United States of ALEC, A 2013 Follow-Up

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This week, Moyers & Company reports on the most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has never heard of — ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. A national consortium of state politicians and powerful corporations, ALEC presents itself as a “nonpartisan public-private partnership”. But behind that mantra lies a vast network of corporate lobbying and political action aimed to increase corporate profits at public expense without public knowledge.

“All of us here are very familiar with ALEC and the influence that ALEC has with many of the [legislative] members,” says Arizona State Senator Steve Farley. “Corporations have the right to present their arguments, but they don’t have the right to do it secretly.”

Click the map to let us know if your state legislator is an ALEC member.

In state houses around the country, hundreds of pieces of boilerplate ALEC legislation are proposed or enacted that would, among other things, dilute collective bargaining rights, make it harder for some Americans to vote, and limit corporate liability for harm caused to consumers — each accomplished without the public ever knowing who’s behind it. Using interviews, documents, and field reporting, the episode explores ALEC’s self-serving machine at work, acting in a way one Wisconsin politician describes as “a corporate dating service for lonely legislators and corporate special interests.”

Updated coverage includes new examples of corporate influence on state legislation and lawmakers, the growing public protest against ALEC’s big business-serving agenda, and internal tactics ALEC is instituting to further shroud its actions and intentions.

Executive Producer Tom Casciato says people who saw the first report “might be surprised to learn that, despite more than 40 companies having dropped out of ALEC, the organization is still going very strong… ALEC doesn’t publish a list of its members, so covering will always be hard.”

Casciato adds:

“In a democracy it’s a good idea for people to know where their laws originate. If your local legislator introduces a bill as his or her own, and it turns out the bill actually came from a national organization in which corporations have already voted as to whether or not they approve of it, and it also turns out that those corporations stand to profit by its passage, you ought to know that. It’ll never stop being important for journalists to cover the lawmaking process as it’s practiced not only in broad daylight but also behind closed doors.”

 
 
“United States of ALEC” is a collaboration between Okapi Productions LLC (filmmakers Tom Casciato and Kathleen Hughes) and the Schumann Media Center, headed by Bill Moyers, which supports independent journalism and public watchdogs including the Center for Media and Democracy, and Common Cause, whose investigators are featured in the report.

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  • Anonymous

    SEND HELP! ALEC alert (Posted on Oregon Nurses Association fbook page); “The Oregon House just passed House Bill 3162 which requires manufacturers to report the presence of known dangerous chemicals in products intended for children, and in some cases, phase out the use of those chemicals. Dangerous chemicals such as BPA, thalates, formaldehyde and others are linked to a variety of serious health conditions. This bill will give parents more information about the products they purchase for their children, and phase out chemicals in the products most likely to find their way into a child’s mouth.
    This is an important public health measure that ONA is pleased to support. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.”

    But this is an ALEC model bill to limit liability; Here’s the bill [no funding, corporate research only, fine of $5K no more than $10k thereafter, under $5M in sales is exempt] http://www.leg.state.or.us/13reg/measpdf/hb3100.dir/hb3162.intro.pdf
    And here’s the ALEC model; [Co-sponsered by Jason Conger, an ALEC civil justice task force member] http://www.alecexposed.org/w/images/8/88/0M4-Regulatory_Compliance_Congruity_With_Liability_Act_Exposed.pdf

  • Anonymous

    A list of the ALEC members should be published. These guys are selling our democracy to the highest bidder. The public certainly has a right to know about them.

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  • Anonymous

    Now it becomes clear why the right wing has been peddling “NWO” conspiracy theories for decades – to make those who oppose actual organized wrongdoing (ALEC) appear as just another group of wingnuts.

  • Anonymous

    I never knew the American system of government had a fourth branch which wrote the prospective bills for legislators. Nowhere in our constitution does it say there is or should be a fourth branch to propose bills to legislatures funded by corporations who stand to profit from their passage. This is wrong.

  • Anonymous

    Toxic democracy! The pathos is touching but logos is absent. Usual Murdoch media; http://www.ktvz.com/news/house-oks-bill-to-track-chemicals-toxic-to-kids/-/413192/20620540/-/6sen35z/-/index.html

  • Sarah Young

    Alce is a shameful group and just goes to show, one more time, that money buys government. Thank you Bill Moyers and Okapi Productions for shining a light on this group. I was so glad to see how many organizations and legislators have backed out of ALEC. What worries me is; Where are they going to influence legislators to do their bedding? That is really scary.

  • ENOUGH!!!!

    After reading this article I think its time America “REVOLTS” against Wall street, Lobbyists, and corporate America !!! We need to repeat 1776!!!