Monday, July 18, 2011

Vast Corporate Conspiracy to Mold State Legislation Unveiled

From: Move to Amend <>
Sent: July 14, 2011 12:23 PM
Subject: Vast Corporate Conspiracy to Mold State Legislation Unveiled

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"We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling
in Citizens United, and Move to Amend our Constitution."

Sign the Petition:
* * *
The Center for Media and Democracy (a Move to Amend founding partner) has obtained copies of more than
800 model bills approved by corporations through ALEC meetings, after one of the thousands of people with
access shared them, and a whistleblower provided a copy to the Center. They have analyzed and marked-up
those bills and made them available at  ALEC Exposed

About ALEC Exposed

An open letter from CMD's Executive Director, Lisa Graves
ALEC ExposedIn April 2011, some of the biggest corporations in the U.S. met behind closed doors
in Cincinnati about their wish lists for changing state laws.  This exchange was part
of a series of corporate meetings nurtured and fueled by the Koch Industries family
fortune and other corporate funding.

At an extravagant hotel gilded just before the Great Depression, corporate executives
from the tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds, State Farm Insurance, and other corporations
were joined by their "task force" co-chairs -- all Republican state legislators -- to
approve “model” legislation. They jointly head task forces of what is called the “American
Legislative Exchange Council” (ALEC).

There, as the Center for Media and Democracy has learned, these corporate-politician
committees secretly voted on bills to rewrite numerous state laws. According to the
documents we have posted to ALEC Exposed, corporations vote as equals with elected politicians on these bills.
These task forces target legal rules that reach into almost every area of American life: worker and consumer
rights, education, the rights of Americans injured or killed by corporations, taxes, health care, immigration, and
the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink.

The Center obtained copies of more than 800 model bills approved by companies through ALEC meetings, after
one of the thousands of people with access shared them, and a whistleblower provided a copy to the Center.
Those bills, which the Center has analyzed and marked-up, are now available at ALEC Exposed.

The bills that ALEC corporate leaders, companies and politicians voted on this spring now head to a luxury hotel
in New Orleans' French Quarter for ALEC’s national retreat on August 3rd. In New Orleans, Koch Industries --
through its chief lobbyist -- and lobbyists of other global companies are slated for a “joint board meeting” with a
rookery of Republican legislators who are on ALEC's public board. Before the bills are publicly introduced in state
legislatures by ALEC politicians or alumni in the governor’s offices, they will be cleansed of any reference to the
secret corporate voting or who really wrote them.

With CMD’s publication of the bills, the public can now pierce through some of the subterfuge about ALEC, and
see beyond the names of the bills to what the bills really do, alongside the names of corporations that lead or
have helped lead ALEC's agenda and accompanied by analysis to help decode the bills.

Many of the bills have obvious financial benefits for corporations but little or no direct benefit to the constituents
that a particular legislator was elected to represent. Still, it may be tempting to dismiss ALEC as merely
institutionalizing business as usual for lobbyists, except that ALEC’s tax-free donations are linked to it not spending
a substantial amount of time on lobbying to change the law. ALEC has publicly claimed its “unparalleled” success
in terms of the number of model bills introduced and enacted. But seeing the text of the bills helps reveal the
actual language of legal changes ALEC corporations desire, beyond what can be known by the PR in their titles.
ALEC says it has created a “unique” partnership between corporations and politicians. And it has.

It is a worrisome marriage of corporations and politicians, which seems to normalize a kind of corruption of the
legislative process -- of the democratic process--in a nation of free people where the government is supposed
to be of, by, and for the people, not the corporations.

The full sweep of the bills and their implications for America’s future, the corporate voting, and the extent of the
corporate subsidy of ALEC's legislation laundering all raise substantial questions. These questions should
concern all Americans. They go to the heart of the health of our democracy and the direction of our country.
When politicians -- no matter their party -- put corporate profits above the real needs of the people who elected
them, something has gone very awry.
As President Teddy Roosevelt observed in response to corporate money corrupting the democratic process a
century ago, "The true friend of property, the true conservative, is he who insists that property shall be the
servant and not the master of the commonwealth . . . . The citizens of the United States must effectively control
the mighty commercial forces which they have called into being."
ALEC anointed the billionaire Koch Brothers as two of the first few recipients of its “Adam Smith Free Enterprise
Award.” Smith argued that self-interest promoted more good in society than those who intend to do good.
"Greed is good!" is how Oliver Stone translated this concept to fiction on screen.

On that score, perhaps, the award was apt, except that ALEC apparently ignores Smith’s caution that bills and
regulations from business must be viewed with the deepest skepticism. In his book, ''Wealth of Nations'', Smith
urged that any law proposed by businessmen “ought always to be listened to with great precaution . . . It comes
from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an
interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both
deceived and oppressed it."

One need not look far in the ALEC bills to find reasons to be deeply concerned and skeptical.Take a look for yourself.
--Lisa Graves, Director, Center for Media and Democracy
(and Move to Amend Executive Committee Member)

P.S. This weekend, on July 16 and 17, Americans in more than 1,500 cities, towns and neighborhoods will
host house meetings to share stories, shape a new Contract for the AmericanDream, and set our priorities
for how we can work together as a movement to fix our economy and rebuild the American Dream.

Move to Amend asks you to attend a meeting in your community, and invite others there to join our coalition.
Bring Move to Amend petitions with you
, and make the case for why Move to Amend's proposal to amend the
Constitution to abolish corporate personhood and make real the promise of American democracy needs to be
part of the "Contract for the American Dream." You can submit ideas for the new Contract here.

Move to Amend
P.O. Box 260217
Madison, WI 53726-0217
United States
End Corporate Rule. Legalize Democracy. Move to Amend.
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