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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Government by corporate crony — GOP joins with ALEC

Posted by on Tue, Sep 11, 2012 at 11:19 AM

CORPORATE LOBBY: Criticism grows of ALEC.
  • CORPORATE LOBBY: Criticism grows of ALEC.
I hooted yesterday at billionaire Charles Koch's complaint about cronyism in government, given that he and his family are spending millions to win friends and influence in every level of government, including by hiring the wife of an Arkansas legislator.

Now comes Common Cause with word of another movement to formalize the partnership between the Koch-backed American Legislative Exchange Council, a thinly disguised lobby for corporate interests, and state and federal legislators. From its release:

Roll Call reported Tuesday that members of the RSC, which includes House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, plan to meet Friday with state legislators who are members of ALEC. The session at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, is said to be designed to forge a partnership between Congressional Republicans and ALEC to advance a small-government, pro-business legislative agenda in Washington and in state capitals.

“At the state level, ALEC’s member companies entertain lawmakers behind closed doors, write legislation for them and guide it into law. Their bills have undercut voting rights, led to privatized public schools and prisons, eviscerated environmental regulations and encouraged vigilantism. How does one justify partnering with such an outfit?’ Edgar asked

Any Arkansas state legislators to be on hand? U.S. Reps. Tim Griffin and Rick Crawford are members of the Study Committee partnership with the ALEC lobbying effort.

FULL COMMON CAUSE RELEASE

Congressional Republicans contemplating a partnership with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) should explain to voters why they would want to join forces with a lobbying organization that operates in secret on behalf of a profit-driven agenda and misleads the public and the Internal Revenue Service about its activities, Common Cause said today.

“With the IRS reviewing ALEC’s long history of tax fraud, and with major corporations like General Electric, General Motors and Coca-Cola heading for the exits, it’s mind-boggling to see the Republican Study Committee (RSC) and its 169 members looking to establish even informal ties to ALEC,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar.

Roll Call reported Tuesday that members of the RSC, which includes House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, plan to meet Friday with state legislators who are members of ALEC. The session at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, is said to be designed to forge a partnership between Congressional Republicans and ALEC to advance a small-government, pro-business legislative agenda in Washington and in state capitals.

“At the state level, ALEC’s member companies entertain lawmakers behind closed doors, write legislation for them and guide it into law. Their bills have undercut voting rights, led to privatized public schools and prisons, eviscerated environmental regulations and encouraged vigilantism. How does one justify partnering with such an outfit?’ Edgar asked

More than 4,000 pages of ALEC emails, “issue alerts,” legislative tracking documents and other materials Common Cause has provided to the IRS establish that “ALEC is a corporate lobby disguised as a charity," ALEC said. "ALEC has repeatedly lied under oath to the IRS about its lobbying and claims a tax exemption for the millions of dollars it spends.”

More than three dozen major companies have left ALEC in recent months, under pressure from Common Cause activists and others concerned about ALEC’s activities.

“We know that ALEC keeps in touch with members of Congress who as state legislators were ALEC members,” Edgar said. “But this budding new partnership with the RSC indicates that ALEC’s corporate overseers are intent on expanding their already-outsized influence at every level of government.”

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