With all the national media attention on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) over these past several weeks, few realize that a campaign to lift the veil on ALEC's operations and agenda began almost one year ago. This week marks the anniversary of the first public rallies in opposition to ALEC. This is the story of the power of ordinary extraordinary individuals to stand up, speak out and make an enormous difference in defense of democracy.
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments challenging Arizona's SB 1070 immigration law. In 2009, this bill was pre-approved by legislators along with corporate lobbyists and special interest representatives at an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) task force before passing the Arizona legislature and being signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer, an ALEC alum. The National Rifle Association (NRA) was the private sector co-chair of ALEC's "Public Safety and Elections Task Force" when the bill was approved.
-- by Campaign Staff at ColorOfChange.org
Last week, ALEC acknowledged that it was reeling after its corporate sponsors -- some of which pay hundreds of thousands of dollars at times for membership in the right-wing group -- started dropping like flies. In a statement that sidestepped any admission of wrongdoing for pushing voter suppression and Stand Your Ground/Shoot First bills nationwide, ALEC announced, "We are eliminating the ALEC Public Safety and Elections task force that dealt with non-economic issues, and reinvesting these resources in the task forces that focus on the economy."
The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) is pleased to have an article chosen as a final entry in the 82nd Annual Milwaukee Press Club Awards (MPC) for Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism. The finalists will be announced at MPC's May 18th Gridiron Awards Dinner at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. The article "Group Called 'Citizens for a Strong America' Operates out of a UPS Mail Drop but Runs Expensive Ads in Supreme Court Race?" written by Lisa Graves, CMD's Executive Director, was nominated in the category of Best Investigative Story or Series. The article illustrates how the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity group propagates shell organizations, like "Citizens for a Strong America" to meddle in Wisconsin politics, in this instance in the 2011 race between Joanne Kloppenburg and Justice David Prosser. CMD's work was featured on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow show.
As Procter and Gamble became the 13th major American firm to announce that it was dropping its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a few corporations have publicly confirmed their loyalty to the controversial organization. Johnson & Johnson is one of the companies that has so far stood by ALEC, despite ALEC's role in pushing "model" laws that make it harder for Americans to vote and that advance the NRA's gun agenda.
Firm Tries to Distance itself from Extreme ALEC Agenda
Instead of quitting, Johnson & Johnson prefers to try to distance itself from certain elements of the ALEC agenda, which may explain ALEC's PR move to dump its "Public Safety and Elections Task Force," where corporate lobbyists and elected officials voted behind closed doors on templates for changing gun and voting laws.
Representative Mark Pocan is a Democratic legislator from Wisconsin and a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). He joined the organization in order to get an insider's perspective on how the organization worked. He blogged about his experience at ALEC's 2011 meeting in New Orleans for the Progressive Magazine.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), an online activist group, announced that they will be putting pressure on the minority of Democrats who are members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to dump ALEC.
ALEC claims that they are a nonpartisan organization that is "bipartisan" like the National Conference of State Legislators, but ALEC's leadership is overwhelmingly Republican as is its membership, a fact conceded by ALEC scholar and Wall Street Journal editorial board member Stephen Moore in a recent interview. ALEC says it has 2,000 legislative members. The total number of Democratic legislators is unknown, but according to the PCCC, there are 26 states with Democratic lawmakers that belong to ALEC.
Online retail giant Amazon is being criticized for its relationship with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and accounts of its participation in ALEC illustrate how ALEC's corporate members and funders drive the ALEC agenda.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment on April 18 to the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012 (HR 4348) that would effectively pre-empt the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating coal ash, the waste from coal burning plants, as a hazardous waste. About 140 million tons of coal ash are produced by power plants in the United States each year. There are about 1,000 active coal ash storage sites across the country.
According to the EPA, the ash contains concentrations of arsenic, boron, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury and other metals, but the coal industry has claimed there is less mercury in the ash than in a fluorescent light bulb. However, the EPA found in 2010 that the cancer risk from arsenic near some unlined coal ash ponds was one in 50 -- 2,000 times the agency's regulatory goal. Additionally, researchers from the Environmental Integrity Project, Earthjustice, and Sierra Club have documented water contamination from coal ash sites in 186 locations. The new bill would strip the EPA's authority to regulate the ash and hand it over to the states.