On February 29th, Occupy groups in over 70 cities will be targeting corporate members of the highly-influential American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is best described as a "bill mill" for corporate special interest legislation. Through ALEC, corporations vote behind closed doors with state legislators on changes to the law they desire that often directly benefit their bottom line. Along with right-wing legislators from across the country, corporations are given "a voice and a vote" on "model" bills to change the law in almost every area affecting people's rights. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces. They fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They have their own corporate governing board. They vote as equals with legislators to pre-approve legislation. Participating politicians then bring these bills home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing their origins in ALEC. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a "unique," "unparalleled" and "unmatched" organization. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door. This is not what democracy is supposed to look like.
In July 2010, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) made available over 800 ALEC "model bills" on our website ALECexposed.org. Included in the cache are bills taking away voter rights, worker rights, rights of citizens to seek compensation if injured or killed by products, rights of immigrants and more.
ALEC = a Symbol of Our Failed System
Occupy Portland, which put out the call for groups to target ALEC, recognizes the organization as a powerful symbol of the problems within our democracy. "The public is never informed that a group representing the most privileged people in America are drafting the legislation that disempowers the most vulnerable. The decisions affecting our communities should be made democratically, not through a corrupt system that hides the influence of the very corporations that benefit at our expense. ALEC is representative of a failed system in which profit and greed are dominant over everything else," said David Osborn of Occupy Portland.
From Picket Lines to Debutante Balls
The Occupy movement will engage in a series of non-violent civil disobedience actions in attempt to raise the level of scrutiny on corporate members of ALEC. Some of the actions planned include picket lines in California, marches in New York City and a mock debutante ball in Salt Lake City, not to mention a "rat purge" of the Wisconsin Capitol building. To learn more about actions planned for Wednesday visit www.ShutDownTheCorporations.org. Twitter updates can be found under the #F29 hashtag.