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PSN on May 4, 2006 - 1:44pm
The Cleveland Free Times takes a long, hard look at the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) operating methods in Ohio. As usual, it ain't pretty. The right-wing, corporate-funded network of state legislators is exposed quite thoroughly.
The usual facts about ALEC are all there: the fact that corporations pay tens of thousands of dollars for access to the organization, that the companies in question "includ[e] household names like Pfizer, Philip Morris Management Corp., Proctor & Gamble Co., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., United Parcel Service and Verizon Communications." The story even got a representative of the National Conference of State Legislatures to say that ALEC's policy is developed "with, and for, the business community," something that no publicly-backed legislative policy organization would think of doing.
One of ALEC's most telling aspects also gets revealed in this story: the extent to which they are willing to lie to avoid scrutiny. The bill that prompted this article was a bill written to ensnare mainstream conservation organizations under eco-terrorism laws.
Needless to say, activists were outraged. And they started digging. Like so many heinous bills, what they found with their research as an organization called ALEC.
They called out the sponsor of the legislation, State Senator Jeff Jacobson, "and made a public records request demanding the names of those who'd been given input." As a result, Jacobson told a local paper that the bill was ALEC legislation.
But the next day, Jacobson recanted. He should not have mentioned ALEC, he told the Daily News. Instead, he should have said that the provision was based on a measure introduced in Arizona. A little digging by SERC revealed that even the Arizona bill had ALEC fingerprints all over it ï¿½ and had also surfaced in the state legislatures of New York, South Carolina and Washington.
In its promotional literature, ALEC claims to introduce hundreds of bills every year and get many of them passed. Oddly, asked for specific examples, the organization is reticent. And even in cases like this where the ALEC connection gets admitted, lawmakers get pressured to backslide.
ALEC's members, leaders, and corporate backers like to claim that it's just a normal public policy group. Normal public policy outfits don't hide from scrutiny.