Big corporations looking to fast track anti-worker state laws to score huge corporate pay-offs should look no further than ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. After donating millions of dollars to ALEC, it seems corporate executives can basically write their own legislation. Read the fact sheet to learn more.
Corporations Cut Out the Middlemen and Write Their Own Laws Big corporations looking to fast track anti-worker state laws to score huge corporate ALEC’s Greatest Hits pay-offs should look no further than ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. After donating millions of dollars to ALEC, it seems corporate executives1 Big Oil Enlists ALEC’s Help can basically write their own legislation. Since 2001, ExxonMobile has given ALEC $1.1 million in contributions, with a signifi- cant portion specifically earmarked to deal ALEC’s legislative members introduce about 1,000 bills a year and get over 20 with climate change issues. ALEC sent percent of them passed into law.2 One of ALEC’s primary functions is the develop- legislators home with reports and model ment of model legislation and reports that will later be used by state legislators to legislation that claimed ‘the science of advance conservative principles. Highlights include providing “model” legislation climate change is unsettled’ and questioned that would give corporations immunity from certain environmental laws and3 issuing the role of ‘human activities’ in climate reports recommending that senior citizens should be forced to mortgage their change.13 homes to pay for medical bills.4 Protecting Corporate Polluters Additionally, as pointed out by one criminal justice advocacy organization, “[b] The ALEC environmental issues task force y funding and participating in ALEC’s [task forces], private prison companies can approved model legislation to give corpo- directly influence legislation related to sentencing; [as an example], harsh sentenc- rations immunity from prosecution under ing laws sending more people to prison for longer.”.5 environmental laws.14 ALEC claims to be non-partisan, but a look at their board and task force leaders Big Banks Profit on Senior Citizens call that claim into question: 87 percent of board members and 97 percent of task In 2004, ALEC suggested that governments force leaders are Republicans.6 mandate senior citizens mortgage their homes to pay for medical bills freeing up $2 Not only do corporations, non-profits, and public policy organizations make up 45 trillion in home equity Americans worked percent7 of ALEC’s membership but they provide most of the organization’s operating their lives for.15 budget. In 2008, corporate members and special interest donors were responsible Giving Corporations a Free Pass for $5.6 Million of ALEC’s total $6.9 Million in revenue.8 A 2010 report by the American Association of Justice revealed that Crown Cork & Seal SB 1070 – ALEC’s Blockbuster Bill of the Year purchased a manufacturer of asbestos in Arizona’s infamous SB 1070 has been a top news story for months. The bill the 1960s – knowing the danger of asbestos requires local law enforcement to stop anyone they suspect of being in the country and the potential claims that could result. illegally. Progressive groups around the country have called this an invitation for Crown with ALEC’s help pushed legislation harassment and discrimination against Hispanics regardless of their citizenship granting immunity in 13 states and limiting status. liability awards in 9 others.16 An early version of the bill was first submitted for review to ALEC’s Public Safety Keeping Prisons Full and Taxpayer and Elections Task Force in December 2009, where both Arizona Senator Russell Dollars Rolling In Pearce9 and Laurie Shanblum, a top executive at Corrections Corporation of Ameri- Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) ca sit on the executive committee.10 wanted to make sure it’s prison beds stayed full so the company helped craft “three As uncovered by the magazine In These Times, a ALEC’s spokesperson explained strikes” and “minimum sentencing”. Keep- that the “model legislation that emerged from Pearce’s ALEC task force in early ing prisoners in jail longer keeps profits January is virtually identical to the bill introduced by Pearce in the Arizona Legis- rolling in.17 lature later that month.”11 More Corporate Members 18 BlueCross BlueShield CCA stands to reap huge profits from the Arizona bill. Despite Arizona’s projected Phillip Morris International $2 Billion budget shortfall, the Governor of State of Arizona has proposed a bud- Wal-Mart get that sets aside $98 Million to pay for the likely additional detainees expected Time Warner Cable to flood the system - $40 Million of that windfall is allotted to go to private prison AT&T corporations.12 State Farm Similar legislation has been proposed in 22 states. As the largest private prison 11. http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/6084/corpo- rate_con_game corporation in the country and the leading recipient of federal immigration 12. http://www.arizonaeducationnetwork.com/2010/03/ detainee contracts from the federal government, taxpayers could end up handing house-senate-appropriations-committees-begin-work-on- over billions of dollars to CCA and other private prison corporations. seventh-special-session-bills/ 13. American Association for Justice, “ALEC: Ghostwrit- 1. http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/6084/corporate_con_game/ ing the Law for Corporate America,” May 2010 2. Atlanta Constitution-Journal, 7/17/09 14. Defenders of Wildlife & the Natural Resources De- 3. Defenders of Wildlife & the Natural Resources Defense Council, “Corporate America’s Trojan Horse in the fense Council, “Corporate America’s Trojan Horse in the States: The Untold Story Behind the American Legislative States: The Untold Story Behind the American Legislative Exchange Council,” Released 2/28/02 Exchange Council,” Released 2/28/02 4. ABA Banking Journal, November 2004 15. ABA Banking Journal, November 2004 5. The Sentencing Project, “Prison Privatization and the Use of Incarceration,” September 2004 16. American Association for Justice, “ALEC: Ghostwrit- 6. American Legislative Exchange Council, “Board of Directors,” “ALEC State Chairmen” ing the Law for Corporate America,” May 2010 7. American Legislative Exchange Council, “2010 Advertising Guide,” accessed 7/6/10 17. The Sentencing Project, “Prison Privatization and the 8. http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/6084/corporate_con_game Use of Incarceration,” September 2004 9. http://www.alec.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Public_Sector_Executive_Committee2 18. American Legislative Exchange Council, “2010 Adver- tising Guide,” accessed 7/6/10 10. http://www.alec.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Private_Sector_Executive_Committee2
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