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More Light Shed on ALEC’s Influence

The spotlight’s been shining pretty bright this week on the right-wing Koch brothers-funded and corporate-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel examined new information out in recent days and reported that even though Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Republican lawmakers downplayed connections between ALEC’s agenda and their legislative efforts, “the similarities between some Wisconsin legislation and ALEC draft bills are striking.”

Center for Media and Democracy’s (CMD’s) Mary Bottari told the Journal Sentinel:

When you consider the 20 ALEC bills we identified and the ideas that keep coming out of this [Walker] administration, it just defies belief that there’s no relationship between these bills and ALEC.

The revelations about ALEC’s influence in Wisconsin and elsewhere stem from CMD’s new ALEC Exposed site that examines more than 800 model bills from ALEC and ties them to bills introduced in state legislatures around the country. In conjunction with the new CMD site, The Nation published a trio of articles outlining ALEC’s ties to the Koch Brothers, the drive to block and then repeal health care reform and its efforts to turn over state services to its private corporate membership.

A investigative piece at In These Times took a detailed look at ALEC’s near puppet-string influence on Republican state legislators with its model legislation to take away the collective bargaining rights of public employees, cripple unions, privatize public services and loosen regulations and lower taxes on corporations.

Bob Baugh, executive director of the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council, says he welcomes the recent spotlight and reminds us ALEC has had more than 30 years to push its anti-worker, corporate agenda. He says in the early 1980s, the AFL-CIO published information on ALEC’s coordination of state-level legislation and held workshops,

“Running Dogs of the Right,” at the AFL-CIO’s state federations conference in 1996 to expose ALEC’s and other right-wing operations.

CMD’s Bottari says she hopes this newest information on ALEC will spur people to take a closer look at what’s happening in their state legislatures.

An examination of the broad sweep of bills exposes a very radical agenda. Why is Wal-Mart involved with an organization that wants to turn Medicare and Medicaid into voucher plans? Why is Kraft working with a group that wants to privatize the public school system? Why is Coca-Cola going along with efforts to take away voting rights from college students? Why are Bayer and Pfizer and all the big insurance firms in bed with big tobacco?

We hope people will start asking these firms, which are all on ALEC’s corporate board, to quit undermining our democracy through ALEC.

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