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Bill Moyers Exposes the Stranglehold the Corporate & Right-Wing Alliance Has on Our Democracy

A special report from the legendary veteran journalist on the American Legislative Exchange Council.
 
 
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This week,  Moyers & Company reports on the most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has  never heard of —  ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. A national consortium of state politicians and powerful corporations, ALEC presents itself as a “nonpartisan public-private partnership”. But behind that mantra lies a vast network of corporate lobbying and political action aimed to increase corporate profits at public expense without public knowledge. Using interviews, documents, and field reporting, the episode explores ALEC’s self-serving machine at work, acting in a way one Wisconsin politician describes as “a corporate dating service for lonely legislators and corporate special interests.” In state houses around the country, hundreds of pieces of boilerplate ALEC legislation are proposed or enacted that would, among other things, dilute collective bargaining rights, make it harder for some Americans to vote, and limit corporate liability for harm caused to consumers — each accomplished without the public ever knowing who’s behind it. “All of us here are very familiar with ALEC and the influence that ALEC has with many of the [legislative] members,” says Arizona State Senator Steve Farley. “Corporations have the right to present their arguments, but they don’t have the right to do it secretly.” Watch the broadcast on Friday on your local PBS station. 

Visit BillMoyers.com to find your local listings.

Watch a preview from the broadcast: In Wisconsin, Lisa Graves, a former Justice Department attorney now with the Center for Media and Democracy, shares documentation of various ALEC-inspired boilerplate laws, versions of which are showing up in statehouses across the country.

Democracy Now! premiered the special video report on Thursday. What follows is a transcript of Moyers' special report on ALEC. 

AMY GOODMAN: We begin our show today with a look at the secretive American Legislative Exchange Council. The organization, often known as just  ALEC, brings together major corporations and state legislators to craft and vote on "model" bills behind closed doors. It’s come under increasing scrutiny for its role in promoting "stand your ground" gun laws, voter suppression bills, union-busting policies and other controversial legislation. The organization’s agenda has sparked so much controversy that 40 major U.S. companies, including Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, Kraft and General Motors, have recently severed ties with  ALEC.

ALEC is the focus of a new documentary by the legendary journalist Bill Moyers titled  The United States of  ALEC. It will air this weekend on  Moyers & Companybut is premiering today here on  Democracy Now!

STATE REPSTEVE FARLEY: I’ve often told people that I talk to out on the campaign trail, when they say, "State what?" when I say I’m running for state legislature, I tell them that the decisions that are made here in the legislature are often more important for your everyday life than the decisions the president makes.

JOHN NICHOLS: If you really want to influence the politics of this country, you don’t just give money to presidential campaigns, you don’t just give money to congressional campaign committees. Smart players put their money in the states.

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: ALEC has forged a unique partnership between state legislators and leaders from the corporate and business community. This partnership offers businessmen the extraordinary opportunity to apply their talents to solve our nation’s problems and build on our opportunities.

LISA GRAVES: I was stunned at the notion that politicians and corporate representatives, corporate lobbyists, were actually voting behind closed doors on these changes to the law before they were introduced in statehouses across the country.

 
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