What suddenly created the exodus?
In 2012 The New York Times reports, “Some companies give much more, all of it tax deductible: AT&T, Pfizer and Reynolds American each contributed $130,000 to $398,000, according to a copy of ALEC’s 2010 tax returns, obtained by The Times, that included donors’ names, which are normally withheld from public inspection. The returns show that corporate members pay stipends — it calls them “scholarships” — for lawmakers to travel to annual conferences, including a four-day retreat where ALEC spends as much as $250,000 on child care for members’ families.”
“The New York Times reported that special interests have ‘effectively turn[ed] ALEC’s lawmaker members into stealth lobbyists, providing them with talking points, signaling how they should vote and collaborating on bills affecting hundreds of issues’…Bloomberg Businessweek stated, ‘Part of ALEC’s mission is to present industry-backed legislation as grass-roots work.’ The Guardian described ALEC as ‘a dating agency for Republican state legislators and big corporations, bringing them together to frame right wing legislative agendas in the form of “model bills.”’ Several liberal groups, including Common Cause, have challenged its tax-exempt status.”
In 2003, Donald Ray Kennard, ALEC national chairman, said, “We are a very, very conservative organization.” Now in the era of Stupidparty, if the head of a major legislative player sees his organization in this way (i.e. extremely right wing in a very conservative country), which is the political equivalent of saying Opus Dei is running the Vatican – then any objective mind can clearly begin to see a truly odious agenda, to the point of its being an existential threat not just to democracy, but to humanity. For we live in a complex world, requiring acute critical thinking capabilities. You think I am exaggerating? Well, consider the following:
Voter ID efforts – since my book proves voter fraud is not an issue, ever-expanding Voter ID laws are simply voter-suppression efforts targeting minorities, and they are vital to the survival of Stupidparty.
Immigration – the ALEC model is one of the toughest in the country. These more extreme bills are designed only to excite bigotry and misinform the Stupidparty base. The fact is that immigration is actually good for the economy.
Animal Cruelty – ALEC is behind efforts to make photographing animal torture illegal and wants to be able to legally define animal rights activists as terrorists.
Prison Privatization – They are behind efforts to profitize the penal system, thus creating both an economic and political motive to increase America’s already absurd incarceration rates and engage in additional voter suppression, as inmates cannot vote, and those with criminal records can be restricted or intimidated. American has an extraordinary and unnecessarily high number of people with criminal records.
Do the Koch brothers and their “friends” really not believe in climate change? Sadly, the question is totally irrelevant – because their belief system is governed by nothing but greed: they are just not wealthy enough. If you really want to understand what drives these guys, just read their biographies: Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty, their secrets are revealed. Their real motivation for promoting such claptrap will become clearer below.
The minimum wage is evidently not minimum enough, as politicians backed by conservative group ALEC have introduced 67 laws aimed at reducing minimum wage levels in 25 states.
Coal, Oil, and Gas – In spite of its emphasis on secrecy, photo ID’s –every now and again a non-Stupidparty rep can find himself or herself in the hive. As attendee Chris Tyler in the Urban Milwaukee reports:
“A part of ALEC’s battle is to preserve an old economy, where coal, oil and gas remain supreme. Their defense of these industries represents the will of corporate members Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil and Peabody Energy. Yet their regressive approach to energy policy conflicts with their professed allegiance to Jeffersonian ‘free market’ principles and consumer choice.
“Though the renewable energy sector is growing, is popular with the public, and is generating new jobs — and the solar industry now employs 140,000 more people than our nation’s coal mines — conference attendees focused on hindering this sector, especially solar. Minnesota Rep. Pat Garofalo, who recently received national attention about a racist tweet concerning NBA players, quipped ‘solar is dumb.’
“Legislators from Utah and Oklahoma bragged about slowing the development of solar energy in their states. Oklahoma Sen. A. J. Griffin passed a bill to tax individuals using distributed generation from solar panels or wind turbines to ‘protect our most vulnerable utilities.’ ALEC wants to tax people who use small-scale solar or wind or who drive electric cars. According to ALEC, property owners should have a right to kill a person on their property, but not use solar or wind energies on their property without paying a tax.”
Penalizing people who produce their own clean energy – how much sicker can you get? ALEC, which has referred to homeowners with their own solar panels as ‘free-riders on the system,’ is deeply involved in both combating renewable energy mandates and modeling legislation that targets net metering. Last year alone, ALEC pushed more than 70 bills in 37 states that would have impeded clean energy growth.
“ALEC’s operating model raises many ethical and legal concerns. Each state has a different set of ethics laws or rules. The presence of lobbyists alone may cause ethics problems for some state legislators. Wisconsin, for instance, generally requires legislators who go to events with registered lobbyists to pay on their own dime, yet in many states, legislators use public funds to attend ALEC meetings. According to one study, $3 million in public funds was spent to attend ALEC meetings in one year. Some legislators use their personal funds and are reimbursed by ALEC. Such ‘scholarships’ may be disclosed if gifts are required to be reported. But should the legislators be allowed to accept this money when lobbyists are present at the meeting? Still other legislators use their campaign funds to go and are again reimbursed by ALEC; in some states, campaign funds are only allowed to be used to attend campaign events.
“In short, many state ethics codes might consider the free vacation, steeply discounted membership fees, free day care or travel scholarships to be ‘gifts’ that should be disallowed or disclosed.”