On New Year's weekend in 2011, many Wisconsinites were focused on the Badgers' return to the Rose Bowl or whether the Green Bay Packers would beat the Detroit Lions and get another shot to win the Super Bowl, but the incoming administration of Governor Scott Walker had other, bigger contests on its agenda. In mid-winter, while many in the state were worried about who would win or lose the big games, Walker's team was preparing to change state law in numerous ways, including making it easier for corporations to win big cases and limit the damages paid if their products or practices kill or injure people in Wisconsin.
Now you can swap out that GE lightbulb, Western Union $100 to the old country, continue that cell phone contract with Sprint, protect your computer from that nasty virus, smother that hot dog with French's mustard, and pay the electric bill in New Orleans, all without indirectly supporting the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Imagine a retreat at a swank Wisconsin resort, where elected officials are wined and dined by corporate lobbyists, have their travel and accommodations paid, have activities for their families and their child-care subsidized, and are given tickets to major league ball games and elite parties by corporate lobbyists with business before the legislature.
Wisconsin's Republican Attorney General is fighting to get vote-suppressing laws in place for the November election, asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to reinstate the voter ID law that has been found unconstitutional by two separate state judges, despite that Court rejecting a similar request in recent months.
Florida Governor Rick Scott is spending taxpayer money defending a law conceived by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and proposed for ratification by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that would prohibit doctors from asking their patients about gun ownership. Though the law has been blocked by a federal court, it appeared set to follow the path to becoming an ALEC "model bill" paved by the infamous "Stand Your Ground" law, which was initially cited by law enforcement to protect Trayvon Martin's killer in Florida.
A right-wing group that pledged to "continue the excellent work of the American Legislative Exchange Council" (ALEC) and promote voter ID has published a thinly-sourced blog post that purports to show people of color and the poor are actually helped by voter ID laws, an unsupported claim that is being hyped as a "study" by outlets like Fox News and the Daily Caller. More comprehensive research has demonstrated that these laws threaten to disenfranchise around 5 million people nationally, primarily people of color, students, and the poor.
The week the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was in Salt Lake City for its 39th annual meeting, award winning cartoonist Pat Bagley produced this gem in Utah's largest newspaper, The Salt Lake Tribune. The cartoon "A Legislator Walks Into a Bar" aptly characterizes the relationship between legislators, mega-corporations, and ALEC. State Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) has put it bit more gently describing ALEC as a "dating service" for politicians and corporations.