With the secretive American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) set to descend on Dallas from July 30th to August 1st for its annual meeting, it’s the perfect time to take a look at one of the most powerful political forces most Americans have never heard of.
ALEC is basically a corporate front group that drafts conservative “model” legislation that Republican state legislatures adopt verbatim into law. From using voter ID laws to restrict voting rights, to relaxing consumer and environmental protections, to assaulting public-employee unions, to slashing retirees’ pensions, ALEC is at work across the country pushing an agenda that aims to maximize the profits of its corporate backers at the expense of workers, retirees, and the public at large. When the Koch brothers or executives at Exxon Mobil are looking to further their interests at the state level, they go through ALEC.
A former member of the group, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), describes ALEC as
a corporate-funded and dominated group that operates much like a dating service, only between legislators and special interests.
The model is pretty simple. ALEC uses corporate money to wine and dine politicians
and flies them out for all-expense-paid conferences where they connect directly with their corporate patrons. In closed-door meetings ALEC politicians and corporate representatives draft “model” legislation designed to protect moneyed interests. When ALEC politicians head back to their home states, they bring exact copies of these bills in tow, pass them off as their own, and push aggressively to turn them into law.
Beyond the free trips, free food, and free drinks, ALEC gives corrupt politicians a direct channel to corporate dollars. By connecting state legislators with some of the biggest corporations in the world, ALEC lets these politicians line up potential donors and scope out future employers.
As word about ALEC’s agenda has spread, Americans across the country have started to stand up and say “Enough is enough.”
When ALEC is in Dallas from July 30th to August 1st for its annual meeting, workers and retirees will be out in force to put a spotlight on the shadowy group. The Dallas-Fort Worth area chapters of the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans are working with North Texas Jobs with Justice and an anti-ALEC coalition to organize a number of upcoming events in order to draw attention to ALEC’s anti-retiree and anti-worker agenda, putting pressure on ALEC-linked politicians to cut ties with the corporate-backed organization.
Below is a clip of Gene Lantz, President of the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans, and Jim Rivers, Texas Alliance for Retired Americans board member/Fort Worth Chapter President, talking about ALEC's meeting in Dallas and why workers and retirees are fighting back against ALEC.
There are a number of ways to get involved:
Leading up to the start of ALEC’s conference on July 30th, there will be coalition meetings each Wednesday at 6:30 PM at 1408 N Washington Ave. Dallas, TX 75204.
On July 26th a teach-In will be held from 10am to noon at 1408 N Washington Ave. Dallas, TX 75204.
The main protest and rally will be on July 30th with the protest beginning at 11am at Community Brewery at 1530 Inspiration Dr. Dallas, TX 75207. A panel discussion is scheduled to follow from 2pm to 4pm. Jobs With Justice Texas put out a flyer with information about the day's activities.