What Fresh Hell Is This?

August 9, 2011

More On ALEC Defenders

I normally don't comment on letters to the editor (as I figure everyone's entitled to their own opinion) but when the letter writer's a legislator who's a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council and the letter in question is defending ALEC, well I gotta. I just gotta.

Here's the letter:
ALEC's mission

As the national chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council, I want to respond to "Analysis Finds State Legislation Copied From D.C. Group" (Aug. 3). ALEC is a transparent, nonpartisan, 501(c)3 organization dedicated to advancing the principles of free markets, limited government and individual liberty.

ALEC is a resource for state legislators across the country to find sound policy solutions to today's complex issues with a primary focus on fiscal responsibility and economic growth in each policy area. ALEC believes a vibrant private sector is good for the economy and job creation and, when faced with policy decisions that have an enormous effect on our society, legislators should hear from those who are affected. No one would consider writing an education bill without talking to teachers, or health care legislation without talking to doctors. So why would we do it in any other area?

The simple fact is that no matter what we discuss at a conference, we each have to make a decision whether it is good for the people we represent. If so, whatever may begin as a model bill must go through the legislative process unique to each state. The bills are subject to legal review, committee hearings, amendments and floor debate before legislators vote to reject or adopt it and a governor signs it into law.

It's an entirely democratic and transparent process and to suggest otherwise misleads the public.

America is a representative democracy and legislators are elected by the people to represent the people. As state legislators, we try to find the best solutions to growing the economy, creating jobs and utilizing taxpayer dollars effectively and efficiently. ALEC helps us fulfill this goal.

National Chairman
American Legislative Exchange Council
Washington, D.C.
I see the word "transparency" twice. First that ALEC is a "transparent" organization and second that it's part of a "transparent" process that's unquestionably democratic.


Then why is the membership private? Then why is the "model legislation" section of ALEC's website kept only for the private membership?

Who funds ALEC? Who drafts the "model legislation"? And finally who are its members who are are also elected officials from Pennsylvania?

IF the organization is transparent, THEN we'd have an answer to at least some of these questions. Since we don't we can't agree with the noble legislator from ALEC when he asserts (incorrectly, as it turns out) that ALEC is a transparent organization.

Think Progress has some evidence for who funded ALEC's recent convention in New Orleans. Given the "pro-business" stance of ALEC, it's hardly surprising that these three corporations would be supporting the convention at the President's Level:
  • BP
  • Reynolds American
  • Takeda Pharmaceutical
Didn't BP have a little oil spill close to New Orleans some time ago?

I seem to recall something about that in the news.

Then there's the Chairman Level:
  • Allergan
  • Altria
  • American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity
  • American Electric Power
  • AT&T
  • Bayer
  • Chevron
  • ExxonMobil
  • EZCorp
  • Lumina Foundation
  • Peabody
  • PhRMA
  • Shell
  • State Farm
  • State Policy Network
  • UnitedHealthcare
  • Visa
  • Walmart
  • Walton Family Foundation
And so on. Big Oil, Health Insurance, "Clean" Coal - who'da thought that they'd what to influence statewide legislation?

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