The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices voted 3-2 today to subpoena the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for information about its provision of sophisticated campaign software to its legislative members. The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission last July alleging that ALEC’s gift of valuable voter management software, developed by Republican operatives and linked to the Republican National Committee’s voter database, constituted an illegal and unreported in-kind campaign contribution. CMD also filed an IRS whistleblower complaint against ALEC over the controversial program, valued at as much as $6 million per election cycle.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a pay-to-play network of conservative state lawmakers and business lobbyists that writes model legislation, claims that it no longer works on social policy. But videos of ALEC-led events, obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), tell a very different story. At the 40th anniversary meeting of the Council for National Policy (CNP) in May, ALEC leaders boasted about their extensive efforts to advance state legislation to severely restrict access to abortion and limit the rights of trans students, as well as voter suppression bills. CNP is a secretive network of far-right Christian political figures and donors that works behind the scenes to influence Washington. “We’ve had a history of working on other issues like gun rights and social issues and things like that, which has not ended well for ALEC,” said CEO Lisa Nelson at a “Saving American Through the States” action session at the group’s meeting.
While Trump is no longer in office, ALEC members still wearing their MAGA hats can participate in Trump-themed trainings such as, “Achieving and Using Political Power: How You Implement an America First Agenda,” and “Writing the History of the Future: Messaging Strategies to Reclaim States’ Power & American Exceptionalism.” The Annual Meeting kicked off on Monday with an “exclusive, invitation-only academy” for state lawmakers with the dark money voter suppression group the Honest Elections Project, where ALEC politicians were “to discuss the implementation of new election legislation” with three secretaries of state, among other “fun and educational” events, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reported.
Critical Race Theory (CRT), once a little-known academic concept, is now at the center of the national political discussion. CRT is discussed incessantly on Fox News. It is featured in campaign advertisements. And legislation banning it is advancing in statehouses around the country. This didn't happen on its own. Rather, there is a constellation of non-profit groups and media outlets that are systematically injecting CRT into our politics. In 2020, most people had never heard of CRT. In 2021, a chorus of voices on the right insists it is an existential threat to the country. A Popular Information investigation reveals that many of the entities behind the CRT panic share a common funding source: The Thomas W. Smith Foundation.
It was April 1, and Jestin Dupree had driven more than 400 miles from the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in northeastern Montana to the state’s capital, Helena, to testify against legislation that could be used to jail environmental protesters. For years, his tribe had been protesting the Keystone XL pipeline, which was to cross the Missouri River, their main source of water. Their efforts seemed to be vindicated when the project was cancelled by President Joe Biden during his first day in office. Montana’s new legislation, however, would allow environmental protesters to be jailed for up to 18 months if they obstruct operations at oil and gas facilities — and up to 30 years if they damage equipment. It seemed to be a direct rebuke to the Indigenous activism that had helped stop Keystone XL.
Shareholders have submitted a resolution calling on Dominion Energy to fully disclose its lobbying efforts. The resolution will be voted on Wednesday morning at Dominion’s annual meeting. When Dominion released a statement encouraging shareholders to oppose the resolution, the shareholders responded with a 12 page memo explaining why they should vote yes on Item #4 Dominion’s Report on Lobbying. The memo includes a deep dive into Dominion’s involvement with organizations associated with fraud, corruption and the recent rally before the insurrection attempt on January 6 at the US Capitol Building. From the memo: “Proponents believe Dominion’s trade associations’ activities are jeopardizing our Company’s reputation.
Documents obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) show that a powerful corporate lobby front group, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is playing a leading role in the right-wing movement to push for early reopening of the economy amidst the coronavirus pandemic that has cost the United States 61,680 lives to date. ALEC is a corporate pay-to-play operation where legislators and corporate lobbyists vote behind closed doors to adopt model legislation on a broad range of public policy issues. At a time when many hard-hit states and medical experts are lamenting the lack of federal leadership in dealing with the health crisis, the ALEC documents call for action to “bring the economy back to life through a free market approach that gets big government out of the way.”
By Jeff Schuhrke for In These Times. Missouri - In a badly needed victory for organized labor, a coalition of workers’ rights groups in Missouri is poised to halt a devastating new anti-union law from taking effect later this month. The deceptively named “right-to-work” (RTW) legislation—quickly passed and signed into law this February by Missouri’s new Republican governor, Eric Greitens—would prohibit unions in private sector workplaces from automatically collecting dues from the workers they are legally required to represent. Designed to decimate unions by cutting off their financial resources, RTW laws are currently in place in 27 other states. Though the law is set to take effect on August 28, the pro-union We Are Missouri coalition, led by the Missouri AFL-CIO, says it has collected enough signatures from voters to call for a state-wide referendum in November 2018 that could nullify the legislation.
By Alexandra Rosenmann for AlterNet - The ALEC meeting comes just a week after the education secretary's talks with men's rights activists. Hundreds of protesters descended on the Colorado Statehouse on Wednesday, one day ahead of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' speech at the annual American Legislative Exchange Council meeting in Denver. The meeting comes just a week after the education secretary's controversial talks on Title IX guidelines with so-called men's rights activists and other skeptics of the federal law that has consistently protected victims of campus sexual assault. “My primary concern is DeVos’ commitment to protecting sexual assault perpetrators and those accused of sexual assault,” University of Denver doctoral student Alicia Mountain told the Denver Post at the rally. Meanwhile, Suzanne Ethredge, president of the local teacher's union, remained wary of the secretary's long-term preference for school choice.
By Bruce Kushnick for The Huffington Post - But when the second Republican FCC Commissioner, Michael O’Rielly, speaks at ALEC’s (American Legislative Exchange Council) Communications & Technology Task Force and calls on the group to take actions to help the FCC take down Net Neutrality and the speech is listed as business as usual at the FCC—we know that the FCC is captured. (I note that in 2013 then-commissioner Pai spoke to the same ALEC group.) I just posted an article from 2013 that outlines how a Petition filed by AT&T, which was based on ‘model legislation’ created by ALEC, is now the game plan for the current FCC in 2017. The plan is to remove all regulations, all obligations and consumer protections so that the corporations can optimize profits. The FCC’s plans are couched in twisted word speech, calling for “Internet freedom” yet we find that it is just freedom for the large corporations, the large phone and cable companies – AT&T, Verizon, Centurylink and the cable companies, who are all members of ALEC, as far as we can tell. And it is clear that this FCC is just out of control. Talk about being biased, the FCC’s own press release and fact sheet called: “What Capitol Hill Is Saying About Restore Internet Freedom Proposal”
By Candace Clement for Free Press - AT&T is an enormous media, telecom and internet gatekeeper with a horrible track record of overcharging you, limiting your choices and spying on you. It’s still fighting Net Neutrality. It helps the government spy on people by turning over its customer records to the NSA. It tries to stop communities from building their own broadband networks.
By Steven Rosenfeld for AlterNet - Progressives dedicated to protecting safety nets for seniors have pressured AARP, formerly the American Association of Retired People, to drop its dues-paying membership at ALEC, the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council, whose work includes drafting and promoting bills that would undermine and privatize Social Security and Medicare. “After hearing from many of you, we’ve decided not to renew our membership to ALEC,” said a post on AARP’s Facebook page Friday.
By Bill Raden in Capital and Main - As lobbyists and state legislators gathered at San Diego’s Grand Hyatt resort last week for the three-day annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the delegates seemed to barely glance at the several dozen exhibitor tables that made up a sort of carnival sideshow of right-wing groups outside the hotel’s second-floor warren of meeting rooms. Convention attendees had more pressing concerns. Namely, turning this year’s corporate wish list into the infamous boilerplate bills known as “model laws” that would aspire to undermine things like health and environmental standards, worker rights, campaign-spending limits and implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) across the 50 states. Many of the exhibitor booths were occupied by familiar ALEC friends, such as the collection of extreme-right think tanks known as the State Policy Network, which churns out studies designed to grease the model laws’ passage out of statehouse committees.
By Nick Licata in PR Watch - There was one problem in finding out—ALEC is open only to state legislators or private-interest parties, i.e. corporations or business associations. Being neither, I wouldn’t be able to get into their conference. A break came last year when ALEC formed ACCE (the American City County Exchange) for city and county public officials. It was to take ALEC’s organizational approach of helping these elected representatives pass laws that could cut taxes, limit government and promote free markets (i.e. turn over government services and functions to businesses). I had assumed that this was a closed association, and that I would be required to take an oath or be screened and approved for admission. There have been Democratic state legislators who experienced difficulty in getting admitted into ALEC meetings. But in the end, they were admitted. Why?
By Bill Raden in Capital and Main - “The biggest scam of the last 100 years is global warming!” thundered Stephen Moore to ALEC’s plenary breakfast club this morning. “It’s no surprise that when you give these professors $10 billion, they’re going to find a problem.” Moore then singled out North Dakota for its regulatory-free attitudes toward the fracking industry: “I just have one message for you — drill, baby, drill!” The annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council began wrapping up business in San Diego Friday on this defiant note from Moore, a former Wall Street Journal writer. This newly hired Heritage Foundation economist is an apostle of completely eliminating state income taxes and has been in a running feud with liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, over Moore’s casual regard for accurate reporting.