Aug 7, 2013 Comments Off on Corporate lobbying group draws fire
A broad coalition of labor, community, environmental and faith groups will protest the 40th anniversary annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC.
The meeting takes place August 7 to 9 at the Palmer House, 17 E. Monroe; the rally takes place there on Thursday, August 8 at 12 noon.
Long a major but shadowy behind-the-scenes player, ALEC came to prominence in the aftermath of Trayvon Martin’s killing, when the group’s role working with the NRA to promote Stand Your Ground legislation became known.
With funding by major corporations and membership by one-third of the nation’s state legislators, ALEC provides model legislation in a wide array of areas.
The group joins corporate America’s economic agenda with a right -wing social agenda, according to In These Times editor Joel Bleifuss. He joined Rey Lopez-Calderon of Common Cause and Brian Echols of Concerned Black Men on a recent episode of Chicago Newsroom to discuss ALEC. (Watch it here.)
“They’re a great example of the power of Corporate America in American politics,” Bleifuss says.
In 2011 In These Times first exposed ALEC’s use of model bills — despite its tax exempt status which prohibits legislative activity — to undermine public employee unions and privatize government.
Charge tax fraud
“We think it’s tax fraud,” Lopez-Calderon says. Common Cause and the Center for Media and Democracy recently filed a complaint with the IRS charging ALEC with filing fraudulent tax returns.
ALEC has gone after collective bargaining rights, clean energy legislation, and campaign finance reform, Newsroom panelists relate. The group is behind a series of restrictive voter ID laws as well as SB 1070, Arizona’s controversial “Show Your Papers” law.
Echols notes that, on behalf of private prison corporations, ALEC has pushed the War on Drugs’ harsh sentencing laws, targetting African Americans and vastly increasing the nation’s prison population. Now they’re pushing laws that will increase the detention of immigrants on behalf of the same corporations, Lopez-Calderon notes.
“They’ve viewed this as a long-term way for corporations to make money,” he says, adding that ALEC helped create the Corrections Corporation of America.