Lobbying

"ALEC Accountability Act" Introduced in Wisconsin

A Wisconsin state legislator is filing a bill that would require greater transparency regarding the activities of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in the state.

PocanRep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) has been circulating the "ALEC Accountability Act," a bill that would require ALEC to register with the state as a lobbyist and report the funding sources for the "scholarships" funding legislators' travel. Pocan refers to ALEC as a "dating service" for right-wing politicians and corporations who exercise undue influence over state law by crafting "model" legislation behind closed doors.

New Definition for Lobbying

Pocan believes that while ALEC is doing the work of a lobbyist, it is not complying with the reporting and registration requirements asked of all lobbyists. The bill would redefine "lobbying" to include contact with any member, employee, or agent of a body that "proposes uniform, model, suggested, or recommended legislation."

Newt Gingrich Says Freddie Mac is Just Like a Credit Union

Newt GingrichPresidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have been publicly going at it, trying to discredit one another in order to gain the frontrunner status in the GOP primary race. At the GOP debate in Florida, Romney accused Gingrich of being an "influence peddler" for his lucrative role consulting for the Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE) Freddie Mac, which many right-wingers blame for the subprime mortgage mess. In his response, Gingrich said "there are many different kinds of government-sponsored enterprises and many of them have done very good things" and likened Freddie Mac to electric cooperatives and federal credit unions.

But neither electric cooperatives nor credit unions are GSE's and this is the second time in recent presidential debates that Gingrich has used this line. Freddie Mac -- from which Gingrich has reportedly received $1.6 million in contracts -- is a quasi-governmental entity which the U.S. government backstops with loans and guarantees.
Very few institutions fit this description. On the other hand, credit unions are private nonprofit cooperatives, which are organized under charters authorized by either federal or state agencies. They do not receive funding from the U.S. government. In the case of Freddie Mac, the institution had to be bailed out by the Federal Reserve after its role in the subprime mortgage crisis, so now it is partially owned by the U.S. government.

While Gingrich has stated that he was not a lobbyist for the Freddie Mac, a recently released contract shows that Gingrich reported to Freddie Mac's director of public policy, essentially the group's top lobbyist.

No

ALEC and Westin/Starwood: Who is Your Hotel in Bed With While You're in Bed at Your Hotel?

Westin Kierland Resort in ScottsdaleTucson-based civil rights attorney Stacy Scheff believes that Westin Kierland may have violated federal constitutional law when they threw a journalist (and paid guest) out into the dead of night--due to the simple fact that the journalist evicted had written critically of (and was not liked by) the organization hosting a conference at the hotel. (A new story about these events is available here).

Timely Spoof Mocks Oil Drilling Front Group's New Ads

"Energy Citizens," a front group backed by the American Petroleum Institute (API), has launched a new national ad campaign in advance of the 2012 elections to try and make it sound like substantial public support exists for increased oil and gas drilling known as fracking. The print and TV ads, coordinated by the Edelman PR firm, are titled "I'm an Energy Voter." They feature supposedly average people looking into the camera and saying "I vote ...for American domestic energy" and promoting the industry's goals of opening up more land to drilling. The ads link increasing drilling to job creation, economic prosperity and national energy security.  (PRWatch has previously reported how, in fact, the increased fracking for "natural" methane gas has actually led to dramatically increased exporting of America's natural gas.)  The industry's ad also drives viewers to the website "Vote4Energy.org." The homepage of the website give no indication that Energy Citizens is a creation of the oil industry, as CMD has previously reported. API CEO Jack Gerard insists the effort is "not an ad campaign...It's a conversation with the American people." But when API put out a casting call to recruit volunteers to star in the commercial, a Greenpeace activist showed up. When he started to read his lines, he veered off-script and  decried the "lies and influence peddling" of the oil industry and he was quickly shown the door.

No

Indiana Workers Stand against the ALEC Agenda and the Anti-Labor Bill Called the "Right to Work" (for Less)

Thousands of Indiana workers rallied outside, and inside, their state capitol on Wednesday to speak out against Governor Mitch Daniels' renewed effort to force through so-called "right to work" legislation designed to undermine labor unions and workers' rights protected by collective bargaining.

Abramoff, Released from Prison, Rebrands Himself as Against Corruption

Jack AbramoffFormer Republican lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff, free after serving 43 months in federal prison on corruption charges, will now try and make a living off of his past. Abramoff was a highly  influential Washington, D.C. lobbyist who was found guilty in 2006 of bribing public officials and bilking his clients, the Choctaw Indian tribe of Mississippi, out of millions of dollars. He also overbilled his lobbying clients and pocketed the extra money. Abramoff, now 53 years old, broke and unemployed, has established a promotional website and plans to charge for giving talks about corruption in Washington with titles like "How Lobbysits Shape Your Industry" and "Can Congress be Fixed?" Abramoff is also making the rounds on talk shows like "Hannity," "60 Minutes," "The Early Show" and "Piers Morgan Tonight" in an attempt to rebrand himself as a whistleblower against corruption. He has a Facebook page and game app called "Congressional Jack," and a feature film in the works about his lobbying exploits. Abramoff needs to make money fast, since he must pay back over $40 million to the Indian tribe he was convicted of bilking. To assist his media endeavors, Abramoff hired PR specialist Janet Fallon of the Washington, D.C.-based PR firm PR Options to help organize his "redemption tour" and promote his new book, Capitol Punishment, about Washington politics. Prior to establishing PR Options, Fallon worked as media consultant at Weber Shandwick and for Pat Buchanan's 1992 presidential campaign.

No

ALEC Ties Bring Down British Defense Secretary, Threaten Prime Minister David Cameron

British Defense Secretary Liam Fox has stepped down in the midst of an escalating scandal tied to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The ALEC connections have led opposition party leaders and the British press to question whether British Prime Minister David Cameron has been "allowing a secret rightwing agenda to flourish at the heart of the Conservative party."

Gaming American Democracy: A Perfect Storm in Which Republicans Disenfranchise Voters While Giving Corporations Unchecked Powers

One of the most stunning results of the Republicans’ victory sweep in the midterm 2010 elections (which made Ohio Republican Congressman John Boehner Speaker of the House of Representatives, while the Democrats retained control of the Senate) was the GOP’s taking control of 19 state legislatures.

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