In late July, shortly after the launch of ALECexposed.org, Lousiana State Rep.Noble Ellington, a Republican from the state's 20th district and the national chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council, spoke to NPR about the recent spate of criticism leveled at his organization. When discussing the behind-closed-doors process used to craft ALEC model legislation, Ellington dismissed concerns raised by NPR, assuring interviewer Terry Gross that the public "have an opportunity to talk to their legislators about the legislation -- so I don't see how you can get more transparent than that."
On Wednesday morning, a group of Americans from across the political spectrum, and the country, held a press conference in New Orleans to highlight the devastating impact of the "model" legislation voted on by corporations through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
The event, hosted by People for the American Way and moderated by Center for Media and Democracy Executive Director Lisa Graves, was held directly across the street from ALEC's 38th annual meeting, where corporate lobbyists and state legislators gathered to attend Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindall's PhRMA-sponsored keynote address.
As suburbs engulfed the rural landscape in the boom following World War II, many family farmers found themselves with new neighbors who were annoyed by the sound of crowing roosters, the smell of animal manure, or the rumble of farming equipment. In defense of family farming, Massachusetts passed the first "Right to Farm" law in 1979, to protect these farmers against their new suburban neighbors filing illegitimate nuisance lawsuits against them when, in fact, the farms were there first. Since then, every state has passed some kind of protection for family farms, which are pillars of our communities and the backbone of a sensible system of sustainable agriculture.
The Center for Media and Democracy's reporter Eric Carlson flew down to New Orleans to cover the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) annual meeting. After hearing from ALEC Board member and Ohio State Senator Bill Seitz that "there is nothing secret about it [ALEC]," Carlson was eager to attend ALEC workshops and interview state legislators about their priorities.
However, Carlson was denied press credentials by ALEC and then kicked out by security as he sat writing on his computer in the Marriott lobby. Marriott denies that it was their security personnel and speculates that it could have been private security hired by ALEC.
On August 3, the American Legislative Exchange Council kicks off its annual meeting in the Big Easy. State legislators from across the country will arrive in New Orleans to be wined and dined by corporate lobbyists. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, for example, has invited legislators to a big smoke at its cigar reception on Bourbon Street. But the meeting is not all fun and games. Legislators will be sitting down with some of the biggest corporations in the world -- Koch Industries, Bayer, Kraft, Coca-Cola, State Farm, AT&T, WalMart, Philip Morris and more -- behind closed doors. There, they approve one-size-fits-all changes to the law that ALEC legislators take home and introduce as their own brilliant policy innovations.
(Editor's note: The Center is deeply grateful for all the research into ALEC politicians underway, especially by Daily KOS bloggers, and we are offering the tips today in light of the many questions people have asked about how to help with this research.) The Center for Media and Democracy recently unveiled a trove of "model" bills voted on behind closed doors by corporations and politicians through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Many of these bills and provisions have been introduced in state houses across the country without any mention of the ALEC connection and have become legally binding. In addition to the analysis of the more than 800 pieces legislation on "ALECexposed," CMD released a list of lawmakers from across the U.S. who serve as ALEC "Chairmen" in each state.
When the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) gathers in New Orleans for its annual meeting at the end of the summer, it will have some company.
A peaceful demonstration has been planned to coincide with ALEC's 38th annual meeting, which is scheduled to be held August 3-6 at the Marriott New Orleans. According to the "Protest ALEC" website (which is not affiliated with CMD), advocates will hold a number of workshops devoted to examining the ALEC agenda, corporations, and politicians. The session will culminate with a program followed by a "March to the Marriott" from the Hale Boggs Federal Building. Scheduled speakers and performances include Jordan Flaherty, journalist and community organizer; Bob Sloan, prison industry investigative consultant and author; David Rovics, musician; and representatives from the AFL-CIO and Interfaith Worker Justice.
As the U.S. suffers through catastrophic tornadoes, heat waves, and other climate extremes -- no doubt just a small taste of what the climate crisis will bring in the future -- polluting industries and the politicians that serve them want to convince you that excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is actually a good thing.
Hundreds of ALEC's model bills and resolutions bear traces of Koch DNA, raw ideas that were once at the fringes but that have been carved into "mainstream" policy through the wealth and will of Charles and David Koch.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is an influential, under-the-radar organization that facilitates collaboration between many of the most powerful corporations in America and state-level legislative representatives. Elected officials then introduce legislation approved by corporations in state houses across the U.S., without disclosing that the bills were pre-approved by corporations on ALEC task forces.
ALEC has had a long relationship with the tobacco industry. To explore this relationship, we studied publicly-available tobacco industry documents found in the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library (LTDL), an electronic archive created by the University of California San Francisco that contains 70+ million pages of previously-secret, internal tobacco industry documents obtained in the discovery phases of the 46 state attorneys general lawsuits against the tobacco industry. Those lawsuits were resolved in 1998. The documents were made public as a term of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between the states and the tobacco industry. Before now, ALEC documents in this database have not been a major focal point.