This is a portion of an article originally posted at God’s Own Party on March 31, 2012.  The introduction by another person has been left out and some of the content changed.  These changes do not effect the total content, so if you are still with me still, read on…

If you were to go to the website Alec.org, you would find a benign site that tells you how the group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was founded to “advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty”.  They will tell you they do this through a “nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector, the federal government, and general public”.  Then they further tell you they are doing this for us by “developing policies that ensure the powers of government are derived from, and assigned to, first the People, then the States, and finally, the Federal Government”.  Further they will do this by “enlisting state legislators from all parties and members of the private sector who share ALEC’s mission”.  But wait, I thought this was for we the people but now they tell us only “we the people” who agree with their mission?  I wonder what else they are going to do for we the people?  Well, they tell us in a further statement: They will “conduct a policy making program that unites members of the public and private sectors in a dynamic partnership to support research, policy development, and dissemination activities”.  And according to them, if we trust them, “they will prepare the next generation of political leadership through educational programs that promote the principles of Jeffersonian democracy, which are necessary for a free society”.  That sure sounds like something we can all get behind, but not so fast.

I am sure that little part about agreeing with their mission is just an oversight, right?  I suppose if you were to peruse their site and not dig any further, you could walk away with that impression.  The problem comes into play IF you do dig further because what you will find out is that ultimately ALEC is looking after Corporations and not we the people, in any respect.  They dress it up to lull the public while in the background they work to ensure legislation is geared toward the benefit of Corporations alone and while  we may realize some crumbs they deign to throw at us, make no mistake they are in it to win it for themselves and their corporate masters alone.

A quick note for those of you new to this particular area of semi-secretive activity: the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt not-for-profit organization that bills itself as being the nation’s largest “bipartisan” public-private legislative partnership. As such, ALEC consists of more than 2,000 state lawmakers and more than 300 of the nation’s leading corporations, lobby firms and ‘think tanks.’  Some of those leading coporations are: Bayer, Glaxco,Smith.Kline, Centerpoint360, Exxon/Mobil, Phrma, Kraft Foods, Walmart and Koch Enterprises to name a few.  Of course it would be difficult to name them all here, but you get the general idea. To give you a good idea of the stealthness, watch Real Time with Bill Maher sometime.  You will see a gentleman from time to time named Stephen Moore on the show.  Bill introduces him as a senior economics writer for various publications, mainly the WSJ.  Never once does he say anything about Mr. Moore’s connection to ALEC.  I don’t know about you but it makes me question Bill Maher’s due diligence in investigating his guests’ backgrounds and HBO’s decision to hire someone who would portray this gentleman as just another economics scholar, never mentioning his seat on ALEC’s Board of Scholars.  But then again, perhaps that is intentional.

So you are probably wondering exactly what it is that ALEC does and I am ready to tell you.  ALEC has members in nearly every state of the union in Congress, State Legislatures, State Assemblies, Governorships, perhaps even in the White House either in the past or currently.  That is not to say our President is aware of it, just that it could happen.  It is hard to determine all the areas they cover but knowing these people are the ones determining legislation in your state and country is chilling enough.  You can email your representatives all you want expressing your views on a particular piece of legislation, if it is not in line with ALEC’s mission, your representative is not going to vote for it, especially if they are Republican.  So you can see where their mission, not your needs, comes into play because they and their corporate board members have the money, you do not.  You will also probably not be too surprised, at this point, to know most members belong to the Republican party.  I have found a few Democrats but not nearly enough to consider them truly “bi-partisan”.  Understanding that, you have another problem because who do you think they are going to favor in legislation and at the voting booth?  You guessed it, Republicans.

So what is some of the legislation they have sponsored and won?  Voter ID laws for one and in the mid-term elections of 2010 you could also guess they were behind the majority Tea Party and Republicans gaining control of the House of Representatives.  They knew if they won the house and local elections, they would gain the upper hand in re-districting and that is exactly what happened.  Remember the Koch brothers are members and it was the Koch brothers who bankrolled the “grassroots” Tea Party Patriots and by association their candidates.  I saw where a person referred to the Koch brothers as the Kochanostra and I happen to think that label is appropriate when you keep turning over the layers to see how much they try to influence laws, the environment and our elected offices.  Isn’t that what the Mafia did and isn’t some of that activity exactly what resulted in Rico charges against them?


The “Stand Your Ground Law” is another piece of legislation that was sponsored (always in the background) by ALEC. I am sure you have all heard about the tragedy that befell the Martin family in Florida.  In case you have not heard, the shooter(George Zimmerman) of Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old high school senior, is claiming he should be protected by Florida’s stand your ground law.  In short, he was a self imposed “neighborhood watchman”, who, despite being advised by 911not to follow a “person of interest” in his gated community, did so anyway.  An altercation occurred and George Zimmerman (the watchman) shot and killed Trayvon Martin claiming the young man accosted him as he was returning to his vehicle.  The “Stand Your Ground Law” protects citizens if they need to use deadly force in the process of defending themselves.  In short, it makes you or I a vigilante and it may be coming to a state near you thanks to ALEC.

But where does the encouragement of vigilante (in) justice fit into this picture? It is the same old story, the long-standing exploitation of public fears.  Republicans have done this again and again.  During the Bush administration they even had a color-coded chart to tell us exactly how afraid we should be, red was terrified and green meant to go out shopping.  It should come as no surprise that the NRA and ALEC have been allies for a long time as well.  Who benefits from lax gun laws?  The NRA and the manufacturers and retailers of weapons.

Many ALEC-drafted bills pursue standard conservative goals: union-busting, undermining environmental protection, tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy. ALEC seems, however, to have a special interest in privatization — that is, on turning the provision of public services, from schools to prisons, over to for-profit corporations. And some of the most prominent beneficiaries of privatization, such as the online education company K12 Inc., EdisonLearning and the prison operator Corrections Corporation of America, are, not surprisingly, very much involved with the organization.

What this tells us, is that ALEC’s claim to stand for limited government and free markets is misleading. To a large extent the organization seeks not limited government but privatized government, in which corporations get their profits from taxpayer dollars, dollars steered their way by friendly politicians. In short, ALEC isn’t so much about promoting free markets as it is about expanding crony capitalism.

And in case you were wondering, the kind of privatization ALEC promotes isn’t in the public interest; instead of success stories, there are a series of scandals. Private charter schools take tax money to operate and seldom show increased educational achievement.  In fact, EdisonLearning is being funded by the Florida Teacher’s Pension and the funding was done while Jeb Bush, as governor/trustee, agreed to use the funds to help Liberty Partners prop up the company which, in it’s history, has consistently lost money.  And like Bain Capitol, Liberty Partners is in the business of LBO’s.  If things go wrong again, they will file Bankruptcy once again and most in the Pension fund will never know.  These people, who love to stir up the Islamaphobia, have entrusted a man who is a devout Muslim to run some of these Charter Schools.  Now I do not have a problem with this as the evidence is very shady, but if these people and their followers realized that I just wonder how they would deal with it.  A friend of mine inadvertantly gave me the answer.  Of course they would blame it on President Obama, thank you Sally.  The link to the website is below.

There is one thing these people do not like and that is sunlight. Sunlight for those sunflowers above make them flourish, not so for these people in fact you put sunshine on their activities they will fight back.    Sunlight on their organizations means trouble for them, whenever sunlight is brought to bear they need to refute it, if serious enough.  You may have heard of a new organization called Americans Elect.  They have positioned themselves as a grassroots organization which I find hard to believe.  First of all they were funded with Wall Street assistance and they have hired a CEO from the CFR(Council for Foreign Relations).  How can a member of the CFR possibly understand the everyday problems of the 99%?  Second, they have positioned a member of ALEC on their rules board.  So a member of ALEC is going to judge and make decisions in the nominating and voting rules?  You just finished reading this piece, don’t you just wonder how that could possibly go wrong?  Would you question the motives of the people in both organizations?  If so, then tell the world.  Don’t be quiet about it, that is what they count on – our silence.

http://libertylinked.com/posts/9722/u-s-house-trying-to-stop/View.aspx

Obama to blame for Charter schools

http://alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed

ALEC Exposed

http://www.alec.org/

ALEC Official Site

 

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bito
Member

Two more bite the dust:
Two More Companies — Including Candymaker Mars, Inc. — Sever Ties With ALEC

The American Legislative Exchange Council, a right-wing corporate front group that helped passed “stand your ground” laws and voter suppression initiatives in states across the country, lost two more member companies. In an email sent to Color of Change, a progressive group organizing the petition against ALEC, Mars, Inc., the maker of M&M’s and Snickers, announced that they have “decided not to renew the ALEC membership in 2012.” Arizona’s largest energy company, Arizona Public Service, has severed ties with ALEC as well. Following pressure from progressives, a host of other companies announced they would no longer contribute to ALEC in the past two weeks, including Coca Cola, Pepsi Co, Intuit, Kraft, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wendy’s.

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/04/12/463893/mars-inc-severs-ties-alec/

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bito
Member

Seems they got “The Letter,” that they were next.

McDonald’s Now Claims To Have Ditched ALEC, Despite Recently Defending Its ALEC Membership

The fast food giant tells Mother Jones that it recently decided to cut ties with ALEC, the corporate-backed group that drafts pro-free-market legislation for state lawmakers around the country. “While [we] were a member of ALEC in 2011, we evaluate all professional memberships annually and made the business decision not to renew in 2012,” Ashlee Yingling, a McDonald’s spokeswoman, wrote in an email. Yingling didn’t mention any specific campaign or outside pressure as playing a role in the company’s decision to leave ALEC. . . .

[…]

McDonald’s sought to clarify its relationship with ALEC after a coalition of progressive groups with members in all 50 states, including Common Cause and Color of Change, announced plans on Tuesday to target McDonald’s for its ongoing membership in ALEC. Rashad Robinson, Color of Change’s executive director, said groups in the coalition were “flooding” McDonald’s, Johnson and Johnson, and State Farm with phone calls demanding they stop backing ALEC.

This is a weird and interesting part of their statement:

In a February 29 letter to Robinson, McDonald’s said that it remained a member of ALEC — although it disclaimed involvement with ALEC’s model Voter ID legislation which disenfranchises thousands of poor, minority and elderly voters.

Do members get to pick and choose what they support, but doesn’t paying dues to ALEC in effect mean they are backing them and all their endeavors?

Is this how it’s going to have to be done? One corporation at a time before all consumer corporations quit ALEC?

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/04/10/461856/mcdonalds-now-claims-to-have-ditched-alec-despite-recently-defending-its-alec-membership/

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kesmarn
Admin

When you look back at the way the public had to force the Susan G. Koman Foundation, the advertisers on Rush Limbaugh’s program, and now these ALEC backers to shape up, you have to wonder why major corporations are so resistant to even considering ethics in their business models, don’t you, b’ito?

Even if only for self-interested motives, you’d think they’d want to do something that remotely resembles the right thing. Without the public having to constantly hold their feet to the fire.

I know, I know. Dream on…. 🙁

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bito
Member

Like the joke says k’es about the world’s smallest book being “Business Ethics.”

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bito
Member

Gates Foundation Will Withdraw Support for ALEC Nonprofit

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation today became the latest backer to withdraw financial support for the American Legislative Exchange Council.

A foundation spokesman told Roll Call that it does not plan to make future grants to the conservative nonprofit, which has come under fire from progressive activists for its support of voter identification laws and other contentious measures.

[…]

“We have made a single grant, narrowly and specifically focused on providing information to ALEC-affiliated state legislators on teacher effectiveness and school finance,” said Chris Williams, the spokesman, noting that the foundation was never a dues-paying member. The foundation advocates for global health initiatives and efforts to reduce poverty.

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bito
Member

Intuit quits ALEC!

A stampede seems to be on the way as more and more groups break ties and dump ALEC. Intuit, Inc. (maker of Quicken and QuickBooks accounting software) told the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) that Intuit also decided not to renew its membership after it expired in 2011. That comment came from Bernie McKay, Vice President of Government Affairs. He gave this response when CMD identified that Intuit was no longer listed on the board and contacted the company. CMD began its effort to spotlight Intuit and other corporate funders and tie these corporations to the ALEC agenda when it launched ALECexposed.org in July 2011

Wal-Mart and Koch still want to suppress votes and take away your health care.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/04/06/1081256/-BREAKING-Intuit-Out-of-ALEC-Coke-Kraft-Pepsi-too-while-Koch-Stands-Ground

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bito
Member

Well lookee here, Sue!

Coke caves in face of Democratic boycott threat

Democratic officials Wednesday launched a two-pronged attack on states with new laws requiring identification before voting, the highlight being a call to boycott Coke, Walmart and others that back a leading organization pushing for voter ID laws.

Coke was quick to react to the political boycott threat, pulling support from the targeted group just five hours after it was called. Walmart said that support for a group does not mean it backs every decision by those groups.

At issue: Liberal claims that some states are trying to keep minority voters from the polls via voter ID laws, a suggestion conservatives call silly.

[…]

Officials from another party-backed group, Color of Change, kicked off a boycott of Coke and other financial backers of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which supports new voter ID laws. Other supporters include Walmart and Koch Industries. The boycott call started with a tweet (@CocaCola is helping undermine voting rights. Tell them to stop) and a webpage. The group also has tied the Council to the Trayvon Martin shooting case.

[….]

In caving into the economic threats, Coke told Secrets: “The Coca-Cola Company has elected to discontinue its membership with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Our involvement with ALEC was focused on efforts to oppose discriminatory food and beverage taxes, not on issues that have no direct bearing on our business. We have a long-standing policy of only taking positions on issues that impact our Company and industry.”

More>> http://washingtonexaminer.com/politics/washington-secrets/2012/04/coke-caves-face-democratic-boycott-threat/444346

OMG, can’t believe the ignorant comments, read at your own risk.

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SallyT
Member

Wow, now they are saying that Kraft Foods will not be renewing with ALEC. That is a BIG one! More to come, lets hope!

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19th
Member
19th

Great piece, Sue. I wish every voter in the U.S. could see it. I am currently working on a spreadsheet listing every single member in the U.S. House and the Senate from each state. My goal is to email it to everyone in my address book across the nation with hopes they will forward it to everyone they know. If a republican seat has Democratic challengers their names and candidate websites are listed too. I will not put any republican information on the spreadsheet tables. My thinking is if people want to support republicans they can do their own research. I am also learning the names of the Blue Dog Democrats in this search. I prefer them ousted as well.

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choicelady
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Hi 19th- Don’t belileve we’ve met. Welcome to the Planet!

My one caveat about ousting Blue Dogs is that, at least here in CA, we have found them very workable. It definitely requires a full court press from constituents, no doubt about that, but it CAN be done. During the health care debate, coalitions of more liberal/progressive people descended on district offices showing support for the plan, and every single Blue Dog wound up voting for it.

Blue Dogs do represent their constituents. There are parts of the nation that are just more conservative than we bi-coastal types, but there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that. What we more liberal people have to do is be present on small and large issues with those Blue Dogs and find ways to build relationships that matter to them.

The one thing that offsets the power of money is the power of votes. Unless AdLib’s HORRIFYING (joke) scenario April 1 were ever to come true where corporations could vote, that might be true, but at the moment the power of the vote is actually EQUAL to or surpasses the power of money. Well organized voices around issues can change all but the most craven Blue Dog. (I’m thinking Ben Nelson probably would never be anyone other than, well, Ben Nelson.) We in the liberal/progressive arena do not raise our voices often or well enough on most issues. We must.

Keeping a Blue Dog with whom we can work is critical to keeping power in each house of Congress (or states). That is what the radical right has done – we are not exempt from that. We cannot expel Blue Dogs just because we find them annoyingly too conservative especially if the opposition is worse – and it IS worse. In 2012 particularly, the regaining of both houses is CRITICAL to our survival as a democracy and nation of all people, not just the few. Targeting Blue Dogs now – especially if we’ve NOT done our homework in getting to talk with them well – is absolutely dangerous.

We cannot be “too good” to negotiate with those whose capacity to keep us moving forward simply by their presence in the party and thus the (we hope) majority. We cannot be “too good” to vote for them.

I am a lobbyist for a large non-profit that does social justice advocacy, so this advice comes from YEARS of experience. I’ll take a Blue Dog over any GOP any day of the week. It’s important.

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BourneID
Member

Hi CL. I didn’t know you’re a fellow Californian.

I know that HuffPost is not the most popular place on the planet, but I agree with you completely about keeping all the Dems we can to bring sanity back to the country.

I’m new here and at HuffPost as well, but I will not just walk away from an exchange with someone who clearly argues the GOP line. I’ve found a lot of success in inviting mutual fanning so we continue the discussion, which is important to all of us, and also adding that I find as much value in hs/her opinion as I find in mine. I’ve gained a few friends that way and have had some interesting conversations. I find the really conservative posters to be uninformed, rude, almost nasty and really quite insecure in how far they will take a discussion. I don’t want to behave like them.

Tuesday, I had a similar experienced an exchange involving mutual disagreement over the president and, after three posts, the person who is now a friend, wrote that it was a great experience having a discussion with a reasonable adult and that person’s goal is to try to do a better job explaining his/her views rather than leaving insulting comments. I think most people are willing to listen – not just hear – but listen. And I may not agree with a point of view, but I do understand we are all the product of our experiences, educations, jobs, friends..

I like your comments; thanks. I’m in Sacramento. You’re a lobbyist. Do you spend much time at the state legislature?

Bourne

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enigma2
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enigma2

19th are you still on?

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19th
Member
19th

Enigma2, my sincere apologies… we’re filling out and filing our tax forms today (I know, I know… last minute on my part) so it has been a little hectic around here. I will check through your comment history to see what I missed. I have been back and forth b/t home stuff, here, phone calls and the “other” place. Please email me with any updates. It was just an off day for me, yesterday. To the planet management, please pardon my OT. Won’t happen again.

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enigma2
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enigma2

No worries, I have your email information, i will get to you later today or more probably sometime later this evening..Don’t get too frazzled.

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choicelady
Member

19th – doing taxes excuses you from any and all other issues! No one can deal with that and be expected to be sane.

Good luck!

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enigma2
Member
enigma2

Aha, here you are, I see you made it, fantastic.

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bito
Member

Sue it amazing how much damage ALEC has done to democracy in the US while Dems were either asleep or bickering amongst ourselves. Thanks for keeping them exposed and for posting this article! They are stealth no longer due to the work you and others have done exposing them.

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KillgoreTrout
Member

Sue, I once heard it said that sunlight is the best disinfectant! 😉

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