The piece is primarily about the recent corporate support defections from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC):
When America’s corporate titans shift their weight, the tremors travel fast. Last week, Coca-Cola, Kraft and accounting-software giant Intuit announced they were ending their membership in a conservative nonprofit group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The news sent reporters scrambling to explain what exactly the 39-year-old organization does, why it matters and how its role in spreading laws — governing everything from voter ID requirements to anti-illegal-immigration efforts — came to be a problem for some of America’s foremost corporate citizens.And it's in the background that we find some interesting pieces of information:
ALEC, a tax-exempt group operating under the 501(c)3 section of the IRS code, bills itself as “a nonpartisan membership association for conservative state lawmakers” interested in “limited government, free markets, federalism and individual liberty.” It convenes policy task forces and drafts model bills that can be introduced in state legislatures nationwide. For a modest membership fee, conservative legislators gain access to the group’s resources. Think of ALEC’s prepackaged and prelawyered legislation as Swanson TV dinners: all you need is a majority vote to reheat it, and it’s ready to serve. The result: similarly flavored bills in statehouses across the country.Guess where this is leading?
But first some history:
Founded in 1973 by conservative lawmakers and activists — most notably Paul Weyrich, who also set up the flagship conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation that same year — ALEC was designed to further small-government and private-sector interests at the local level.They forgot our old buddy Richard Mellon Scaife (this is from 1999):
Scaife has given ALEC more than $2 million since 1975, keeping the group alive in its early years. Now his donations ($75,000 last year) are an insignificant part of its budget.Scaife's also an important player at the Heritage Foundation, by the way.
But back to Time:
In 2009, ALEC’s election-policy task force adopted model bills that would require voters to present photo ID at the booth. The next year, Idaho and Oklahoma passed similar laws. In 2011, Kansas, Mississippi, Rhode Island and Wisconsin did too, while Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas tightened existing ID standards. Governors in Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire and North Carolina vetoed strict new voter-ID measures. Pennsylvania’s governor signed a voter-ID bill into law in March.Ah...that would be this VoterID law (HB 934). Sponsored by our good friend (and ALEC member) Daryl Metcalfe.
See how nice and circular that all is?
I wonder if, the next time Metcalfe's on Night Talk, someone will ask him about his ALEC membership or the Swanson TV Dinner model of legislative composition.