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The fact that corporations are writing America’s laws through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is starting to alarm many, including ALEC members who are passing the ALEC content-driven legislation in state house across the country.

At a Town Hall meeting on March 28, 2011 with a couple dozen concerned constitutions in attendance, Republican State Representative Tom McMillin denied membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and was according to eyewitnesses at the event ‘evasive” and "nervous" in his responses to multiple questions about his membership in ALEC and sponsorship of several ALEC-based bills introduced recently in the Michigan Legislature in Lansing.

“Every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins.” - Emerson

Video Courtesy of the Rochester Citizen and other private Citizens who brought this to our attention, thank you.

After repeated questioning by informed citizens Tom McMillin’s only response concerning his ties with the ‘secretive’ ALEC boiled down to “It doesn’t matter….”

McMillin: "Yeah saw some liberal blogs talking about that..."

UPDATE: ALEC Issues Press Release "Setting the Record Straight - Much ado about nothing" - FULL Line by Line ANALYSIS
Translation: "Leave us, the most 'powerful' 'secret' corporate 'lobby' alone or we'll cry..."

Oh Yeah we have been talking, and here's another one. Let’s see more on McMuffin and ALEC updates below…

RELATED: Gov Rick Snyder Sellout? Prefabricated Corporate Michigan (Government) Courtesy of Koch & ALEC Excl.

ORIGINAL STORY on the Rochester Citizen with Video and related posting to Blogging for Michigan.

ALEC: the ‘Most Powerful Lobbyist’ in the Country
Ghostwriting the Law State-by-State
The American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC has been the subject of numerous investigations and reports due to it’s role in ‘ghostwriting’ legislation through hundreds of ‘models’ supported by corporate funding as a ‘charitable’ organization posing as an ‘association’ for chiefly Republican State Legislators across the county. ALEC and its ties the conservative agenda and ‘industry’ like the Heritage Foundation, and state level think tanks like Michigan’s Midland-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Heritage’s affiliate in Michigan are seen as a source for dozens, if not hundreds of bills being introduced in at least 19 or more states, including most states with Republican Governors like Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey and Rick Snyder in Michigan.

Note: The Mackinac Center has added itself to the harassment of academia crowd by requesting emails from whole department at 3 Major Michigan Universities.

More Michigan ALEC Developments
Protecting Corporate Interests from a citizens’ right to know who writes the law
Just recently, Republican Governor Rick Snyder appointed former Michigan ALEC State Chair and former state representative Mary Ann Middaugh to the Michigan Board of Ethics, which oversees ethical conduct of state employees and public officers in Michigan's executive branch.

Wonder what fun things will she be sweeping under the rug?

Maybe the fact that Michigan taxpayers have been paying travel and expenses for Republican ALEC members like McMillin to hang out with corporate CEOs at glamorous resorts to go jet skiing and baseball games at ALEC events?

Tom McMillin: Transparency for Everybody Else, Just not Me
“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity” - Andre Gide

One of ALEC’s latest pushes has been the concept of “Performance-based (or ‘Results-based’) Government” and ‘Transparency”.  They are seeking to put as much information about local government and school district operations on-line as possible. Why? So they can sort out who get what in terms of new privatization contracts and public assets.  Once the privatization, which is at the core of many of the ALEC-based bills recently, of course the transparency dissap0ears just as quickly, creating a situation where citizens will have no visibility whatsoever into the private corporate contracts running everything from schools and major infrastructure like roads and ports,, but also facilities like libraries, pools and any other public asset from which profits can be harvested.

This is from a McMillin Press Release “McMILLIN APPLAUDS GREATER TRANSPARENCY IN HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES” on March 14, 2011

State Rep. Tom McMillin today applauded the new and improved Michigan House of Representatives website that provides an unprecedented level of government transparency. "People deserve the ability to see how their tax dollars are being spent," said McMillin, R-Rochester Hills.  "This new website is a good step towards greater accountability and transparency in government."

(break)

McMillin has been joined by many other House Republicans in support of measures that aim to bring a similar level of transparency to the entire state government. "Government works for the people and every dime we spend belongs to them.  I look forward to the day when transparency becomes the standard, not the exception," McMillin said.

This from a man that can't answer a bacis question about a fact everybody knows already.

It has not yet been determined if this particular ‘transparency bill’ is based on a specific ALEC model, or just part of Rick Snyder's data-driven approach to things, but the daylight between Snyder and the radical right and ALEC legislation is disappearing fast, if there ever was any.

Previously, in an extensive investigation of ALEC activities and relationships in Michigan, Tom McMillin has couple up several times.


SMOKING GUN in MICHIGAN #1 revealed in this article "McMillin Wants to Give Michigan Citizens the Right to Opt out of ObamaCare" in the Rochester Media on February 9, 2011:

State Rep. Tom McMillin last week introduced legislation allowing Michigan residents to opt out of the new federal health care mandate, known as "Obamacare".  "Last year's passage of the takeover of America's healthcare system was a direct assault on Americans' right to make their own informed decisions about their health," said McMillin, R-Rochester Hills.  "This legislation will ensure that Michigan residents will maintain control of their health care, that the Federal government can't get between us and our doctors and that our businesses can't be told what kind of benefits they can and can’t offer their employees."

Read House Bill 4050 (February 2011)

Oh, but there’s the catch… also in the story, which is basically a McMillin press release, we find:

States that have enacted statutes similar to McMillin’s included here, along with the efforts in 37 other states: THIS LINK

Which goes straight to…. You guessed it, right back to ALEC, a couple clips:

In December 2008, ALEC's Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act became model legislation. The model language mirrors Arizona Proposition 101, which was narrowly defeated in 2008.
(break)
The Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act, which was the subject of a front-page New York Times article, has already been filed or prefiled in 38 states - Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Lawmakers in an additional three states- Montana, Texas, and Utah - have publicly announced their intentions to file the legislation.

And of course you have the MICHIGAN conservative media pushing at the same ALEC generated messages at the same time, one example from the Detroit / Mackinac News "Michigan should consider dismantling ObamaCare" January 18, 2011:

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has just released The State Legislators Guide to Repealing ObamaCare which offers legislators plenty of options for defunding ObamaCare, drawing attention to its harmful effects, and otherwise working to undo the increasing rate of "governmentizing" health care.

This piece was written by John R. LaPlante, an adjunct scholar for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and an education policy fellow with the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy in Wichita, Kansas.  The Mackinac Center and Center for Public Policy by the way are the Heritage Foundation (ALEC’s mother ship) de facto subsidiaries in Michigan and Kansas.

#######


SMOKING GUN in MICHIGAN #3 – while searching through some other investigations, we stumbled across this one goes back to Michigan HR 277 introduced back on May 5, 2010 by State Representative Tom McMillin.  

This time it’s an official ALEC press release lauding McMillin in his efforts on the very same day as the HR 277 was introduced:


Washington, D.C.—Today, State Rep. Tom McMillin of Michigan introduced a resolution (H.R. 277) urging his state’s governor to withdraw Michigan from continued participation in the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord (MGGRA), an agreement among the region’s governors to reduce greenhouse gases through a regional cap-and-trade program.

The Accord (MGGRA) has also been signed by governors in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa and Kansas and is designed to send a message to Washington lawmakers to move forward on a nationwide cap and trade program. The Accord would restrict energy use - the lifeblood of economic activity in these states - without any tangible benefit to the environment.  Michigan’s proposed resolution has drawn the applause of state legislators in nearby participating states who intend to introduce similar measures in their own legislatures.

The press release points to the ALEC "Regional Climate Initiative" part of their web site, this not a model legislation page, but you get the picture.  A little bit further down the trail we find this:

Michigan – Rep Tom McMillin (R – Oakland Township, Mich.) is finalizing resolution language with the Goldwater Institute for introduction of the bill.

The Goldwater Institute is another one of these conservative think tanks associated with the Heritage Foundation and ALEC (the AZ version of the Mackinac Center here in Michigan).  Hey, if they sat together and wrote “the language” that would be lobbying? Is that legal?  My, my isn’t this Karl Rove look-a-like busy?  He must be gunning for an ALEC Pioneer Award or something.

######

ALEC Investigations continue to spring up across the Blogosphere
Oh, but it does matter Mr McMillin…

The controversial American Legislative Exchange Council has become a political lighting rod across America ever since it was discovered the infamous billionaires the Koch Brothers were funding ALEC, subjects of a new documentary series by Glenn Greenwald, purported to be the source of many of the anti-collective bargaining and budget legislative including special language supporting the no-bid seizure of public assets in Republican Governor Scott Walker’s Wisconsin, center of multiple weeks of citizen protests.

ALEC gained national new coverage, when award winning history professor, Dr. William (Bill) Cronon posted a blog on ALEC, entitled “Who’s Really Behind Recent Republican Legislation in Wisconsin and Elsewhere? (Hint: It Didn’t Start Here)”, his first blog entry ever that has now gotten millions of hits.  Cronon’s blog was an outline and background on ALEC and its relationship to Wisconsin legislators in the Republican Party and new legislation targeting unions and a host of other issues, including the privatization of Wisconsin public assets.

Immediately following the posting of the informational blog about ALEC, the Wisconsin GOP requested all of Dr. Cronon’s email from his university account, apparently in an attempt to silence him and other ALEC/GOP critics.  Paul Krugman is one of the latest national figures to come out in defense of Cronon in his piece “American Thought Police” in the NYT, and calling for more investigation of the ‘shadowy’ ALEC and their “pushing hard-line conservative legislation at the state level”.

As stated before, Michigan's Heritage Foundation subsidary in Michigan in Midland, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy is using the same tactics at 3 Michigan Universities looking for emails of WHOLE departments.

Other Michigan Legislators and ALEC members that have been identified so far for introducing ALEC-based and/or inspired include State Senators Wayne Kuipers and Tom Casperson with a number of others just waiting to be compiled.  The fact is, ALEC content and activity is so pervasive in Michigan there is practically no Michigan ALEC member (See LIST) or issue that doesn’t have ALEC roots somewhere in the mix.

Another set of smoke outs is already complete, to the story continues… Who’s next?

NEXT TIME…


Many more SMOKING GUNS in MICHIGAN related to the current Michigan Budget battle. In the NEXT INSTALLMENT of this Nerd-Centric Politics of Rick Snyder Series Exclusive we will explore the activities and connections between ALEC and an array of Michigan based think tanks, conservative organizations, media outlets, and politicians involved the legislation surrounding the current battle over Rick Snyder’s Budget.  
Following the story of Michigan’s own native son, a graduate of Northwood University and now Director of Tax and Fiscal Policy, American Legislative Exchange Council, Jonathan Williams, the involvement and activities of ALEC in past and currently will be outlined in detail.

A clue.

See an EXTENSIVE investigation of ALEC and their activities in the State of Michigan HERE.

Originally posted to Hector Solon on Wed Mar 30, 2011 at 04:42 PM PDT.

Also republished by Michigan, My Michigan and Exposing ALEC.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks a lot for the update! (7+ / 0-)

    Very informative.

  •  In Minnesota (7+ / 0-)

    Our Republican legislators have also been busy on the healthcare front. Rep. Steve Gottwalt (R) has introduced HF 199 which he surprisingly calls the Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act. Sen. David Hann (R) has introduced SF 33 which he, lacking any creativity of his own, calls the Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act. Now what was that ALEC template bill called . . . oh yes, the Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act. No surprise there.

    I had the distinct displeasure of watching Sen. Hann defend his Omnibus Health and Human Services Bill on TV today. He and his fellow ALEC travellers waxed enthusiastic about the wonders of the majickal marketplace and the evils of the Federal Guvment poking its godless nose into the people's healthcare business. If he gets voted out of office he has a place at ALEC central waiting for him I'm sure.

    "These days man knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing." - Oscar Wilde

    by metiche on Wed Mar 30, 2011 at 05:41:33 PM PDT

    •  Have not run across... (4+ / 0-)

      ... as much activity in MN that we have in other States. Not saying it's not there, haven't been targeting MN. But not seeing the really evil stuff searching our folders on ALEC from our investigations.

      MN was part of the ALEC environmental campaign to pull out of regional climate agreements  though.

      •  The Problem with Minnesota (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Empower Ink, Jonny Cache

        is that darn DFL governor Dayton who has vowed to keep the Republican hordes in the Legislature in check. He told a modest rally at the Capitol that Minnesota is not Wisconsin because he was there. We can only hope.

        That comment from the NorthDecoder last night got me all exited about ALEC lobbyists in MN. But I was quickly able to determine that they aren't operating here as registered lobbyists. So you may be right that MN is just not that interesting to them at this time. I'm kind of disappointed.

        "These days man knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing." - Oscar Wilde

        by metiche on Wed Mar 30, 2011 at 06:05:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Don't worry... (5+ / 0-)

          ... MN chance will come, no doubt.

          But if we can blunt their effectiveness in a couple ALEC target states that will help others down the road.

          NorthDecoder trick is useful. Have you tried straight 'text string' searches through legislative support documents yet?

          Can you FIOA 'draft' documents in MN? The actual docs they use to type the bills up with? Try that.

          Hard way is looking at ALEC members one-by-one and what legislation they introduce and when. The timing and when they introduce can give up leads too.

          In Michigan we can't (nobody can is what I hear) see 'draft' materials submitted to the clerks typing things up. Other problem is that a Mackinac 'founder' (from way back) has been chair of one of our law review bodies for years. This guy actually 'trains' new legislators (from both parties) and is the FIRST person that they hear in their 'how to be a state legislator' course. More on that unbelievable situation later.

          •  The MN Government Data Practices Act (6+ / 0-)

            is the Act that categorizes government data into public, private, confidential, nonpublic and protected nonpublic .

            The State Revisor of Statutes takes proposals and crafts them into bills. The Government Data Practices Act places Prohibitions and Limitations on what the Revisors Office may reveal to the public.

            (a) They may not reveal to any person not employed by the revisor's office the content or nature of a request for drafting services. The content of the request and documents and communications relating to the drafting service supplied is not public and is not subject to subpoena, search warrant, deposition, writ of mandamus, interrogatory, or other disclosure.

            Under the Legislative Data section of the same law we find

            (b) Classifications. Legislative and budget proposals, including preliminary drafts, that are created, collected, or maintained by the state administration are protected nonpublic data. After the budget is presented to the legislature by the state administration, supporting data, including agency requests, are public data. Supporting data do not include preliminary drafts. The state administration may disclose any of the data within the state administration and to the public at any time if disclosure would aid the administration in considering and preparing its proposals.

            I'm interpreting this as making FOIA type requests for draft documents impossible. Like in Michigan.

            I've done a lot of searching so far but I'm not sure where the "legislative support documents" reside. This is a learning process for me.

            The public's awareness of ALEC is snowballing. Tonight I heard a caller on the local progressive radio station here bring up the subject. That's progress.

            "These days man knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing." - Oscar Wilde

            by metiche on Wed Mar 30, 2011 at 07:39:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Examples of support docs... (5+ / 0-)

              ... might be "Justifications" - case where people submit ALEC docs/reports/data arguing why a bill is necessary

              "Summaries" - sometimes the clerks describe where the idea and genesis of the bill concept comes from

              "Statements" that are for and against a bill - this is in committees or hearing, but sometimes the sneaky bastards just put ALEC reports in the record straight.

              In some states that have web pages with the bill drafts and all related documents as well, those are 'support' documents that can be of interest.

              Once you get a feel for ALEC language, it also gets easier to see their stuff right off a suspected bill.

              Michigan awareness in our Capital is very high, our corporate press is saying nothing.

            •  Why not... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Jonny Cache

              ... FOIA the dates and identities of those making requests?  Is that much FOIA-able?

              "Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing glove." P.G. Wodehouse

              by gsbadj on Thu Mar 31, 2011 at 09:45:29 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Kudos (9+ / 0-)

    to the citizens who were willing to confront this a**hole and not back down.

    We need this sort of thing at EVERY coffee hour, or constituent meeting, that GOP legislators appear at, or sponsor.

    Never separate the life you live from the words you speak. --Paul Wellstone

    by Cordelia Lear on Wed Mar 30, 2011 at 05:53:27 PM PDT

  •  Use FOIA Requests to Discover ALEC Memberships (7+ / 0-)

    In Michigan, the Teapublicorps are misusing FOIA requests to professors for emails referencing Rachel Maddow because she is exposing the Michigan governor's abuses of power.
    The Democrats and unions should be using FOIA requests to all state and federal legislators regarding their membership in ALEC and the details of each legislators' ALEC involvement.
    Here, we thought Citizens United was bad. ALEC is much worse. They are secretly lobbying state governments and directly and anonymously influencing the state legislators. I think it is a huge RICO conspiracy to attack unions and democracy itself.
    The DOJ could file a civil RICO against all of these states and request an injunction against these union busting laws. The DOJ could also file criminal charges. I'm not holding my breath.
    Private citizens could also file a RICO. We could expose the entire corporatist conspiracy to steal our state and federal governments. Maybe, Kucinich, Sherrod Brown, or Russ Feingold would stand behind such a massive lawsuit.
    In the meantime, we could file FOIA requests to the federal gov't and to every state about ALEC. This is the tip of the iceberg.

    •  Is just the tip... (6+ / 0-)

      ... of the ice berg.

      Thought that if we could load all the suspected ALEC laws and any models we could collect into a DB, run some anti-plagiarism software on new bills - like they use at Unis to screen student papers - this gives you a XX% match on content. This could narrow the searches and focus investigations. That way could do this on a mass scale using technology.

      Newt talked to ALEC (or was it his recent AEI speech? He made three strategy speeches in a row) that he wants to 'replace the left'.  

      What we are seeing, and ALEC is the execution arm of this SYSTEM, is the complete 'replacement of democratic processes' in this case the creation, development and introduction of LAW for corporate interests or rich people or whatever people what to call it. It ain't democracy and it ain't capitalism either.

    •  This won't work in Michigan (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hector Solon, gsbadj, Jonny Cache

      The last time I checked the Governor's office and offices of the state legislators are exempt from the provisions of the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.   This act covers state agencies and local government bodies, but not the governor's office or legislative offices.

  •  Federal Investigation of Cuyahoga County Gov't (4+ / 0-)

    The feds spent millions of dollars to investigate corruption in a single Democratic county in Ohio. Big surprise--they found corruption.
    The Teapublicans are so brazen that they aren't even trying to hide the wholesale implementation of their radical right wing agenda. It's not just a coincidence that these Repug governors are giving huge tax breaks to corporations and the rich while blaming state deficits on public employees and public employees' unions.
    I supported Obama for president and I don't think it's too much to expect that he use the power of the executive to investigate and prosecute RICO charges against Repug-controlled state gov'ts and their rich corporatist masters.
    At the very least, you'd think that the Dems would be mad that their corporatist masters have completely turned on them. They are clearly trying to destroy unions in order to kill the Dem party.

  •  I'm Sending Links to Family & Friends (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hector Solon, Oh Mary Oh, Jonny Cache

    One friend, in particular, who has lived in MI his whole life and is now down in Austin because he was down-sized, with three kids in college, one still at home.  It's hard to find a professional job in MI, or anywhere, when one is 60 yo.  Fortunately his wife is younger and got a better-paying job in a less costly area of the country.

    Great sleuthing!  Keep the heat on these privatizing-crazed Alec Koch representatives.    

  •  Tools (4+ / 0-)

    of fascism, these guys. Every one of them. And they're so ignorant, they don't even recognize that the easy platitudes they find so attractive can lead to misery, suffering and genocide.

  •  UPDATE: ALEC Issues Press Release... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    strack, Jonny Cache

    ... with the title" Setting the record Straight – Much ado about nothing"

    Analysis to follow... getting even more interesting.

    KEEP PLUGGING....

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