What is ALEC? Despite claims that it’s nonpartisan, it’s very much a movement-conservative organization, funded by the usual suspects: the Kochs, Exxon Mobil, and so on. Unlike other such groups, however, it doesn’t just influence laws, it literally writes them, supplying fully drafted bills to state legislators. In Virginia, for example, more than 50 ALEC-written bills have been introduced, many almost word for word. And these bills often become law.Did you know that there are ALEC legislators here in Pennsylvania?
If you're a faithful reader of this blog (and who isn't?) you would.
But back to Krugman:
Did I mention that ALEC has played a key role in promoting bills that make it hard for the poor and ethnic minorities to vote?Did you there are ALEC politicians pushing legislation making it "hard for the poor and ethnic minorities to vote"?
Yet that’s not all; you have to think about the interests of the penal-industrial complex — prison operators, bail-bond companies and more. (The American Bail Coalition has publicly described ALEC as its “life preserver.”) This complex has a financial stake in anything that sends more people into the courts and the prisons, whether it’s exaggerated fear of racial minorities or Arizona’s draconian immigration law, a law that followed an ALEC template almost verbatim.
If you're a faithful reader of this blog you already know about ALEC legislator Daryl Metcalfe.
I'll give Krugman the penultimate word:
Now, ALEC isn’t single-handedly responsible for the corporatization of our political life; its influence is as much a symptom as a cause. But shining a light on ALEC and its supporters — a roster that includes many companies, from AT&T and Coca-Cola to UPS, that have so far managed to avoid being publicly associated with the hard-right agenda — is one good way to highlight what’s going on. And that kind of knowledge is what we need to start taking our country back.You really should read that Open Secrets piece. It's an eye opener.
Oh and who do we have to thank for keeping ALEC afloat in its early years? According to the Washington Post in 1999, that would be our good friend and owner of the Tribune-Review, newspaper magnate Richard Mellon Scaife:
ALEC makes a mark with its model legislation. The last time it counted (1995-96), 132 ALEC bills were enacted in various states, from charter school legislation to pro-business bills on environmental and regulatory topics. Many states used its version of welfare reform legislation.Thanks, Dick.
ALEC is unabashedly pro-business. Its expert task forces, which write the model legislation, are composed of legislators and business representatives. About two-thirds of ALEC's $6 million budget comes from corporate contributions.
Scaife has given ALEC more than $2 million since 1975, keeping the group alive in its early years.