Seventeen bills introduced in the Arizona legislature in 2013 can be tied to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and every member of the Republican leadership in the state are current or recent ALEC members, according to a new report from the Center for Media and Democracy and its allies "ALEC in Arizona: The Voice Of Corporate Special Interests In The Halls Of Arizona's Legislature."
"ALEC is a secretive but powerful force in Arizona politics," said Lisa Graves, CMD's Executive Director. "This report exposes how corporations and Arizona legislators, have worked together to keep citizens in the dark about ALEC's extreme agenda."
"ALEC in Arizona" identifies seventeen bills introduced in the 2013 session that appear to reflect ALEC model legislation. These bills would defund Arizona's public school system (SB 1409 and HB 2617), eliminate collective bargaining rights (HB 2330), undermine the Affordable Care Act (HB 2588) and make it more difficult for Arizonans to sue corporations using class action lawsuits (SB 1452).
ALEC, the Goldwater Institute and Americans For Prosperity
The report documents how the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute, along with David Koch's Americans for Prosperity Arizona (AFP-Arizona), are working to support the ALEC agenda in Arizona. Both Goldwater and Americans for Prosperity are members of ALEC.
This session, six ALEC members, including Arizona state chair Debbie Lesko, co-sponsored HB 2588, which would undermine reforms from the Affordable Care Act. The language is nearly identical to the ALEC "Health Freedom Compact Act," which was sponsored as a 2011 ALEC bill by Goldwater's Nick Dranias. Goldwater then created a 2013 video ad opposing the creation of an Arizona health insurance exchange, while AFP-Arizona list blocking the expansion of Medicare under the Affordable Care Act as their number one legislative objective for Arizona in 2013.
Another bill that would prohibit public employees in Arizona from taking leave for union activity -- SB 1348 -- is a virtual carbon copy of the ALEC "Prohibition on Paid Union Activity (Release Time) by Public Employees Act," which was sponsored by Goldwater at the ALEC conference in North Carolina in 2012. AFP-Arizona list this issue as their number six legislative objective for 2013. At least ten ALEC legislators co-sponsored the bill. A recent report co-released by CMD and Arizona Working Families, investigated Goldwater's activities in more depth, examining their involvement within ALEC and their other lobbying activities.
Arizona Legislators Operate Secret Scholarship Scheme
Every member of the 2013 Arizona Republican leadership is listed as being a current or recent ALEC member, as are 27 other Arizona lawmakers. Despite ALEC's non-partisan claims, every one of the 35 identified members are Republican. After a high turnover election in November 2012, during which 13 ALEC members left the legislature, 26 freshman Arizona legislators took up their seats in January. As ALEC step up their legislator recruitment this month ahead of their spring conference in Oklahoma City from May 2-3, 2013, the number of Arizona ALEC members will likely increase even more, and as they are discovered we will make this information public on ALECExposed.org.
The report also details more than $200,000 worth of gifts paid to legislators through the Arizona ALEC "scholarship" fund, using money solicited by Arizona legislators from corporate lobbyists. By using ALEC as a conduit, the fund operates to hide the actual identity of the corporations who wrote the checks. Between 2006 and 2011, these corporations included Salt River Project ($30,000), University of Phoenix ($10,000), Freeport-McMoRan ($12,000) and Apollo Group/Insight Schools ($12,000).
Legislators documented as receiving awards include seven of the eight current Arizona Republican leadership. Between 2006-2011, Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin received $5,945.27 in gifts from the fund, Senate Whip Adam Driggs got $9,610.83 and ALEC Arizona chair Debbie Lesko received $6,149.76. The internal workings of the Arizona fund, as well as identical funds in other states, were explored in another recent report that CMD co-released in November 2012, titled "Buying Influence: How the American Legislative Exchange Council Uses Corporate-Funded "Scholarships" to Send Lawmakers on Trips with Corporate Lobbyists."
ALEC in Arizona was released today by CMD, Arizona Working Families, Progress Now Education, People For The American Way Foundation and Common Cause, at a press conference outside the Arizona State House. This is the third annual report on ALEC's influence in Arizona. Previous reports exposed the connections between ALEC and the controversial SB1070 anti-immigration law, as well as numerous other anti-worker and anti-environmental bills based on ALEC "model" bills.
Read the full Arizona report here.