Financial services company Visa has dropped its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), providing further evidence of ALEC's dwindling membership in the wake of a major expose by The Guardian. Visa (whose slogan is "everywhere you want to be") made the announcement to Boston Common Asset Management, which had been engaging with Visa over the past year on lobbying disclosure.
CMD counted 50 corporations that had publicly dropped their ALEC membership, but according to internal ALEC documents published by The Guardian, ALEC estimates they've lost around 60 corporate members in the past two years, in the fallout over ALEC's role in promoting Stand Your Ground legislation, voter ID, and an array of other controversial bills. As a result of that shrinking roster of corporate members, "in the first six months of this year [ALEC] suffered a hole in its budget of more than a third of its projected income," The Guardian reports. Read the rest of this item here.
Internal documents from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) published by The Guardian provide stunning insight into the inner workings of the "corporate bill mill" -- and offer new evidence about how the group has continually misled reporters, the public, and even its own members.
The notoriously secretive ALEC has been thrust into the sunlight in the two years since the Center for Media and Democracy launched ALECexposed.org, analyzed over 800 of ALEC's previously-secret model bills, and documented the corporations and legislators pushing ALEC's legislative agenda. It now appears that ALEC has been scorched by the sunshine.
According to the new Guardian documents, which were apparently prepared for ALEC's board in August, over the past two years ALEC has been losing corporate members, suffering from major funding shortfalls, and anticipates legal trouble with ethics rules and its charitable tax status.
ALEC claims it has made “great strides” in the realm of transparency. -- John Piscopo (R-CT), ALEC National Chair and a Connecticut state legislator, The Hill, Nov. 1, 2013.
FACT: ALEC Goes to Great Lengths to Hide its Activities and Funders
ALEC has gone to great lengths to hide its activities and corporate funders and authors of bills it wants legislators to introduce. This year, ALEC began stamping the materials it gives to legislators with a “disclaimer” asserting that the documents are not subject to any state’s open records/freedom of information laws, despite the laws in many states that have long required lawmakers to disclose communications from outside groups and constituents. Read the rest of this item here.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) meets in Washington, DC this week for its "States and Nation Policy Summit," which is one of the ways ALEC crafts and pushes its legislative agenda for the coming year. U.S. Senator Ted Cruz -- who helped push the country to the brink of financial default to thwart the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- headlines the conference on Thursday, December 5. Failed vice-presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and his Senator counterpart Ron Johnson (R-WI) will also address the crowd.
But what will happen behind closed doors during the meeting?
ALEC posted part of its legislative agendas for the meeting for the first time this month, while continuing to hide its funders and corporate authors of special interest legislation, as the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has reported. Read the rest of this item here.
Google, the tech giant supposedly guided by its “don’t be evil” motto, has been funding a growing list of groups advancing the agenda of the Koch brothers.
Organizations that received “substantial” funding from Google for the first time over the past year include Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, the Federalist Society, the American Conservative Union (best known for its CPAC conference), and the political arm of the Heritage Foundation that led the charge to shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act: Heritage Action.
In 2013, Google also funded the corporate lobby group, the American Legislative Exchange Council, although that group is not listed as receiving “substantial” funding in the list published by Google. Read the rest of this item here
Throughout the 1980s, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) -- now infamous for its work on behalf of “stand your ground” laws and restrictions on voting rights -- was instrumental in pushing anti-gay policies throughout the country, according to documents recently uncovered by People For the American Way and the Center For Media and Democracy.
A 1985 policy memo entitled “Homosexuals: Just Another Minority Group” sums up ALEC’s anti-gay policy positions and the false claims and outrageous stereotypes on which they were based. ALEC disseminated the memo to its public sector members, arguing that the “homosexual movement has had an impact too great and far reaching for Americans to ignore.”
Through the policy memo and its monthly newsletters, ALEC tracked local, state and federal legislation and provided its members with “research” to help them prevent advances in gay rights. However ALEC of course did not view these rights as rights; instead, ALEC asserted that the gay community was organizing “to achieve the privileges it thinks it deserves.” Read the rest of this item here.
The post-Citizens United dark money showdown is underway in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin makes sense. In November 2010, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker swept to power at a time of economic turmoil with a promise to create 250,000 jobs. Instead, with Republican control of both houses, he passed a bill knee-capping public-sector unions, sparking an 18-day occupation of the Capitol and weeks of mass protests, regularly topping 100,000.
The controversy immediately kicked off a struggle for control of the Wisconsin Senate. Between 2011 and 2012 Wisconsin voters across the state knocked on doors, circulated recall petitions, and put an unprecedented number of state officials up for recall. Thirteen state senators eventually faced recall elections. Read the rest of this item here.
The Center for Media and Democracy’s (CMD) series of profiles on “America’s Highest Paid Government Workers” today puts the spotlight on George Zoley, Chief Executive Officer of GEO Group, one of America’s largest for-profit prison firms providing services to states and the federal government.
GEO Group’s revenue in 2012 exceeded $1.4 billion and CMD estimates that 86% of this money came out of the pockets of taxpayers. CMD’s investigation of GEO Group unearthed how the company’s cost-cutting strategies lead to a vicious cycle where lower wages and benefits for workers, high employee turnover, insufficient training, and under-staffing results in poor oversight and mistreatment of detained persons, increased violence, and riots.
But according to SEC filings, top officials at the firm are doing just fine. From 2008-2012 George C. Zoley raked in $22 million in compensation. Thank you taxpayers!
Who is Tracie Sharp? She is the executive director of the State Policy Network (SPN), a web of right-wing “think tanks” in every state across the country. Although many of SPN’s member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, our in-depth investigation reveals that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, America Legislation Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed agenda in state houses nationwide. They have deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders, and several affiliates appear to orchestrate extensive lobbying and political operations to peddle their legislative agenda to state legislators while reporting little or no lobbying activities.
During Sharp’s tenure, SPN has grown at a rapid rate, expanding from 43 member state think tanks in 2002 to 64 member state think tanks as of 2013. Read the rest of this item here.
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This week, Google joins Koch Industries, ExxonMobil and a passel of other fossil fuel barons at ALEC's annual meeting in Washington, DC, where bills to "tax the sun" and limit the EPA's regulation of greenhouse gases will be on the table.
The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government
The State Policy Network (SPN), a web of pressure groups in all 50 states that call themselves "think tanks" while dramatically influencing state law, is a powerful and stealthy ally of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), as the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) detailed in the recent report, "The State Policy Network: The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government." That report is part of a new initiative with Progress Now called “StinkTanks.org,” which includes additional research and reports on these groups in each state. Read the rest of this item here.
The Center for Media and Democracy's (CMD) series of profiles on "America's Highest Paid Government Workers" today puts the spotlight on Jeffry Sterba, president and CEO of American Water Works Company.
American Water Works Company, Inc., known as American Water, is a publicly traded (NYSE: AWK) water utilities and sewage treatment company headquartered in Voorhees, New Jersey. It is the largest for-profit provider of water and wastewater services in the United States, where 86 percent of consumers receive their water services from publicly owned water systems. American Water has been a major force behind the privatization of water services and has come under fire from communities across the country for charging high rates and providing poor services.
In 2012, American Water generated $2.9 billion in total operating revenue.CMD estimates that approximately 89 percent of this revenue comes from taxpayers.
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Excerpt from a longer SourceWatch article on American Water Works Company, Inc.:
American Water Works Company, Inc.
American Water Works Company, Inc., known as American Water, is a publicly traded (NYSE: AWK) water utilities and sewage treatment company headquartered in Voorhees, New Jersey. It is the largest for-profit provider of water and wastewater services in the United States where 86 percent of consumers receive their water services from public municipal water systems. According to American Water's 2012 Annual Report, it supplies "an estimated 14 million people with drinking water, wastewater and other water-related services in over 30 states and two Canadian provinces" and employs approximately 6,700 as of 2012. American Water has been a major force behind the privatization of water services and has come under fire from communities across the country for charging high rates and providing poor services. In 2012, American Water generated $2.9 billion in total operating revenue. CEO Jeffrey Sterba has made over $8 million in the three years he has headed up the company.
In 2011, Citigroup economist Willem Buiter predicted that "water as an asset class will, in my view, become eventually the single most important physical-commodity based asset class, dwarfing oil, copper, agricultural commodities and precious metals." But some American cities are fighting this commodification of precious water resources and have engaged in successful campaign to take back or "municipalize" public water utilities.
Southwest Chicago Suburbs Sue for Control of the Lake Michigan Water Pipeline - The suburbs of Bolingbrook, Romeoville, Woodridge, Lemont, and Homer Glen, Illinois joined together in suing American Water subsidiary, American Lake Water Co., to seize control of the Lake Michigan water pipeline. Significant rate increases and additional costs are cited as the reason the cities want to regain control of their water utilities and the Lake Michigan pipeline.
The website Chicagometrowaterfacts.com PR campaign is run by American Water and is registered to an American Water technical contact according to a website domain search.
Recently, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of the award-winning ALECexposed.org, launched OutsourcingAmericaExposed.org, a web resource devoted to helping taxpayers identify the corporations seeking to privatize public assets and services in their communities: including their schools, roads, prisons, drinking water, court systems, and more.
CMD has unveiled corporate profiles of America’s most notorious corporations that are quietly working with state and local lawmakers to take over public services with little accountability, along with in-depth examinations of the CEOs personally profiting from this corporate coup.
For this report, which focuses on ALEC’s 2013 legislative agenda, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) researched five areas: 1) Voter ID and Stand Your Ground legislation, 2) wages and worker rights, 3) public education, 4) the environment, and 5) citizen access to the courts. Research continues on other areas of ALEC’s agenda.
Read the full report with charts of ALEC bills here.
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