ALEC and Westin/Starwood: Who is Your Hotel in Bed With While You're in Bed at Your Hotel?

Westin Kierland Resort in ScottsdaleTucson-based civil rights attorney Stacy Scheff believes that Westin Kierland may have violated federal constitutional law when they threw a journalist (and paid guest) out into the dead of night--due to the simple fact that the journalist evicted had written critically of (and was not liked by) the organization hosting a conference at the hotel. (A new story about these events is available here).

Timely Spoof Mocks Oil Drilling Front Group's New Ads

"Energy Citizens," a front group backed by the American Petroleum Institute (API), has launched a new national ad campaign in advance of the 2012 elections to try and make it sound like substantial public support exists for increased oil and gas drilling known as fracking. The print and TV ads, coordinated by the Edelman PR firm, are titled "I'm an Energy Voter." They feature supposedly average people looking into the camera and saying "I vote ...for American domestic energy" and promoting the industry's goals of opening up more land to drilling. The ads link increasing drilling to job creation, economic prosperity and national energy security.  (PRWatch has previously reported how, in fact, the increased fracking for "natural" methane gas has actually led to dramatically increased exporting of America's natural gas.)  The industry's ad also drives viewers to the website "Vote4Energy.org." The homepage of the website give no indication that Energy Citizens is a creation of the oil industry, as CMD has previously reported. API CEO Jack Gerard insists the effort is "not an ad campaign...It's a conversation with the American people." But when API put out a casting call to recruit volunteers to star in the commercial, a Greenpeace activist showed up. When he started to read his lines, he veered off-script and  decried the "lies and influence peddling" of the oil industry and he was quickly shown the door.


Indiana Workers Stand against the ALEC Agenda and the Anti-Labor Bill Called the "Right to Work" (for Less)

Thousands of Indiana workers rallied outside, and inside, their state capitol on Wednesday to speak out against Governor Mitch Daniels' renewed effort to force through so-called "right to work" legislation designed to undermine labor unions and workers' rights protected by collective bargaining.

Abramoff, Released from Prison, Rebrands Himself as Against Corruption

Jack AbramoffFormer Republican lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff, free after serving 43 months in federal prison on corruption charges, will now try and make a living off of his past. Abramoff was a highly  influential Washington, D.C. lobbyist who was found guilty in 2006 of bribing public officials and bilking his clients, the Choctaw Indian tribe of Mississippi, out of millions of dollars. He also overbilled his lobbying clients and pocketed the extra money. Abramoff, now 53 years old, broke and unemployed, has established a promotional website and plans to charge for giving talks about corruption in Washington with titles like "How Lobbysits Shape Your Industry" and "Can Congress be Fixed?" Abramoff is also making the rounds on talk shows like "Hannity," "60 Minutes," "The Early Show" and "Piers Morgan Tonight" in an attempt to rebrand himself as a whistleblower against corruption. He has a Facebook page and game app called "Congressional Jack," and a feature film in the works about his lobbying exploits. Abramoff needs to make money fast, since he must pay back over $40 million to the Indian tribe he was convicted of bilking. To assist his media endeavors, Abramoff hired PR specialist Janet Fallon of the Washington, D.C.-based PR firm PR Options to help organize his "redemption tour" and promote his new book, Capitol Punishment, about Washington politics. Prior to establishing PR Options, Fallon worked as media consultant at Weber Shandwick and for Pat Buchanan's 1992 presidential campaign.


ALEC Ties Bring Down British Defense Secretary, Threaten Prime Minister David Cameron

British Defense Secretary Liam Fox has stepped down in the midst of an escalating scandal tied to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The ALEC connections have led opposition party leaders and the British press to question whether British Prime Minister David Cameron has been "allowing a secret rightwing agenda to flourish at the heart of the Conservative party."

Gaming American Democracy: A Perfect Storm in Which Republicans Disenfranchise Voters While Giving Corporations Unchecked Powers

One of the most stunning results of the Republicans’ victory sweep in the midterm 2010 elections (which made Ohio Republican Congressman John Boehner Speaker of the House of Representatives, while the Democrats retained control of the Senate) was the GOP’s taking control of 19 state legislatures.

ALEC Tied to British Political Scandal

British Conservative Party defense secretary Liam Fox is in the midst of scandal that has grown deeper as ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are revealed. Pressure has been growing on Fox in recent weeks after having been caught in a lie about unethical dealings with his friend and former flatmate, and more ethical problems arising from the operation of a recently-dissolved, ALEC-connected "charity" Fox founded.

Koch Lobbyist is ALEC State Co-Chair for Wisconsin; Scholarships Raise Ethics Concerns

A lobbyist for Koch Industries and energy interests serves with a lobbyist for Pfizer pharmaceuticals as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) corporate co-chairs in Wisconsin, according to documents obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy at this year's ALEC Annual Meeting. For some, their fundraising for "scholarships" to benefit ALEC legislative members raises issues of legislative ethics.

CMD and The Nation Magazine Win the Sidney Award for Investigative Journalism

The Sidney Hillman Foundation logoThe Sidney Hillman Foundation selected the Center for Media and Democracy and The Nation magazine for its prestigious "Sidney Award" this month.  The award recognizes our investigative journalism exposing the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which the Foundation called "an obscure but powerful conservative group that brings state legislators and corporations together to write laws."

Profit Motive Underlies Outbreak of Immigration Bills

Immigrants for saleJuly 29 marked the one-year anniversary of Arizona's controversial immigration law, a year that has seen similar anti-immigrant bills emerge across the country. Thanks to the release of over 800 pieces of "model legislation" by the Center for Media and Democracy, we can now pinpoint the source of the outbreak to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a bill factory for legislation that benefits the bottom line of its corporate members. While it has been reported that more immigrants behind bars means more income for ALEC member Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), less discussed has been how immigrant detention benefits commercial bail-bond agencies, an industry represented in ALEC through the American Bail Coalition.


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