From Potter at the P-G:
Depending on whom you ask, the American Legislative Exchange Council is either a Model United Nations or “a kind of dating service for corporations to hook up with legislators.”And there'll be a protest today, as well.
It won’t be easy to tell who’s right. ALEC’s “Spring Task Force Summit,” to be held Friday at the Omni William Penn Hotel, will be closed to press and public. And although the organization touts steps toward increased transparency, as an educational nonprofit group, it does not disclose its roughly 300 corporate members or the names of most state legislators who belong.
ALEC bills itself as a forum where “job creators and state legislators alike … offer important policy perspectives.” Participants help shape model legislation for state governments on issues including reforming public pensions, scrapping union-backed “prevailing wage” laws and barring local ordinances that require restaurants to post nutrition information.
“Think of ALEC as a Model United Nations,” suggested Molly Drenkard, a spokeswoman for the four-decade-old Washington, D.C., organization.
But Erin Kramer, who heads the activist group One Pittsburgh and is the person who characterized the group as a “dating service” for legislators and businesses, said ALEC is nothing more than a conduit for corporations to get their messages to lawmakers.
From ONEPITTSBURGH's Press Release:
On Friday at noon, labor, low wage workers, faith groups, racial justice, and local student communities will join One Pittsburgh to hold a large demonstration protesting the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is a powerful pay-to-play operation where corporations buy a seat and a vote on ‘task forces’ to advance their legislative wish lists and get tax breaks for donations, effectively passing these lobbying costs on to taxpayers. The group is holding its Spring Task Force Summit at the Omni William Penn in Pittsburgh on Friday, May 6.We've written about ALEC before - especially its financial connections to the former owner of a certain local newspaper, the late Richard Mellon Scaife.
The ALEC conference brings together hundreds of corporate lobbyists and wealthy funders from around the country to wine and dine conservative lawmakers promising them hefty contributions in exchange for supporting state legislation that weakens worker and environmental protections, eviscerates public education, lowers wages, and hollows out communities of color for corporate profit.
Something to think about when you read about ALEC in the Trib:
Hundreds of U.S. lawmakers will descend on downtown Pittsburgh Friday to swap policy and review “model” laws drafted by one of the most influential and controversial legislative advocacy machines in America.Especially this part:
The American Legislative Exchange Council, a Washington-based libertarian organization, expects about 400 state lawmakers to attend its one-day spring task force summit in the Omni William Penn Hotel.
“We don't go into the states and lobby. We develop model policy,” said ALEC CEO Lisa B. Nelson, who took the helm about a year and a half ago, after working in public and governmental affairs for Visa, AOL Time Warner and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
During its 43-year history, ALEC has become known for its effectiveness in shaping policy as much as its reputation among critics on the left as an allegedly dark-money-fueled, secretive policymaking arm pushing boiler-plate laws underwritten by special interests and industry representatives.Funny how Lindstrom of the Trib missed the millions the former owner of her paper slipped to ALEC over the years.
“We're providing a resource to legislators so that they can seek policy that has been vetted, but they're not going to take policies just because they're there,” ALEC spokesman Bill Meierling said. “They're going to take the right policies that are consistent with their communities and use them or not, or use parts of them or not.”
In regards to funding, Ellis pointed to groups such as the liberal-leaning National Conference of State Legislatures and moderate Council of State Governments — “They're all supported by corporations,” he said.
Take a look at this from the Washington Post:
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.And that was 17 years ago.
I have to wonder why that little bit of information (that the former owner of the paper had a large hand in creating the entity that its reporter was assigned to cover) somehow never made it into "the news."
This is how they do it. This is how the 1% operates.
Protest ALEC today. Mellon Square. Noon. I'll be there.