational Economics Center (LOEC) begun in 1995 by Henry Butler  with a $1,000,000 grant from the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation (see section on Henry Butler below).
•    International Judicial Academy which provides seminars for judges on the International level.

Supporters of the IJA have included; JEHT Foundation and Foundation to Promote Open Society.  JEHT Foundation ceased to operate in 2009 due to the Madoff ponzi scheme where their money was invested.  Foundation to Promote Open Society gets some of their principal funding from George Soros. Much of their contributions and donations received – along with their expenditures – are to/from other countries and include non-Soros’ funding.If you would like to know if a specific federal judge has attended one or more of these seminars, please visit http://tripsforjudges.org/ where you can input a judge’s name and search by organization, foundation, etc.  This link is somewhat outdated and does not have current information for 2012, but much of the information is in there and worth a look.

Other organizations provide judicial “training” to state and federal judges, but the foregoing seven are those with ongoing regularly scheduled seminars and trips.  Some completely reimburse judges for travel, housing and food while others reimburse to a set amount (such as U of K’s LOEC that reimbursed state judges up to $500.00 cap for travel).

The funding for six of the seven providing such judicial trips are funded with money from one or more of the Koch controlled family foundations.  In addition many known conservative foundations also fund these trips and seminars for judges, including; John M. Olin Foundation, Inc., M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Castle Rock Foundation, Claude Lambe Foundation (Koch controlled) and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

A sampling of topics presented in the seminars to these judges – state and federal – include; environment, takings laws (imminent domain), economics, tort reform, juror selection and jury decision making, The presentations are made by speakers from various colleges, universities and of greater importance from corporate CEO’s and executives representing Shell Oil and other major ALEC member corporations.  In addition many of the presentations are made by those representing; Heritage Foundation,  American Enterprise Institute, National Center for Policy Analysis, George Mason University, Brookings Institute and several other mostly conservative entities.

Trip/seminar funding listed by George Mason University include most of ALEC’s for profit corporate members, and the non-profits that fund ALEC – and most have ties to the Koch and related foundations previously mentioned.  (Those in bold are known ALEC/Koch benefactors, affiliates or corporate members). These funders are:

3M (former ALEC member)
Abbott Laboratories  (ALEC member)
Aequus Institute
Armstrong Foundation  (ALEC funding source)
AT&T (ALEC Member)
Atlas Economic Research Foundation
Batchelder III, Hon. William G. (current Speaker of the Ohio House)
Batchelder, Hon. Alice M. (Chief Judge, United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit)
BP America, Inc. (ALEC member)
Brunswick Corporation
Castle Rock Foundation (Coors, ALEC funder)
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation (ALEC Funding)
CIGNA Corporation (ALEC affiliated through Nickles Lobby firm)
Coca-Cola Company (former ALEC member)
Commonwealth of VA Tax Donations
Cortopassi Institute
Dow Chemical Company  (ALEC member)
Earhart Foundation
Exxon Mobil Corporation (ALEC member)
FedEx Corporation (ALEC member)
General Motors Corporation (ALEC member)
Gillette Company
Goodrich Foundation
John M. Olin Foundation
John William Pope Foundation
Johnson & Johnson (ALEC member)
Lilly Endowment, Inc. (ALEC member [Eli Lilly parent])
Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
Oblon, Spivak, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt (Koch Ind. Patent Atty)
Pepsico Inc. (former ALEC member)
Pfizer, Inc. (ALEC member)
Property and Casualty Ins. Ass.
Randolph Foundation
Roe Foundation
Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc.
Sarah Jane Humphreys Foundation, Inc.
Sarah Scaife Foundation, Inc.
Searle Freedom Trust
Sharp Foundation
Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation
Shell Oil Company (ALEC member)
State Farm Insurance Companies (ALEC member)
Sunmark Foundation
U.S. Chamber of Commerce (ALEC member and joint amicus brief filings)
Unilever United States, Inc. (former ALEC member)
Verizon Communications (ALEC member)
William E. Simon Foundation
J.P. Humphreys Foundation

And when we researched Northwestern Law’s Judicial Education Seminars we found many of the same funding sources:

American Petroleum Institute (ALEC affiliate)
AT&T Inc. (ALEC member_
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation
 (ALEC benefactor/member)
Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
Exxon Mobil Corporation (ALEC member)
LyondellBasell Industries (ALEC member)
McDonald’s Corporation (former ALEC member)
Microsoft Corporation (ALEC member)
Pfizer Inc. (ALEC member)
Searle Freedom Trust (ALEC affiliate – Heritage Foundation funder)
Shell Oil Company (ALEC member)
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (ALEC member)
The Dow Chemical Company (ALEC member)
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation (ALEC/Koch affiliate & funding)
U.S. Chamber of Commerce (ALEC affiliate and joint amicus brief filings)

Here is a picture from FREE’s 2007 website that listed their funding sources for the judicial education program:free 2007 funding

Again, we see many of the same sources that are funding GMU and Northwestern University’s programs.  Note the corporate donors are all ALEC members – or were in 2007 – and the $100,000 annual contribution from the Koch’s Claude Lambe Foundation.

In 2006 federal courts began requiring that all “seminars” provided to judges had to be reported.  The reports required submission of the organization providing the seminars, topics presented and the name and organization presenting, where the funding came from for each.  A current listing of seminars held and reported to the US court since 2009 is found here.  As you’ll find if you visit, there are page after page of such seminars directed at “educating” our judges – state and federal.  Each one has basically the same funders, presenters, and you’ll also see that in many cases funding is provided by federal judges and their wives for these events.

The FREE foundation was uncomfortable filing such reports with the court system, so after we exposed them in 2010-2011, FREE decided to stop dedicating their seminars to judges.  Now they provide the same seminars, with the same topics and presenters but provide that these are for “Religious Leaders”.  Judges are still free to attend these FREE seminars – but since FREE lists them as for Religious Leaders, there is no requirement to submit reports to the US court system about them…no list of benefactors, topics, presenters, attendees, etc.

George Mason, Northwestern, Liberty Fund all continue to report their judicial seminars to the federal court as required.  FREE is the only one to cease their reporting by now claiming that their seminars are no longer dedicated to judicial education – but the seminars are “still open to judges” that wish to attend.

As with the ALEC model legislation, many of the titles provided for the topics covered in these judicial seminars are worded innocuously so they sound non-partisan and beneficial to the public as a whole.  We learned with ALEC to be suspicious of the wording of their proposed legislation and look instead to the content.  One has to do the same with the titles of the seminars and subjects listed for educating judges.  Below are just a few.  Those in bold are known ALEC/Koch affiliates:

Center for the Constitution at Montpelier June and December 2010 (Funder: Robert H. Smith)The Future of Executive Authority
Historical Context of the Constitution Related to Modern Technology
Future of the Fourth Amendment
Bioengineering and the Future of 14th Amendment Personhood

Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment August 2011 (funded by MJ Murdock Charitable Trust)
Taking the Long View of Progress

Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment July 2010 (funded byMJ Murdock Charitable Trust)

George Sack (John Hopkins University)
Addiction: A Disease of the Brain or a Disorder of Choice?

Sally Satel (American Enterprise Institute)
Delusions and Dreams vs. Consumer Driven Health Care

Regina Herzlinger (Harvard Business School)
Foundations for Understanding Health Care Policy

Regina Herzlinger (Harvard Business School)
Genetics and the Future of Medicine

Raymond Gesteland (University of Utah)
Genetics and the Future of Medicine

George Sack (John Hopkins University)
Information, Incentives & Health Care Decision Making

John Goodman (National Center for Policy Analysis)
Perspecives from a Medical Entrepreneur

George Herzlinger (Belmont Instrument Corporation)
Potentials for Policy Reform

John Goodman (National Center for Policy Analysis)
Potentials for Policy Reform

Regina Herzlinger (Harvard Business School)
Practical Problems with Organ Donation

Sally Satel (American Enterprise Institute)
Reflection on Science and Policy

Raymond Gesteland (University of Utah)
Reflection on Science and Policy

Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment August 2010 (funded by MJ Murdock Charitable Trust – Seminar title: Terrorism, Civil Liberty and National Security [08/08/2010 – 08/12/2010] (continued))

James Carafano (The Heritage Foundation)
Cyber-Screwed- Why We Can’t Fight Cyber-terrorism

James Carafano (The Heritage Foundation)
The Unhappy Marriage: Civil-Military Discord in Fighting Terrorism

Charles Fried (Harvard Law School)
Sunni and Shi’a: There Are Differences and Why They Matter

Richard Stearns (United States District Court)
Terrorism and the Allocation of Public Resources

Richard Stearns (United States District Court)
The Limits of Law- The Necessity of Executive Disobedience

Charles Fried (Harvard Law School)
The Limits of Law- The Necessity of Executive Disobedience

George Mason University Law & Economics Center
Seminar title: Economics Institute for Judges, Week 2 [03/10/2012 – 03/16/2012] Funded by xyz corp.

Todd Zywicki (George Mason University School of Law)
Mortgage Markets

Todd Zywicki (George Mason University School of Law)
On the Efficiency of the Common Law

Todd Zywicki (George Mason University School of Law)
The Not-So-Good Old Days of Consumer Credit

Henry N. Butler (George Mason University School of Law)
Economic Thinking

Henry N. Butler (George Mason University School of Law)
Economics of Insurance

Henry N. Butler (George Mason University School of Law)
Law & Economics in the Courts

Henry N. Butler (George Mason University School of Law)
Supply, Demand & Mutually Beneficial Exchange

Northwestern Law Judicial Education Program Seminar title: Advanced Law and Economics Institute: Environmental Economics [09/21/2009 – 09/23/2009]

Funders
American Petroleum Institute
AT&T Inc.
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation
Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
Exxon Mobil Corporation
LyondellBasell Industries
McDonald’s Corporation
Microsoft Corporation
Pfizer Inc.
Searle Freedom Trust
Shell Oil Company
State Farm Mutual Automobil Insurance Company
The Dow Chemical Company
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Speakers/Topics

Henry Butler (Northwestern University School of Law)
Environmental Federalism

Henry Butler (Northwestern University School of Law)
Externalitites

Henry Butler (Northwestern University School of Law)
Markets in Action

Henry Butler (Northwestern University School of Law)
Review of Economic Concepts: Incentives Matter

Northwestern Law Judicial Education Program
Seminar title: Economics Institute for Judges [10/11/2009 – 10/16/2009]

Henry Butler (Northwestern University School of Law)
Corporate Governance

Henry Butler (Northwestern University School of Law)
Economic Evidence

Henry Butler (Northwestern University School of Law)
Forensic Economics

Henry Butler (Northwestern University School of Law)
Information and Prices, Allocative Efficiency, Equilibrium

Henry Butler (Northwestern University School of Law)
Principal-Agent Problems and Contracting

Henry Butler (Northwestern University School of Law)
Risk, Injury, and Liability

Henry Butler (Northwestern University School of Law)
Scarcity, Mutually Beneficial Exchange, Comparative Advantage

George Mason University Law & Economics Center
Seminar title: The Strategic Constitution [10/21/2009 – 10/24/2009]

Robert Cooter (Boalt Hall School of Law, Univ of CA, Berkeley)
The Strategic Constitution

George Mason University Law & Economics Center
Seminar title: Economic Analysis of Law [11/06/2009 – 11/12/2009

Charles Goetz (University of Virginia School of Law)(Member American Family Business Foundation)
Analyzing Human Choice

Henry Manne (George Mason University School of Law (Emeritus)
Corporate Law

William Landes (University of Chicago Law School)
Economic Structure of Tort Law

Charles Goetz (University of Virginia School of Law)
Fairness vs Efficiency

William Landes (University of Chicago Law School)
Intellectual Property

William Landes (University of Chicago Law School)
Negligence, Strict Liability and Causation

Charles Goetz (University of Virginia School of Law)
Rivalrous and Risky Decisions

Charles Goetz was a signatory to Milton Friedman’s letter: “Top Economists Agree: It’s Time to Repeal the Death Tax!” letter sent under the letterhead of the American Family Business Foundation in 2001.  Other signatories included ALEC, Jonathan Williams (ALEC), Art Laffer (ALEC Scholar), Henry N. Butler (review of the US Court’s Seminar reports linked to above, reveals that Butler is a frequent speaker at most of the seminars given to judges).  His credentials vary, sometimes listing him as GMU School of Law, Northwestern U’s School of Law, etc.It is important to know who these people are who are lecturing our judiciary.  Let’s look closer at Henry N. Butler.  As noted above, Butler founded the University of Kansas’ Law and Organizational Economics Center (LOEC) in 1995 with a $1,000,000 grant from the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation.  Here is more on Butler from Wiki:

Henry N. Butler (born c. 1955) is an American professor of law, economics, and public policy. He currently serves as the executive director of the Searle Center at the George Mason University’s School of Law. He formerly served as the Director of the Judicial Education Program at the American Enterprise Institute-Brookings Institution Joint Center for Regulatory Studies. Butler is a conservative and a supporter of free markets with little regulation; he has acted as an expert witness in a legal cases involving antitrust, restrictive covenants, damages, joint ventures, and other issues.Butler ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia’s 11th congressional district in the 1992 elections; he lost the general election to Democrat Leslie L. Byrne.

Butler received his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of Richmond in 1977. He then attended Virginia Tech, where he earned a Master of Arts in 1979 and a Ph.D. in 1982. There he studied under Nobel Economics Laureate James M. Buchanan. Butler received his Juris Doctor law degree from the University of Miami School of Law in 1982, where he was a John M. Olin Fellow in Law and Economics.

Butler spent three years at Texas A&M as an assistant professor of management before becoming a John M. Olin Fellow in Law and Economics at the University of Chicago Law School during the 1985-86 academic year. From 1986 to 1993, Butler was a professor at George Mason University School of Law. After 1992 Butler was a Fred C. and Mary R. Koch Distinguished Professor of Law and Economics at the University of Kansas School of Law and School of Business, and for a short time served as dean of the Chapman University, Argyros School of Business and Economics and Chairman of the Chapman University Law and Organizational Economics Center before moving to Chapman in 2001.

Butler has been involved in the political and legal spheres. While at George Mason University, he served as director of the Law and Economics Center at the George Mason University School of Law, which operates the Economics Institutes program for federal judges, which is controversial. In December 1995, Butler introduced the Economics Institute for State Judges at the University of Kansas’ Law and Organizational Economics Center.

Butler has written extensively on law and economics. He has written a casebook, Economic Analysis for Lawyers (with Christopher Drahozal, Carolina Academic Press), used at the Economics Institute for State Judges. Other books by Butler include Unhealthy Alliances: Bureaucrats, Interest Groups, and Politicians in Health (1994,American Entreprise Institute) The Corporation and the Constitution (with Larry E. Ribstein; 1995, American Entreprise Institute); and Using Federalism to Improve Environmental Policy (with Jonathan R. Macey; 1996, American Entreprise Institute).

Butler serves on the Legal Advisory Council of the AEI Legal Center for the Public Interest and the Advisory Board of the Atlantic Legal Foundation.

Butler has been cited (report to the Kansas Insurance Commission) in key reports involving insurance and spoken to the Federal Trade Commission on economic issues.University of Kansas, School of Law…”a Fred C. and Mary R. Koch Distinguished Professor of Law and Economics at the University of Kansas School of Law.  Know who else is now advocating “Excellence in Advocacy” at U of K’s School of Law?  Shook, Hardy and Bacon – the law firm that advances ALEC’s “Tort Reform” model legislation through the Civil Justice Task Force.  The CJTF is directed by Victor Schwartz of SHB, and another SHB attorney sits as the CJTF “Advisor” – Mark Behrens.

Here’s a picture of Victor Schwartz of SHB giving a presentation on Tort Reform to ALEC’s Civil Justice Task Force working group in 2010 in San Diego:

Schwartz at ALEC TF Meeting in SD

Today as yesterday, pictures say a lot…here are three pictures of Henry Butler.  In the first, he’s speaking at ALEC’s 2010 Meeting in San Diego, CA.  In the second he is speaking at a Searle Center judicial seminar in 2010 and in the third are judges sitting in attendance at that seminar…

Henry Butler speaks at ALEC

Henry Butler speaks at Searle Economics Institute seminar

Judges at Searle 2010 Butler Seminar

Another frequently used speaker at these judicial education seminars is Todd Zywiki, professor at GMU.  Here is Zywiki’s bio provided by the FREE Foundation where Zywiki sits upon their Board of Directors:

Todd J. Zywicki is Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law ands Co-Editor of the Supreme Court Economic Review.  From 2003-2004, Professor Zywickiserved as the Director of the Office of Policy Planning at the Federal Trade Commission. He has also taught at Vanderbilt University Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, Boston College Law School, and Mississippi College School of Law.Professor Zywicki clerked for Judge Jerry E. Smith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and worked as an associate at Alston & Bird in Atlanta, Georgia, where he practiced bankruptcy and commercial law. He received his J.D. from the University of Virginia, where he was executive editor of the Virginia Tax Review and John M. Olin Scholar in Law and Economics. Professor Zywicki also received an M.A. in Economics from Clemson University and an A.B. cum Laude with high honors in his major from Dartmouth College.

Professor Zywicki is a Senior Scholar of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Senior Fellow of the James Buchanan Center, Program on Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, at George Mason University, a Senior Fellow of the Goldwater Institute, and a Fellow of the International Centre for Economic Research in Turin, Italy.  During the Fall 2008 Semester Professor Zywicki was the Searle Fellow of the George Mason University School of Law and was a 2008-09 W. Glenn Campbell and Rita Ricardo-Campbell National Fellow and the Arch W. Shaw NationalFellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace.

Professor Zywicki is the author of more than 60 articles in leading law reviews and peer-reviewed economics journals.  He is one of the Top 50 Most Downloaded Law Authors at the Social Science Research Network, both All Time and during the Past 12 Months.  Heserved as the Editor of the Supreme Court Economic Review from 2001-02.  Hehas testified several times before Congress on issues of consumer bankruptcy law and consumer credit and is a frequent commentator on legal issues in the print and broadcast media, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, andThe Laura Ingraham Show.  He is a contributor to the popular legal weblog The Volokh Conspiracy and The Atlantic Business Channel of The Atlanticmagazine.

Professor Zywicki is a member of the Governing Board and the Advisory Council for the Financial Services Research Program at George Washington University School of Business, the Executive Committee for the Federalist Society’s Financial Institutions and E-Commerce Practice Group, the Advisory Council of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Program Advisory Board of the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment.  He is currently the Chair of the Academic Advisory Council for the following organizations: The Bill of Rights Institute, the film “We the People in IMAX,” and the McCormick-Tribune Foundation “Freedom Museum” in Chicago, Illinois.  He serves on the Board of Directors of the Bill of Rights Institute and in 2005 he was elected an Alumni Trustee of the Dartmouth College Board of Trustees.

Federal Judge Jerry E. Smith that Zywiki clerked for, attended many of the GMU and FREE trips and seminars: http://tripsforjudges.org/….  Click on judges, select Jerry E. Smith and look for yourself: trips and seminars from FREE, Liberty Fund, Federalist Society, etc.  Here’s a partial screen shot of some of his attendance:Judge Jerry Smith trips for judges screen shot

The Chairman of FREE is John Baden.  Baden and FREE are not only important as a part of programming our judges, he has shown he has great influence at the SCOTUS level as well (remember I began this with a segment on the use of Amicus briefs used at the federal and SCOTUS levels of our judiciary).  Here is Baden, his wife and FREE’s Associate Director Pete Geddes with Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas at a Heritage Foundation President’s dinner:

SCOTUS Thomas at Heritage Presidential Dinner

Here is a muckety chart showing the connections between Justice Thomas and the Koch cabal…

Harlan R. Crow affiliations

Notice that near the center of this graph, you find beside Thomas: Charles G. Koch foundation, Searle Freedom Trust, American Enterprise Institute, Coors and Castlerock Foundation, Scaife Foundation, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and from there it widens out to include most of the cabal organizations, foundations and individuals involved.

In this graph, you’ll find the connections between Justice Thomas’ law clerk, Naomi Rao and other organizations. (RAO was a witness against the confirmation of Justice Sonia Sotomayor – and links to the Bush administration:

Neomi Rao

Much of the policy, legislation and resolutions the seminars provide to judges are based upon pro-corporate pursuit and are/were financially beneficial to not only the Koch brothers (personally), but to ALEC’s corporate membership; ExxonMobil, AT&T, Koch Industries, PhRMA, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson and Johnson, their Insurance company members, etc.  Not only is Koch’s interests and that of the corporate members assisted through this form of judicial influence, but also other Conservative “foundations” which help fund the cabal’s overall “free market” pursuits.

Arguments that “we’re only doing what other bi-partisan organizations are doing” is bullshit.  As the above demonstrates, all of this is being done to advance an agenda that is totally partisan and dedicated to the views and positions held by one political group – a minority view.  This is how the conservative faction has become able to successfully pursue their vision of democracy and America over the objections raised by the majority.  We now can clearly see all their activities; the model legislation, resolutions, judicial and legislative influences and the corruption bought through campaign contributions.  It all has a purpose, design and end goal…none of which any of us as true Americans will accept or condone.  One glaring example of their pursuits and influence is demonstrated by looking at the Citizen’s United SCOTUS decision and how that has benefited the GOP party – and in particular the conservative faction of that party owned, operated and controlled by the likes of Grover Norquist and Karl Rove.  Look what has happened in America since that single SCOTUS decision brought to us in part through the cooperation of Thomas, Scalia and Alito – all with ties to the Federalist Society and Koch money.

Between ALEC’s Federal Forum Task Force, their Amicus Project and these seminars, our federal judiciary is continuously “educated” in the ways of the cabal and the pro-corporate positions advanced.  At the core of these efforts are several key players; the Koch brothers (obviously), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, George Mason University, Heritage Foundation and Mackinac Center, etc.  The tools used include not just pro-corporate seminars and filing briefs to the same judges – it also includes placement of key “clerks” and “interns” close to these judges and SCOTUS.  With the constant pressure, influence and being in close proximity to individuals representing the cabal, the trend of our courts to lean to the right in many of their decisions and opinions is not surprising.  What is surprising is the fact that all of this has been ongoing for decades and operating quietly under the radar of us all.  They have been so successful that by 2012 this has become the “norm” for political and judicial reporting.  Too many of our large media outlets are now compromised and for those of us operating in “alternative” media outlets, our audiences simply are not large enough to have a substantial impact.  This all works to the benefit of the cabal – who collectively now own or control more than 85% of the US news outlets.

We can ill afford to allow this status quo to continue.  VLTP and our Abolish ALEC group on DK have worked for months on end to research, compile and prepare these investigative reports for Daily Kos readers and Progressive voters.  It is important to make this material available to all – yes, even Republicans who are blissfully unaware of the corrupt influences such as those described above, being wielded under the GOP banner, should be made aware and forced to make a choice as our country moves forward.

In upcoming segments we’ll introduce many to the cabal’s involvement with foreign government representatives (without the knowledge of those nations) to develop U.S. policies and laws…and we’ll provide a true and accurate comparison between the NCSL and ALEC.

Be sure and visit our website at www.vltp.net for the latest news, articles and opinions on ALEC and the cabal.  If interested in research interning, send us an email through the website.  If you have information, ideas or documents, contact us through the website and let’s all work together to disinfect ALEC and the cabal and remove them from our democracy altogether.

Federal Judge Dismisses Right-Wing Challenge to Election Day Registration in Minnesota

But Election Day Registration still at risk because of proposed Photo ID ballot measure…

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Donovan W. Frank dismissed an amended complaint seeking to end Election Day Registration in Minnesota, as filed by a number of right-wing organizations in Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Ritchie.

In his 22-page Memorandum of Opinion and Order [PDF], Judge Frank rejected the plaintiffs central claim that MN Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and other election officials “violated the rights of eligible voters by diluting their votes with the votes of EDRs [Election Day Registered voters].”

Plaintiffs claims, the court stated, were “based on the erroneous premise that election officials must verify voters’ eligibility before their votes are counted.” Citing appellate authority, the court noted that “flawless elections are not constitutionally guaranteed” and that the plaintiffs had failed to allege facts that would establish that state election officials “engaged in invidious discrimination or intentional misconduct.”

As we previously reported, because MN offers EDR and one of the nation’s most liberal voter identification systems, the Land of 10,000 Lakes possesses one of the highest records of voter participation in the nation. It ranked first in the nation during the 2008 Presidential Election and second during the 2010 midterms — a record that is anathema to the goals of anti-voting groups, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

The corporate lobbying group ALEC has long been a central force in the Rightwing push for disenfranchising polling place Photo ID restrictions and other efforts to help suppress the vote.

To read this article in its entirety and find out about other ALEC-inspired GOP efforts to keep Minnesotans from voting,  please click here