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DeVos, Koch, Scaife, Walton, ALEC, AFC: The Corporate Royalists and Right-Wing Groups Propelling the GOP's Assault on the Middle Class

A handful of rich, right-wing families and corporate chieftains are dedicated to returning America to the days when robber barons ruled.

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What do corporations get for their tax-deductible donations? A greased skid for sliding their wish list into the laws of multiple states. ALEC is something of a speed dating service. It holds three national conferences a year, plus convening issue-specific policy sessions in 20 to 30 state capitols annually. These are cozy sessions that conveniently gather groups of legislators to meet in private with corporate executives. The two groups schmooze together and develop bills to help extend corporate power over workers, consumers, environmentalists, and others--then the lawmakers go back home to pass the corporations' bills.

ALEC is the ultimate back room for corporate-legislative collusion. Its promotional brochure describes it as a dynamic partnership "that will define the American political landscape of the 21st century."

That's no empty threat. ALEC's tête-à-têtes result in about 1,000 bills being introduced across America every legislative session, and an ALEC official proudly adds, "We usually pass about 200 bills a year." And what pieces of work they are! For example:

  • Even before Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker took office this January, ALEC agents were handing him model bills for clubbing teachers and other public employees. Pushing ALEC's attack from inside the legislature were Wisconsin state Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, the rancorous, union-busting majority leader who was ALEC's state chairman last year, and state Rep. Robin Vos, the house budget slasher who heads ALEC's state organization this year. Likewise, governors in Indiana, Maine, Michigan, and Ohio have backed anti-union legislation this year that closely resembles ALEC's 'model' bills.
  • In 2009, ALEC drew up the Voter ID Act to ban university students from using their college-issued ID's as proof of residency for voting. Seven states have adopted this model law, which is intended to bar eligible students from the voting booth. These kids must be disenfranchised, New Hampshire's house speaker bluntly said in February, because they're "voting liberal, voting their feelings, with no life experience." This model bill has been introduced in 18 other states this year in a rather obvious ploy to hold down the student vote in the 2012 presidential election.
  • Arizona's infamous anti-Latino immigration law was crafted at an ALEC conference. The state senate leader who sponsored the bill was in the meeting, as was an eager executive from Corrections Corporation of America, the private prison operation that stands to get a nice business boost from Arizona's law.
  • Numerous state bills have been filed to kill, dilute, or withdraw from Obama's universal healthcare reform. Many bear remarkably similar wording, perhaps because they were drawn from a special report churned out by the 'nonpartisan' ALEC, entitled "The State Legislators Guide to Repealing ObamaCare."
  • One of ALEC's specialties is developing state laws to stop citizens from interfering with corporate whim. For example, when various communities began outlawing the use of genetically altered seeds in their area, ALEC rushed out a model bill to remove local control of seeds--11 states have passed it. Also with such climate-change deniers as Koch and Exxon funding ALEC and sitting on its board, you can guess why this corporate policy front has produced more than 800 draft measures against regulating global warming emissions--and, at least six states are considering bills nearly identical to ALEC's draft resolution for "state withdrawal from regional climate initiatives."

The big lie

Something unconscionable is at work here, something that is shameful, unworthy of our people, and directly contradictory to our country's founding ideals. The richest, most powerful, most privileged people in our land--in cahoots with a horde of the least principled, most venal political opportunists in civic life-- are intentionally savaging the well-being of America's majority and aggressively suppressing the democratic rights that make America America. And for what? Solely for themselves, for the aggrandizement of their own wealth and power.

 
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