Since ALEC hides in the shadows, wants to remain a background player, despite its huge influence, and its primary activity of writing corporate sponsored legislation to be introduced in 50 legislatures, usually to the detriment of the voters that the legislative members were elected to represent, I and many other Americans have decided that this secrecy must end.
This diary is the first of a series that all take the form of Action Diaries, and with some advice from fellow bloggers concerned about the ALEC onslaught of union busting, prison privatization, hostility to public education with legislation around the country intended to weaken teacher unions and the institution of Public Education itself throgh vouchers and charter schools, for profit schools, Voter ID Laws which are really Democratic Voter Suppression laws (passed in some states, introduced in at least 38 states), anti-environmental legislation, anti-regulation of all kinds of businesses, the list goes on, and the goals of this group are radical. This letter will also seek an answer to the question if the legislator in question is traveling to the August ALEC Annual Conference, whether they will be traveling at public expense, or if they are accepting an ALEC "scholarship" for the travel, what the perks are, and what they wish to exchange in consideration for the free travel and wining and dining, with hundreds of CEO's, Washington Lawyers, Lobbyists, and why they need outside help to solve your state's problems.
Since ALEC proposes Model Legislation, we are going to put the shoe on the other foot and propose Model Letters to state legislators of both parties with the goal of having hundreds of letters seeking disclosure of ALEC membership status and ALEC input into introduced legislation. The next in the series will include a Model Letter to the Editor, with a goal to have hundreds of LTE's seeking answers to why they do not report it when an ALEC piece of legislation has been introduced in our 50 legislatures, and to ask why the legislators are too lazy to write legislation themselves. We want to make it impossible for any newspaper or record in any city or state to ignore ALEC.
The next in the series will ask that all legislators of both parties introduce into the legislative record a notation any time ALEC or any outside organization has written the legislation.
I have some other subjects for Model Letters, and will entertain more ideas from readers. I appeal to Kossacks to show Republicans and Tea Partiers what a real grass roots campaign looks like. In the end, I would like to see tens of thousands of letters going out to every state legislator seeking to find out if they are ALEC members, if they plan to travel to ALEC events, if they are spending out tax money to get there, if they are traveling at someone else's expense, what the spending party expects in return for that investment and much more.
I want Americans who care about how their legislation is created to be a bee up ALEC's nose with a non-detachable stinger. ALEC must know that Americans are no longer passive to its existence, and its manipulation of our legislators.
ALEC claims over 2000 legislative members, and others have identified over 500 known funders (not all are current members). Here is a diary with some interesting lists.
My first Model Letter is to legislators who may or may not be ALEC members of both parties. For those of you who get positive responses, (legislator is an ALEC member), please send a Kos message to me, or comment this diary. There is a group of Kossaks who are compiling what we hope is a comprehensive database. Eventually we want to know who all the legislative members are, who the corporate funders are, and this is key, to get all of ALEC's Model Legislation and force full disclosure of the legislation and what interests benefit from ALEC legislation. We want absolute full disclosure of ALEC, and eventually we want to shut it down. How's that for Creative Destruction? We know if ALEC is weakened, another ALEC-like orgainization will replace it, but we want, from the start, the tools to expose and bring other like organizations to the light. As our president says, sunlight is the best disinfectant. Let's start to clean this mess up.
Honorable XXXXX XXXXXXX,
Office, District, Full address, City, State Zip
Dear Sen (or Rep) XXXXXXX,
It has come to my attention that there is an organization known as The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that has gained enormous power in American politics, specifically at the state level. This organization is known to work behind the scenes, will not disclose its rank and file membership, will not disclose its funders, and will not disclose the principal product of its work, which is Model Legislation. I see this as a dangerous practice because such failure to disclose who writes and sponsors legislation in our 50 state capitols is a serious breach of transparency which our laws and constitution demands of all legislators. Every voter in our state deserves to be advised of who is writing our laws, the interests behind the laws, and whether they favor special interests at the expense of the residents, voters and taxpayers of our state.
• My first question is; Are you a member of ALEC, yes or no?
• If Yes, when did you join?
• Have you ever sponsored, or co-sponsored legislation written or partially written by ALEC?
• Please identify all ALEC written legislation you have sponsored or co-sponsored.
• ALEC has a series of conferences and workshops throughout the year. The next event is the Annual Meeting which is to be held in New Orleans, LA August 3-6, 2011. Do you intend to attend this event?
• If you attend this event, will you be traveling at Taxpayer expense, Yes or No?
• If you will be traveling at ALEC expense, please identify how much this is costing ALEC for your travel, lodging, meals and other considerations (golf outings and the like).
• If you are not traveling to the New Orleans conference, do you intend to join via teleconference or video link?
• Please explain how legislation written by Washington DC Lawyers, Washington DC Lobbyists, and Corporate interests, some of which do not do business in our state, represents the interests of the residents, voters and Taxpayers of our state better than legislation written by our elected legislators.
• If you are a member of ALEC or any other organization which has a hand in writing the laws of our state, please verify that your listing in the legislative website correctly states this affiliation. Legislative transparency demands this. I want to know who is writing the laws of my state, and I want to know why outsiders think they know more about our problems than our elected representatives do.
In closing, I am very serious about wanting to know who is writing and influencing the legislation that is enacted in our state. Please respond seriously.
email if desired
Of course, it would be nice to know who to write to. In Ohio where I live you can find contact information for your Representative or Senator here:
Ohio House of Represenatives Contact Info, click on the legislator's name
Ohio Senate Contact Info, click on the Senator's picture for more info
House Republican Caucus
I hate to say it, but the Michigan Democratic website is difficult to navigate and if someone finds a good link, please put it in a comment and I will put it here.
WI Assembly Representatives
WI Senate contact info
I do not have time to research contacts for all 50 states, but if you can get the contact info for both houses in your state (except for Unicameral in Nebraska), I will update the diary later. When it is complete, you may choose to hotlist it as a resource. To find your state's legislators google "your state Legislature" and follow the links, please put links in your comments, I will compile them and do another diary with the links.
I have a volunteer who will put a pdf copy of the letter above on his website. I am looking for someone to volunteer to put a Word version up so that it is easier to click and get an easily editable file. PDF editors are fairly common now, and when my friend puts the link up on his website, I will update this diary.
Please consider joining the demonstrations for the ALEC Annual Meeting in New Orleans August 3-6. Let's show them that they can no longer hide. All the Republican presidential hopefuls will be there, our opportunity to shine the light on ALEC will never be bigger.
I would appreciate tweets, FB's and other dissemination in various media. The more the merrier. Thanks for reading.
Update 1: h/t to Bfealk for putting the letter up in pdf on The Rochester Citizen.
Update 2: MNDem999 provided a link to a Google Docs site where you can find an editable version of the letter. Letter link, Instructions follow:
Choose Download As
Choose Word – if you are using Microsoft word
Choose Text if using another program and do a copy and paste
Edit and Send
Update 3: I take great pride in having the first diary ever posted in the new Daily Kos Group titled Exposing ALEC. Here is a link to the Exposing ALEC blog., and I believe I added the first reference to the Tag "Open ALEC" h/t to ManFromMiddletown.
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