Talking Points Memo connects many of the dots related to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), state legislators (generally Republicans attending on state taxpayer money), presidential candidate Scott Walker and the corporate agenda written into legislation there.
You might as well call Scott Walker the man from ALEC. Plus the slogan, things go better with Koch.
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TPM has good summaries of these meetings:
Commonly known as ALEC, the group is somewhat unique in American politics. It boasts more than 2,000 members of state legislatures, the vast majority of whom are Republican. And at its annual meetings and other sponsored retreats and events, it pairs those state lawmakers with lobbyists and executives from its roster of corporate members. Together, lawmakers and private interests jointly collaborate on subcommittees – ALEC calls them ‘task forces’ – to set the group’s legislative agenda and draft portable ‘model’ bills that can then be taken home to legislators’ home states to be introduced as their own initiatives. The private sector members of these task forces have veto power over each committee’s agenda and actions. ALEC’s agenda, therefore, always prioritizes the interests and voices of its donors over elected lawmakers.
Operating as a 501(c)(3), the group claims to be an educational outfit that provides nonpartisan research to lawmakers for their “continuing education.” Because it is allowed charity status under the tax code, ALEC’s donors can write off their membership dues and contributions.
It’s a mistake, therefore, to think of ALEC primarily in terms of its documented association with Charles and David Koch. Rather, it’s an organization that facilitates intimate and discreet lobbying opportunities where donors have access to a self-selecting set of willing accomplices drawn from the nation’s fifty state legislatures. Those lawmakers are often pampered on donors’ dimes at the organization’s gatherings. And all of it is tax deductible for the companies because ALEC turns what would ordinarily be lobbying expenses into ‘scholarships’ for state lawmakers to further their educations. So if you’ve ever wondered why voter ID laws, so-called ‘right to work’ laws, attacks on private and public sector unions, attacks on clean air standards and sustainable energy, pro-charter school bills, attacks on college accreditation and teacher certification, laws proposing to centralize rulemaking on energy, pollution, power plants, state pension investments, tort reform, or food labeling seem to pop up in different state capitals seemingly simultaneously, with the identical legalese backed by the same talking points and even the same expert witnesses, ALEC is often the reason
Self-selected legislators? Indeed, the Arkansas delegation to San Diego recently was a Republican Murderers Row. Pampered? Indeed, lobbyists Ted Mullenix, Robbie Wills, Len Pitcock and Gilbert Baker (yes, THE Gilbert Baker involved in the Maggio bribery scandal) were on the official ALEC agenda as hosts of a dinner at a fancy San Diego steakhouse. Had you turned up to sit in on this session, you may be assured you would not have been welcome. That’s how the coronation banquets worked for the House and Senate leaders (who decide who gets to attend these ALEC swillfests). Mullenix rounded up money from lobbyists to pay for the soirees, laundered the dough through the Republican Party of Arkansas and sent out the message that the public was NOT invited. Lobbyists were.
Want to know how the Arkansas legislature works. Go to an ALEC meeting. But it will cost you if you want to play.