Wednesday, July 18, 2012


At least 26 states have "stand your ground" laws in place.  Almost as many have laws to reduce the rights of unionized public employees and unionized workers in general.  Others have followed Arizona's lead in passing draconian anti-immigration legislation including the infamous, " us your papers" provision.  Still others routinely pass legislation benefitting insurance and other companies to the detriment of their customers and even more are passing laws to limit or reduce who can vote in national elections, particularly minority voters.  Would it surprise you to discover all these laws and ideas emanate from a singular source?  Would you be shocked to learn one organization, researches, develops and writes model legislation which can then be introduced in states around the nation?  How amazed would you be to find out this organization is a creation of the Koch brothers, and corporate America, to institute their agenda of returning this country to the "Gilded Age" of weak government regulation, low to non-existent taxes for the rich, no labor movement and a dramatic gap between the rich 1% and everyone else?  For over 30 years this shadow organization has existed below the radar.  Most Americans have never heard of it.  Almost no one knew it was bribing lawmakers and facilitating contributions to their campaigns while doling out money to their wives and children.  The American Legislative Exchange Council, (ALEC), is the name of this corporate shill and it lives to do the bidding of regressives throughout the land.

     Some of you may have heard of ALEC in conjunction with the Treyvon Martin case in Florida.  Police sighted the state's "stand your ground" law as the reason they didn't arrest George Zimmerman for the shooting.  Stories emerged about how the National Rifle Association went to ALEC with an idea about a "castle" law.  ALEC researched and wrote the language and ALEC members, legislators in various states, then introduced the legislation.  Studies now show homicides have increased in states with stand your ground laws.  In some states, gang members use the law to avoid prosecution for killing rivals.  The law Wisconsin governor Scott Walker signed, giving him the authority to bust public employee unions, was written by ALEC.  ALEC is supported by dues from the biggest and most well known corporations in this country.  Most of them do not want you to know about ALEC or their involvement.  When a number of grass roots groups revealed which corporations supported ALEC, a number, including Coca Cola and Kraft, cut their ties.  Pressure must increase from you, their customers, to force every corporation to cut off their associations with ALEC completely.  Every piece of legislation ALEC champions is designed to benefit corporate America and dilute the rights and power of middle class Americans.

     Developing, researching and writing anti-regulation, anti-immigrant, pro-gun legislation might be bad enough, but ALEC goes further.  ALEC designed itself as a way for corporate America to secretly contribute millions of dollars in bribes to elected officials.  ALEC has what it calls a "scholarship" fund.  This is used to fly legislators to posh resorts, pay for their lodging and expenses, allow them to bring their wives and children and even pays for the child care while the "conference" is going on.  In Ohio, ALEC provided prime baseball tickets, along with food and beverages, to legislators and organized them to meet lobbyists at the game or in other venues.  Corporations and lobbyists can contribute to the scholarship fund and then submit a list of legislators they wish to meet and contact.  Since ALEC is a non-profit organization, these contributions are tax deductible, and possibly anonymous, so in reality you the taxpayer are subsidizing this regressive, secretive, stealth group's attempts to undermine your rights and make your communities more dangerous.

     ALEC is an acknowledgement by the Koch brothers and others they can't get enough of their agenda through Washington.  It is a designed strategy to buy off regressive legislators in 50 states and pass, piecemeal, what they cannot get enshrined in federal law.  It is an example of Newt Gingrich's "new federalism" where the rich and powerful do an end-run around Washington to push their radical plan on a state-by-state basis.  It's brilliant in its design and execution and for over 30 years it has been able to chip away at the social safety net, water down civil liberties and advance the regressive cause without anyone noticing.  Belonging to ALEC was a no brainer for corporate America.  It has no down side.

     It's time for this to change.  It's time for membership in ALEC to be too costly to corporations.  It's time for you, the consumer, to let them know they will pay a price if they continue to support ALEC.  It is also time for the I.R.S., and individual states, to investigate ALEC and its "scholarship" fund and other ways it passes on corporate contributions to sympathetic legislators.  Calls for investigations are starting in Ohio and other states.  More are necessary to stop op them from gaming the system anymore.

     You can't say you don't know about ALEC now.  You can't ignore them any longer.  They mean to do you harm if you work for a living, care about civil liberties, and believe bribing of public officials is corrupt and wrong.  Google ALEC.  Find out what they are up to.  Fight back and let corporate America know the free lunch is over.  Doing nothing will finally hit you when you get pulled over and told to produce your "papers" or you pay is cut or someone is shot and "stand your ground" is invoked.... by then it will be too late.

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