Here is a video interview of Lisa Graves by Thom Hartmann on his program from July 20th.
Thom closes by saying, "I've got to figure out how to get a membership to this thing!"
At midnight last night, Bloomberg News published an article titled: "Koch, Exxon Mobil Among Corporations Helping Write State Laws." In the article journalist, Alison Fitzgerald provides and in-depth look at the financing of ALEC by the likes of Koch, ExxonMobil, Reynolds American, Inc and an arm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (does that come as a surprise to anyone?).
ALEC's Annual meeting is being held in New Orleans this year, and we have a huge protest planned to greet ALEC corporate and legislative members as the enter and leave the Marriott hotel adjacent to the French Quarter. For an idea on how this kind of event is set-up and paid for by this "non-profit" organization, let's take a look at what Bloomberg uncovered about last years Annual Meeting ALEC held in San Diego:
"At ALEC’s annual meeting in San Diego last year, three companies -- pharmaceutical manufacturer Allergan Inc., telephone giant AT&T Inc. (T) and cigarette maker Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) -- each paid $100,000 to be “President Level” sponsors. Another 11 groups, including Pfizer Inc. (PFE) and the Institute for Legal Reform, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce arm that advocates for jury award limits, wrote checks for $50,000, according to documents distributed at the meeting that were given to Bloomberg."Hmmm...$850,000.00 in corporate donations - just from the big boys. We have no idea how much was contributed by Koch Industries, Altria, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, PharMa, GlaxoSmithKline, and 250 other members contributed...They must have had one hell of a shindig out there in Sunny California while they held workshops developing the crop of Model Legislation that was intended to be disseminated throughout the nation, last year. Of course they also had training seminars to teach as many as 2,000 attending legislators about these proposed legislative measures, instructing them how to carry them back to their individual states and introduce them as proposed legislation to "benefit" their constituents. Of course we now know how well that worked out for them this year with implementation of legislation addressing: Right To Work, Voter ID, school vouchers, repeal of healthcare, deregulation of the EPA, ending collective bargaining, withdrawing from the Western Climate Initiative, privatization of state prisons, schools and utilities.
All of this "Model Legislation" was helped along in many states by Republican Governors, many former ALEC members themselves - like John Kasich in Ohio, Scott Walker in Wisconsin, LePage in Maine and Haley Barbour in Mississippi. From the paragraph above about last year's ALEC shindig in San Diego we begin to get a feel for the money involved in all of this "educating" provided by ALEC as a 501 (c)(3) exempt corporation.
In New Orleans next month, Fitzgerald provides some information on who is funding that meeting - as well as a few tidbits about previous contributions to these meetings from my favorite "Charitable" donors, Ol' Chucky and Davy Boy Koch and others:
"Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil, through its foundation, donated $30,000 in 2005 and again in 2006, according to the foundation’s tax forms. Alan Jeffers, an Exxon Mobil spokesman, said the company paid $39,000 in dues last year and sponsored a reception at the annual meeting in San Diego for $25,000. In August, Exxon will spend $45,000 to sponsor a workshop on natural gas, he said.
“We try to provide our views on legislation to anyone who will listen, including legislators and non-governmental organizations,” Jeffers said. He said Exxon supports a range of public policy groups including the Washington-based Center for Clean Air Policy.
Wichita, Kansas-based Koch was one of 14 “Vice Chairman” level sponsors at the 2010 annual meeting, which requires a $25,000 donation to the group, according to the documents. The Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, founded by the energy conglomerate’s chief executive officer, gave $75,858 to ALEC in 2009, the latest year for which the foundation’s tax information is available."
What is the incentive for these large corporations to make such substantial "donations" to ALEC? Reagan Weber, ALEC's PR spokesperson, says it's because they support ALEC's smaller government, free market philosophy, federalism and "good conservative policy." Wow, that's a lot of money to share in a collective philosophy, huh? This article provides some insight as to the real reason the likes of Koch, ExxonMobil, Reynolds American, Inc. and others are involved with ALEC in this cozy conservative shadow government.
The Republican speaker of the Virginia House, William Howell, received $2,862 in reimbursements after attending the San Diego ALEC meeting and a policy meeting in Washington last year, according to his state ethics disclosures. Under his leadership in Richmond this year, the state Assembly passed two ALEC bills opposing labor unions, one that requires union votes to be by secret ballot and another that would put the state’s “right to work” law in its constitution. Both measures died in the state Senate.
Howell also supported an ALEC-originated “Repeal Amendment,” which would enable states to repeal any federal law or regulation if two-thirds of the state legislatures vote to do so....just a little tit-for-tat, there. An even larger return came to the likes of Koch, ExxonMobil and BP in the form of the ALEC legislation sent out with their legislative members to all states regarding the withdrawal - state by state - from the Western Climate Initiative. So far 13 states have introduced this legislation with nearly identical wording and phrases. Fitzgerald informs:
"An Oregon effort to remove the state from the Western Climate Initiative, a regional carbon cap and trade program, offers a case study in how the ALEC alliances work together.We now get some insight what was happening inside the Hotel at the ALEC Spring Summit in Cincy while hundreds of us were protesting and marching outside the hotel. We were sweating in the sun while they sat inside in air-conditioned comfort, deciding our future fate as they wrote and adopted legislation that would allow more carbon emissions designed to make us sweat even more in New Orleans and beyond. This Model Legislation is but one of five they passed regarding climate control and 95 others that fall under the Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force..
"The eight-paragraph resolution, which was introduced in March, said “there has been no credible economic analysis of the costs associated with carbon reduction mandates” and “a tremendous amount of economic growth would be sacrificed for a reduction in carbon emissions that would have no appreciable impact on global concentrations of carbon dioxide.”
The model resolution was adopted by ALEC’s Natural Resources task force in April 2010, according to minutes from the meeting obtained by Bloomberg. Of the 13 states mentioned as having introduced this same model legislation, all have adopted the resolution.
The group drafting and endorsing it included 13 legislators from states including Texas, Kansas and Indiana and 21 private sector members representing companies such as Exxon Mobil, Koch Industries and BP Plc (BP/), and trade groups including American Electric Power, the American Petroleum Institute and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy."
Legislation with the exact language as the original resolution introduced in Oregon has now been introduced in dozens of other states, including Montana, New Hampshire, Washington, and New Mexico. Oregon's resolution is still pending.
How about the new Healthcare act? Florida filed suit against the US Department of Health and Human Services as soon as the Bill was signed into law by President Obama. Every Republican state signed onto that suit through their Attorney Generals. While this suit is being litigated (now under appeal) ALEC hasn't been sitting on their hands. ALEC drafted legislation banning states from enforcing the new federal health insurance coverage mandate last year and 10 states so far have enacted it.
The Bloomberg analysis and article informs:
"In Missouri, the bill was introduced by its state ALEC Chairwoman Jane Cunningham. The measure asked for a referendum to add language to the state’s constitution that read, in part, “A law or rule shall not compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system.”
In Louisiana, the “Health Care Freedom Act” language said: “relative to preserving the freedom of all citizens of Louisiana to provide for their own health care; to provide that no law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer or health care provider to participate in any health care system or health insurance plan.”
As we at Exposing ALEC have steadfastly complained and written for months, this legislation provided by ALEC is nothing more than cut-and-paste legislation designed to spread the wishes and desires of their corporate members throughout the United States. These legislative efforts in states across the nation containing exact wording demonstrates that cut-an-paste is precisely what is going on - one agenda by 300 corporations disseminated by 1/3 of all state lawmakers to individual states.
No matter what the constituents of Maine, Texas, Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, Louisiana, Washington, Montana and the 42 other states want - or need and no matter whether a particular state is being affected by smog, pollution, or object to use of energy from coal - the discussion is taken out of the hands of the public, as ALEC members in each particular state argue for such legislation. Those opposed within the General Assemblies, are then swayed by the money flowing in from the corporations, filling campaign coffers in exchange for support and votes. Though the public thinks they have a voice in this process through letters, phone calls and town halls, they're wrong. If ALEC's members and the corporate money prevail in garnering support from a majority of the state legislative members, it passes and becomes law upon signing by Republican Governors now holding office in 21 states.
The deck is further stacked against the public in that as Bloomberg reports, nothing leaves ALEC and goes on to be proposed as legislation in any state, unless the Corporations grant their approval:
"If the final language doesn’t turn out the way they like, industry representatives have the power to block it from being posted in ALEC’s online library where it can be downloaded by state lawmakers."
This assessment by Bloomberg is confirmed by The Nation's John Nichols in a report released today:
""But once they're in(corporations), they sit at the same table," he says. "On the board of ALEC, you have an equal number of legislators and corporate members. ... They then set up task forces to deal with topics like health care, education, election law and you have an equal number of legislators and corporate and/or interest groups [and] think tanks in each grouping. They have to agree on any model bill or model resolution.
"What that means, says Nichols, is that corporations can veto proposals and ideas that aren't to their liking — and can also propose measures that are then written into model bills. Those model bills, he says, are often introduced in multiple places — creating consistent messages across the country.
"In Tennessee, a [news]paper found a bill where the second half of it was verbatim from the ALEC model bill," says Nichols. "Now that's not always the case. The legislation will have variations on a theme — it won't always be verbatim. But the core concepts are there."
In simple, easy to understand terms, if a legislator - or group of them - suggest legislation to ALEC's task forces that would be beneficial to the public and/or a particular state and the corporations don't like it, or oppose it, the idea or proposal is tabled and the legislators are not allowed to present that legislation back in their states unless it is raised again and passes corporate (Private Enterprise Board) approval.
I'm going to close this for now as there is something I've found that may assist Common Cause in their pursuit of revoking ALEC's 501(c)(3) and need to follow up on what I've found...this could be a BIG development and blow all of ALEC's claims of not lobbying right out of the water! Stay tuned...
...Please help us turn out the numbers in New Orleans at our Protest. Visit Protestalec.org for housingor other assistance if you want to attend. They also have put up a "RideShare" link for those who would like to carpool to the event and back.
If you can't attend you can help those who are by clicking on donate at the Protest site and contribute.