Aug 2, 2012
This is a series of articles published by Truthout which reports on “The Other ALECs”. A great deal of time and research is evident in these reports, and while some of the claims made in the articles do not match our research findings–I’m sure that these differences will be examined soon–we want you to read these articles to see how ALEC is just one member of what we have been calling The Cabal
The Other ALECs: A Look at the Lesser Known Stealth Lobbies That Write Bills for Your State
“other stealth lobbyists have penetrated bipartisan trade associations for state government officials – groups subsidized by taxpayers. In particular, corporate lobbies advance their agendas through the Council of State Governments – whose multimillion-dollar budget is mostly taxpayer funded – and the National Conference of State Legislatures. Through these innocuously named organizations, lobbyists exploit a well-tethered network of nonprofits representing state-level officials to advance the agendas of their corporate clientele.”
Part 1: Uncovering the Other ALECs
The Other Bill Mill – The Council for State Gpvernment (CSG). Upon being sworn into office, all state-level legislators (there are about 7,500 of them total), as well as their respective legislative staffs, automatically become CSG members. The organization’s membership also includes representatives from the executive and judicial branches of state governments.
The National Conference of State Legislatures NCSL, considered an “instrumentality of the states” by the IRS, has served a “forum for America’s Ideas since 1975.” NCSL plays host to a series of educational conferences and task force meetings, and like its cousin, CSG, it boasts a membership that includes every state-level elected official in the United States.
Though not directly responsible for any policy positions, per se, the State Legislative Leaders Foundation(SLLF) says that it is a “nonprofit, nonpartisan organization established in 1972 for the express purpose of providing our nation’s state legislative leaders with information on critical public policy issues and aspects of leadership.”
Part 2: Exposed: The Other ALECs’ Corporate Playbook
Founded in 1988, Stateside is self-described as the “industry leader” in state and local governmental affairs counseling. The company’s home pagetempts potential clients with a program that “transcends the conventional categories” of lobbying. The page further explains: “State and local government relations – done well – protects the bottom line, promotes brand awareness, builds champions among policymakers and safeguards the ability of corporations and associations to succeed.” A lobbying behemoth – the self-proclaimed largest firm of its kind – Stateside has enough tricks up its sleeve to tackle even the most difficult, and often delicate, lobbying cases.
The niche of stealth lobbying is so profitable that in addition to Stateside, other firms also participate. One is MultiState Associates. This firm, founded four years before Stateside in 1984, employs the same overall strategy of using the Groups to promote corporate agendas. MultiState offers a flexible, “full range” program to respond to the changing needs of corporate clients.
Sometimes even the best stealth lobbyists need a little help from like-minded friends. For this, they turn to lobbyist trade associations like the State Government Affairs Council (SGAC). SGAC is a private organization, fully funded by contributions from the private sector. Over 182 multinational corporations and/or their affiliated trade associations paid for a SGAC membership in 2012.
What we at VLTP call ALEC DNA, is replicated by “The Playbook”, the M.O. for these “Other ALECs”.
Step One: Fund Groups
Step Two: Representation on Group Boards, Task Forces
Step Three: Set a pro-business Education Agenda
Step Four: Schmooze
Step Five: Model Legislation
Step Six: Model Bills Distributed Nationwide
Part 3: How Big Business Has Triumphed in State Legislatures on Civil Liberties, Higher Education and Energy
Many people concerned about these policies, though, may not realize that the assault on the civil liberties of dissenters in the United States in some instances pre-dated the post-9/11 era. Many also do not realize that a number of recent policies that undermine civil liberties have been advanced through state governments and not just federal agencies. Left off the table, probably accidentally: who defines “terrorism” and what his/her/the organization’s agenda is, the motives behind labeling a group or person a terrorist (and leaving other people or groups off the list), and how malleable the term has been, as Greenwald pointed out, since its popularization in the United States in the 1980s under then-President Ronald Reagan.
The Other ALECs’ higher education agenda goes well beyond performance standards and delves into the sphere of student loan debt and the privatization of public universities.
Last December, ALEC adopted model legislation, based on a Texas law, addressing the public disclosure of chemicals in drilling fluids used to extract natural gas through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The ALEC legislation, which has since provided the basis for similar bills submitted in five states, has been promoted as a victory for consumers’ right to know about potential drinking water contaminants. This bill was a CSG model months before it became an ALEC model.
The CSG agenda goes above and beyond the actual promotion of the production of dirty energy resources like fracking and ethanol and into the promotion of the burial of carbon into the ground in a process known as carbon sequestration, sometimes also referred to by propagandists as “clean coal.” Put more bluntly: this model bill was written by the oil and gas industry, for the oil and gas industry.
Part 4: The Other ALECs’ K-12 Education Agenda Exposed The economic crisis has created a rationale for ALEC and other stealth lobbyists to push privatization campaigns while claiming that they are necessary “reforms” for improving our failing education system, according to Brian Jones, a teacher and New York-based activist featured in the education documentary “The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman.” “For the charter operators, ‘reform’ means more money, bigger salaries, etc. For the politicians, it means they get to shout to working and poor people about how they’re reforming education, while doing a huge favor to wealthy, powerful interests,” Jones told Truthout.
The Gates Foundation alone gave $400,000 to a CSG program dedicated to “reforming” public education and pushing charter schools. Gates also financially supports a CSG initiative to collaborate with Boeing to create “fair and reliable measures of teacher effectiveness that are tied to gains in student achievement.” None of these contributions even account for Microsoft’s sizable donations to CSG.
CSG’s “Model” for Public Education
Teacher Tenure/Education Identifier Initiatives;
Copyright, Truthout. Reprinted with permission. To read the entire Truthout series on The Other ALECs, they may be found at the following links: