Ethics

Justice Prosser Back in the Spotlight

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David ProsserEmbattled Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser is in the spotlight once again, this time for a conflict-of-interest in a pending case involving Koch-funded Tea Party groups.

The case, Wisconsin Prosperity Network v. Myse, involves a challenge by Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity to proposed campaign disclosure rules passed in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision (and subsequently enjoined by the Wisconsin Supreme Court). Attorney Jim Troupis is arguing against the transparency requirements on behalf of Americans for Prosperity and the other Tea Party-affiliated groups. Troupis Law Office was also paid $75,000 by Justice Prosser to represent his campaign during last spring's contentious supreme court election recount.

Insurers Deliberately Confuse Policyholders and Dump the Sick

A couple of years ago, when Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia asked me to testify about little-known health insurance industry practices at a hearing of his Senate Commerce Committee, I initially was reluctant. I knew that if I was completely honest, my life would change forever.

What he was asking me to do was to disclose practices that have contributed to the growing number of Americans without insurance, the even faster growing number of us who are underinsured, and the phenomenal increase in insurance industry profits over the years, even as the ranks of those without coverage swelled.

Corporations are People, My Friend, and So are States, Say GOPers

While on the campaign trail in Iowa, former corporate executive and Republican governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney shot back at hecklers who were challenging his stance that it would be unfair and unwise to raise taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations to reduce the deficit.

Corporations are people"Corporations are people, my friend," Romney said. "Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? People's pockets! Human beings, my friend."

Democrats were quick to pounce.

ALEC: Facilitating Corporate Influence Behind Closed Doors

Closed meetingThrough the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), corporations pay to bring state legislators to one place, sit them down for a sales pitch on policies that benefit the corporate bottom line, then push "model bills" for legislators to make law in their states. Corporations also vote behind closed doors alongside politicians on this wish-list legislation through ALEC task forces. Notably absent were the real people who would actually be affected by many of those bills and policies.

With legislators concentrated in one city, lobbyists descend on the conference to wine-and-dine elected officials after-hours, a process simplified by legislators' schedules being freed from home and family responsibilities. Multiple Wisconsin lobbyists for Koch Industries, the American Bail Coalition, Competitive Wisconsin, State Farm, Pfizer, and Wal Mart were in New Orleans, as were lobbyists for Milwaukee Charter School Advocates, Alliant Energy, and Johnson & Johnson. Corporations also sponsor invitation-only events like the Reynolds American tobacco company's cigar reception, attended by several Wisconsin legislators including Health & Human Services chair Leah Vukmir.

Can PR Save Bahrain's Monarchy?

Bahrian's Sunni-led monarchy has hired the Washington, D.C. PR firm Qorvis Communications at a rate of $40,000/month to help improve its image after the Bahraini government, struggling to suppress a Shia-led protest movement, attacked the humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders (DWB).

No

Top Companies Claim To Fight Global Warming, But Sponsor ALEC’s Climate Denial

(By Brad Johnson, reposted from ThinkProgress, August 8, 2011)

Greenwash paintThe fight against global warming pollution requires the investment of everyone, including the world's multinational corporate giants. Many companies have taken official stances on climate pollution, pledging to reduce their greenhouse footprint in order to reduce the threat of a destabilized climate.

However, a number of these same companies are sponsoring toxic, far-right denial of climate science. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) pushes an extremist denier agenda throughout the United States, funded in secret by corporations. ThinkProgress has acquired a list of the sponsors of ALEC's 2011 annual meeting, held last week in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Protesters Spotlight Corporate Influence in State Politics at ALEC Annual Meeting

As they sometimes say in the South, it's all about taking care of bid'ness.

Protesters carried signs explaining ALEC's role in state governmentBut don't tell that to the group of 100 or so protesters, who on Friday afternoon marched on the Marriott hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA), where corporate lobbyists were voting with state lawmakers on "model" legislation at the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) 38th Annual Meeting.

The protest, organized in part by Louisiana State University's Student Labor Action Project, the Defend Ohio Campaign, and activists from across the country, began at the Hale Boggs Federal Building in downtown NOLA. That same day, members of the local community also gathered to celebrate the conviction of five police officers on charges stemming from the notorious Danziger Bridge case. A federal jury found the officers guilty of civil rights violations in the shootings of unarmed citizens.

Journalist Kicked out of ALEC Conference, Threatened With Arrest

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."

ALEC Model Bills Create Hardship for Average Americans

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).

Lisa Graves moderated the discussionThe 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.

Health Insurers Sacrifice Americans for Profit

Three of the biggest health insurers have announced quarterly earnings in the past few days. If Americans were able to eavesdrop on what executives from those firms tell their Wall Street masters every three months, they would have a better understanding of why premiums keep going up while the number of people with medical coverage keeps going down.

Too Much Profit, Not Enough Care signIt only takes three words, when you get right down to it, to describe the real of those folks: profits over people.

CIGNA and Humana are scheduled to report earnings this week. The three companies that have already spoken -- UnitedHealth, WellPoint and Aetna -- earned a combined $2.51 billion from April through the end of June, more than analysts expected. On a per share basis, their earnings were up more than 17 percent on average compared with the second quarter of 2010.

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