As most Progressives are now aware there has been a huge development this week concerning the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). On Monday In These Times (ITT) published an in-depth and well written article by Beau Hodai on ALEC - "Publicopoly Exposed". There were links provided by Hodai to some of the Model Legislation ALEC had developed over the years.
While readers were still devouring this expose, The Nation announced a full court media blitz upon ALEC on Wednesday with a series of articles by their top political journalists such as John Nichols, their Washington Correspondent. A simultaneous announcement from the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) that they had launched an "ALEC Exposed" site consisting of research, facts, articles and links to The Nation's ALEC articles, various other sites and materials all about ALEC. The announcement provided that the site was dedicated for the use by professional journalists, progressive writers, bloggers and every citizen interested in democracy. CMD sponsored a webinar for journalists and those who were already involved in the articles and document dump as their ALEC Exposed site when active. On Thursday's show, Ed Schultz had Lisa Graves from CMD and John Nichols of The Nation on and talked at length about ALEC and their Model legislation (no video file available yet). Yesterday DBA Press released: “Legislative Laundry:” Investigative report on the mechanics of the ALEC scholarship fund" and hundreds of articles were similarly spun off into the WebSphere from all of the above.
At the core of the "ALEC Exposed" site is a section filled entirely with more than 800 of ALEC's Model Legislation, mostly with innocuous sounding titles, described as "Acts" and "Resolutions" and bearing "copyright by ALEC" somewhere within each document. What most are unaware of is that members of "Exposing ALEC" - formed right here on Daily Kos - were responsible for acquisition of the complete ALEC Model Legislation library.
For reasons of security and concerns about push-back from ALEC and their members, the name of the two groups involved - Exposing ALEC and Protest Alec.org - were not released or mentioned prominently in the articles. The Nation and CMD referred to their acquisition of the documents as having come from a whistleblower through "an Activist Group." In this situation - as in most instances involving the release of high profile and damaging materials showing corruption - the name(s) of whistleblowers need to be kept secret when the information they provided becomes public. Because of this necessary protective need, the names of everyone involved in acquisition of the ALEC materials has been kept low profile in the news.
What I can say, without identifying any one person, is that great courage was shown by the whistleblower that contacted one of our protesters (A Kossack) in Cincy with a willingness to turn over everything to those of us marching and trying to bring ALEC into the light of day. The whistleblower saw the speeches, a march and "Teach-Ins" where anyone could stop by and learn about ALEC and their impact upon our democracy and specifically manipulation of the laws implemented there in Ohio and elsewhere. I'm told by a source that once others were seen to be speaking out and trying to stop this madness of boilerplate legislation to advance ideology, the decision was made to step up and help us save democracy...and the wealth of documents were the outcome.
Rumors abounded since the Cincy rally about these important documents from ALEC and whether they existed or not. We now know they did but were kept under wraps while stories were written, the documents studied one by one by media and political experts, looking and comparing these legislative documents from ALEC against current and past state proposed legislation and actual laws that have been passed in states such as Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, Michigan and Indiana.
The comparisons revealed that much of the anti-union and voter disenfranchisement legislation ongoing now in many states tracks back to ALEC and their corporate members. In addition research found many corporate funded or linked outfits like Heritage Foundation, CATO Institute, Heartland Institute and their founders or funders of those entities like Charles and David Koch are also members of ALEC and their representatives hold seats upon ALEC's Private Enterprise Board.
As most know, I have been working on issues involving prison industries, exploitation of prison labor, privatization and immigration legislation for more than 8 years now and counting. Once I discovered the money trail on exploitation of prisoner's labor led to and then through ALEC, I began to crunch my research, expanding it from the limited scope of prison related issues and looking at the wide assortment of other issues ALEC was also involved in. When I had a firm grasp of what was going on and how insidious this "organization" is, I began trying to expose them to the public through my website, a blog on Blogger and couldn't generate the interest I wanted on these important issues. I contacted Maddow, Olbermann AG Holder, President Obama and wrote and sent in an article to The Nation. None of these efforts paid off, no one it seemed knew about ALEC, their involvement in increasing prison populations, or issuing their Model legislation state by state to allow corporate members and affiliated companies access to those prisoners as a slave labor workforce.
So I brought the issues here to DK back in November of last year in the first segment of my Corporatocracyseries. I immediately began to receive questions from other Kossacks about these corporations and ALEC. Since that day I posted no less than 83 subsequent diaries on these issues and most of them referred to ALEC and their activities involving prison issues. I was not the first to raise the flag of warning about ALEC, there have been others. The first ALEC "tag" was in 2006, though they weren't mentioned in the diary. In the 4 years between that original use of the ALEC tag here at DK and my first use of it in Corporatocracy, there were a total of 9 other uses of the tag. Today I checked and the count for ALEC tags on DK now stands at 483! This is not my trying to be egotistical, rather pointing out - as you'll see below - the power of Daily Kos when Progressives pay attention to important issues and begin to spread the word across the vast internet. I had been writing and blowing whistles, horns, throwing rocks at my Representative and others every chance I got from 2003 through my first posting to DK in 2010 mentioned above. Seven years passed as ALEC continued to eat away at our democracy from the inside, unnoticed and without challenge or question as state by state enacted their corporate friendly legislation.
Once the word - and call for attention to and help on exposing ALEC - came to DK last year Kossacks reacted! You came together and analyzed the issues and problems. We looked for ways to spread the word about their existence, their agenda, their ideology, their members, their Model bills and in general every aspect of ALEC was put under a microscope by one Kossack or another. All the time this analysis was going on more and more came together and began lending their insight and assistance, helping dissect ALEC and how to stop them, while we looked we kept writing and waving to others to come and take a look at what we'd found...urging them to take part and write about them also and help spread the word. MNDem999 put hours into compiling a list of corporations, legislative members - past and present - alumni and other information about ALEC and posted it here for others to use as a reference.
In my diaries in March I began asking others in the comment section if they thought a protest against ALEC at their Spring Summit in Cincy was a good idea. Many Kossacks responded with responses of "Hell yes!" and "I'll be there!" and before I knew it others joined their voices to ours and by the end of March students and others in Ohio put their time and effort into organizing and the thought grew into reality as more and more joined us and agreed to come to Cincyfrom other states and take part in "Exposing ALEC". One of the Organizers (and possibly more) ManfromMiddletown put together a group here on DK with that title and on April 29th all of us involved here at DK and union members, students from Ohio, Indiana, Louisiana and possibly more showed up. A Huff Post documentary producer sent a cameraman down to interview activists, film the march, teach-ins and Rally on the Square. Many from all walks of life, social and work classes attended and helped us make the rally a success.
April 29th, 2011 is going to have to be a date that will be remembered as an historic event - not only for it being the first public acknowledgment of ALEC's existence and open protest against them - but because though it was the first protest...it also produced the environment that allowed the whistleblower to come forward, hand extended - with all of ALEC's secret materials handed over! So it was not simply the first protest - historic enough - it was the beginning of the end for ALEC.
This week another truly historic event in the history of American politics, that will be remembered as a part of American history occurred with the release of the full "menu" of right wing ideology and agenda to the public. This historic release providing us a look into the dark recesses of a corrupt right wing organization with an agenda of despoiling legislation as we know it, will probably be written and heretofore referred to as "ALEC-gate" in future conversations and publications.
This past week and the eruption of material being released, the viral spread of that information across the country by progressives and others of different political affiliations, has kept myself and most of the Exposing ALEC Group busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest (and you know who that ass belongs to) so this is the first opportunity I've had to report about the events since Cincy and upon the ALEC Exposed site set up by CMD and The Nation. There is so much more news, but much of it still is being kept under wraps for the time being. This is not going to be a one-time flash upon the political landscape that draws attention which wanes as the brightness dissipates...this is going to stay in the headlines possibly through the 2012 election. It has to when we realize that two of the Republican candidates in that election for President of the United States are affiliated with ALEC. Newt Gingrich is an ALEC Alumni and Herman Caine a bobble-headed lackey who has spoken on behalf of ALEC and at some of their event activities - and proudly uploaded by ALEC to YouTube (if you have the stomach to watch them, they're available there). So not only is ALEC deeply involved in thoroughly corrupting the General Assemblies of each and every state in the country, they have two of their most powerful Alumni sitting at the head of the U.S. House of Representatives. Republican Majority Leader, Eric Cantor (you know, the one who stands to make tens of millions of dollars if the American economy collapses by his investment in betting that will happen) and House Speaker, John Boehner who continues to refuse to budge on repealing any tax loopholes for the rich.
I have to put that into proper context so everyone understands how important it is to abolish this cabal now that it has been exposed: 2,000 plus Legislators - fully one third of all U.S. state lawmakers - are members of ALEC. The top Republicans in our U.S. Congress are Alumni of ALEC and two of the Presidential Republican Candidates are either ALEC Alum or are closely affiliated with ALEC. To me this demonstrates that ALEC and the corporate elite see themselves on the cusp of realizing total control of the White House, U.S. Congress and control of a majority of state General Assemblies and state Governorship. This is simply too damn important to downplay or ignore and pass of as not possible, as Gingrich and Caine don't have a chance of winning. My answer to those with that attitude is that in every national election cycle the front runners going into the primaries are usually not those who come out as a clear winner. If Gingrich or Caine manage to prevail at that level...ALEC will be only one step away from realizing their dream. Just think about that for a moment as you read through the vast documents at ALEC Exposed.
We at Exposing ALEC and other Kossacks have done our part and will continue to work overtime to put an end to ALEC and their aspirations to control us and our country. Now we need you to step-up and lend us your voice and and assistance. Spread the word and keep doing so, until the MSM is forced to pick this up and report on it, join us in New Orleans or donate to the Protest Alec event we're holding on August 5th in New Orleans. Many of us are traveling down there and will need housing, travel and other assistance with organizing, permits, posters, protest signs, handouts and much more. We are going up against the most powerful and influential in this country and we're doing it on a shoestring against those with Koch money and influence behind them. Help us make our voices and message as loud as theirs. There is a "Donate" button right there on the right at the Protest webpage...please click on it and help us stop this vile feces in their tracks - once and for all.
Stay tuned for further updates and again accept my apologies for keeping a couple of hundred followers hanging without a diary for so long. As this diary indicates, we have all been very, very busy on making this happen and working toward the August Protest. There is more news available, but simply no time or security issues prevent it from being put out here. Just stay with us as this moves along and I promise, the prison issues on imprisonment, prison labor and privatization that led me to ALEC and the exposure of ALEC this week is in the works and you'll be able to read about it soon in a national forum.
4:27 PM PT: Here is a link to the Ed Schultz segment on ALEC, provided by shantysue. Kudos:
Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
8:17 PM PT: You know since this has become public ALEC continues to say they take no part in state or national legislation. You have to see this video about ALEC's proposed Healthcare initiative legislation in CO: