Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Who writes our laws? – ALEC: America’s little known ghost organization


As The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell puts it, democracy is for sale.  In 1973, a little known organization called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was formed.  This organization is comprised of extreme right-winged politicians and multinational corporations.  These corporations write hundreds of model bills every year that factor their interests.
People for the American Way (PFAW) informs us that “in 2009, of the 826 ‘model bills’ that were introduced in state legislatures, 115 of those bills were enacted into law.”  In some cases, these laws were written almost word for word as the legislation proposed by ALEC.

ALEC’s board of directors includes companies like Koch (shock, right?), Pharma, AT&T, Wal-Mart, and State Farm Insurance.  Membership of ALEC also includes big oil like Exxon, Texaco, Shell, and Chevron…not that this is any surprise.

A lot of this legislation was seen already this year in the worker’s rights battles of Wisconsin, Ohio, and many other states.  PFAW asserts “when state legislators across the nation introduce similar or identical bills designed to boost corporate power and profits, reduce worker’s rights, limit corporate accountability for pollution, or restrict voting by minorities, odds are good that the legislation was not written by a state lawmaker but by corporate lobbyists working through the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Another example of ALEC’s interference can be seen in Arizona.  An organization called Cuentame is trying to expose Arizona senator Russell Pearce, whom Cuentame points out has ties to “white separatist, neo-Nazi groups,” and the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) for trying to profit off of immigrants…whether they are legal or not.

The bill being pushed is Arizona’s SB1070.  SB1070 is legislation written almost exactly as ALEC worded it.  The bill seeks to further fill Arizona’s prisons…for profit.  Cuentame notes that one prisoner could cost $200 a day, $6,000 per week, and $72,000 a year.

What we have here is a disgusting case of the Prison Industrial Complex.

Am I the only one who thinks profiting off of prisoners is a creepy practice?  Makes you wonder about recent legislation in Indiana which allows police to enter your home without a warrant, totally disregarding that little thing we American’s call the Fourth Amendment.  There are copy-cat versions of this bill popping up all over the United States.

Andrew Gillum of PFAW informs us that the budget for ALEC is well over $600 million a year comprised of “over 300 corporate, private entities who come together, assemble, [and] create legislative playlists…that become pull and play…legislation for the legislators…” that influence all fifty states.  “ALEC has pushed forward legislation that will adversely affect…proponents of comprehensive immigration reform; it will impact what happens for teachers and other government and public employees and public employee unions around the country.”  Gillum continues to say that ALEC is “forwarding interests and actions that are…contrary and not in the best interest of the average working people in this country.”

The biggest losers are the citizens whose rights and interests are sold off to the highest bidder.  PFAW believes that “it helps surrogates and lobbyists for corporations draft and promotes bills which gut environmental laws, create a regressive tax system, eliminate workers’ rights, undermine universal and affordable health care, privatize public education, and chip away at voting rights.”

Sounds like the typical conservative agenda to me.


  1. From Jillian Barclay

    The laws written by ALEC are authored by lobbyists from the following companies:

    * Bayer

    * Glaxo-Smith-Kline

    * Reynolds

    * Wal-Mart

    * Johnson & Johnson

    * Energy Future Holdings

    * PhRMA

    * Kraft Foods

    * American Bail Coalition

    * Pfizer

    * Reed-Elsevier

    * DIAGEO

    * AT&T

    * Peabody Energy

    * UPS

    * Intuit, Inc

    * Koch Brothers

    * Coca-Cola

    * Altria Client Services

    * Exxon Mobil

    *Salt River Project

    * State Farm Insurance Company

    * Centerpoint 360

    Were these the people we elected to write our laws? No! ALEC is a conservative, corporate-backed and shadowy group designed to steal our democracy. Your post is absolutely correct and people in this country should be far more concerned by this then they appear to be...

  2. Thank you for the comment, Jillian! Please continue to inform the people of these corporate organizations that DO NOT have their best interests in mind.

    They have one line...the bottom line.

    We cannot continue to let corporations run this country. The cyberpunk movies out there showing a future corporate despot isn't that far-fetched anymore. If the state senate in Michigan would have passed the original house bill (which is now a law modified)letting corporations be federal emergency managers and stripping away all local leadership power (which has happened, only now it is an appointed Snyder corporate croney instead...some democracy!), Michigan residents could be living in Pepsiville and have to ask a board of directors to put in a stop sign!