Read

Search form

A.L.E.C. Launches Ultra-Conservative Lobby Group to Corrupt Government At Local Level

A.L.E.C. Launches Ultra-Conservative Lobby Group to Corrupt Government At Local Level
Fri, 8/1/2014 - by Ed Pilkington
This article originally appeared on The Guardian

The corporate lobbying network American Legislative Exchange Council, commonly known as ALEC, is seeking to extend its brand of aggressive privatization and tax cuts to the local level, with the launch on Wednesday of a new offshoot focused on America’s cities and counties.

The new network, the American City County Exchange (ACCE), held its first public meeting in Dallas, Texas, on Wednesday. It was timed to sit alongside ALEC’s annual meeting at which the parent body debated its usual menu of conservative priorities – pushing back government regulation, fighting moves to curb climate change, reducing trade union powers and cutting taxes.

A similar emphasis is evident in the first agenda set for the new offshoot, with the distinction that ACCE hopes to influence elected officials in city and county councils while ALEC has its sights largely set on state legislatures.

An early draft of the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting revealingly listed ACCE’s very first workshop under the simple title: “Privatization” – though in the final version the wording had been sanitized into: “Effective Tools for Promoting Limited Government.”

A later workshop scheduled for Thursday was called: “Releasing Local Governments from the Grip of Collective Bargaining.”

ALEC has been described variously as a “corporate bill mill” and as a “corporate dating service.” It brings together lobbyists for big businesses and elected politicians into the same room, and encourages them to frame business-friendly legislation that is then made concrete in the form of model pieces of legislation that are disseminated in state assemblies throughout the country.

The new network, ACCE, will follow the same basic structure, with corporate lobbyists introduced through the organization to elected city and county council members with the aim of promoting policies advantageous to those companies. Big businesses are asked to pay up to $25,000 a year for the privilege of having such direct and intimate input into the legislative process.

In recent months ALEC has suffered a loss of income and membership after it became engulfed in controversy over its backing for “stand-your-ground” laws. The lobbying network was sharply criticized for helping to spread around the country such laws – which give gun owners the right to use deadly force outside the home should they have a reasonably belief that they are in great danger – in the wake of the shooting in Florida of the black teenager Trayvon Martin.

The Guardian disclosed in December that Alec had initiated a “prodigal son project” aimed at attracting back corporate donors that had broken off ties as a result of the “stand-your-ground” furor.

Critics of the organization fear that Alec’s drive towards anti-government policies at state level will now be replicated in cities throughout the country. “Through the new network ACCE, we are likely to see big corporations trying to extend their influence down to the very local level. For relatively little investment, corporations stand not only to have a very big influence over city politicians, but they could also make a lot of money through privatization of public services,” said Nick Surgey, director of research at The Progressive that monitors ALEC’s activities.

Dissent in Conservative Ranks

ALEC’s annual meeting opened in Dallas amid renewed debate about the direction that many Republican-held state legislatures are moving, partly under the encouragement of the lobbying network. The most contentious current example is Kansas, where the Republican governor Sam Brownback introduced earlier this year the largest tax cut in the state’s history.

The tax cuts have left the state with a budget hole that some predictions suggest could reach almost $800 million by 2017. The prospect of massive cuts to public services has prompted a backlash, with 104 present or former Republican officeholders in the state putting out a joint statement earlier this month in which they expressed alarm about the Brownback plan and said they were endorsing his Democratic rival for governor, Paul Davis.

The Brownback tax cuts were devised on the advice of the economist Arthur Laffer. He is the co-author of ALEC’s annual report, Rich States, Poor States, that ranks each state in the country according to a set of conservative standards including low taxes, limited trade union rights and reduced regulations.

Laffer is also centrally involved in the launch of ALEC’s new city initiative. On Thursday he was to be guest of honor at the ACCE lunch.

Surgey said that city-based politicians needed to be wary of the new network. “Under ACCE’s influence, local councils will see more privatization, more public services sold off or cut, and decision-making increasingly in the hands of large corporations far away.”

But Todd Grayson, a city council politician from Perrysburg, Ohio, who is a founding member of ACCE, said the ambition was to increase the efficiency of public services by learning about best practices from all over the country. Though he added: “Clearly, our goal in ACCE is limited government.”

Originally published by The Guardian

Add new comment

Sign Up

Article Tabs

climate change denial, Carbon Washington, American Legislative Exchange Council, carbon tax, solar subsidies, solar tax breaks, fracking bans

These ballot measures are noteworthy because they don’t just regulate emissions or mandate transitions – they help the economically insecure, create incentives for individual change, and reassert local authority over corporate polluters.

Black Lives Matter, Movement for Black Lives, Black Panthers, Black Panther Party, Organization for Black Struggle, food pantries, community service, Michael Brown, Ferguson protests, Black Power Movement, OurStory, Black Youth Project 100, racial justice

Nearly two years after people took to the streets in Ferguson to protest the killing of Michael Brown, the nationwide movement has broadened its focus to community empowerment in ways reminiscent of the Black Panthers of the 60s.

water privatization, Nestlé, water grabs, Community Water Justice, water conflict, Fryeburg, Maine, Peter Gleick, water bottling, Cascade Locks

The Swiss corporation Nestlé has a penchant for gobbling up huge areas of freshwater across the planet and bottling it for profit – even as judges, courts, cities and entire regions try to stand in their way.

Take On Wall Street, break up the banks, too big to fail, financial transactions tax, 21st century Glass-Steagall, carried interest tax loophole, Dodd-Frank Act,

In launching a new coalition to reign in the power of the big banks, Warren warned said taxpayers still may have to bail them out: “Dodd-Frank imposed some discipline, but let’s get real. Dodd-Frank did not end too big to fail.”

Some of the biggest issues facing our country are forgotten once the cameras switch off, but our ADD news cycle only makes us more vulnerable to repeat disasters like the Flint water crisis.

climate change, global warming, Break Free from Fossil Fuels, climate protests, global climate movement, Carbon Brief, carbon emissions, climate arrests, British Petroleum, BP, Enbridge, Flood Wall Street, People's Climate March, risking arrest, civil dis

My arrest didn’t feel like a risk, it felt like a transaction. I’ve found freedom in facing my fears and dispensing with false choices.

Posted 5 days 6 hours ago
Nestle water grab, water privatization, Columbia River Gorge, Cascade Locks

Voters in one Oregon county last week approved a ban on commercial bottled water production, stopping a years-long effort by Swiss transnational Nestle to sell over 100 million gallons of water a year from the Columbia River Gorge.

Posted 5 days 7 hours ago
water privatization, Nestlé, water grabs, Community Water Justice, water conflict, Fryeburg, Maine, Peter Gleick, water bottling, Cascade Locks

The Swiss corporation Nestlé has a penchant for gobbling up huge areas of freshwater across the planet and bottling it for profit – even as judges, courts, cities and entire regions try to stand in their way.

Posted 1 day 21 hours ago

Some of the biggest issues facing our country are forgotten once the cameras switch off, but our ADD news cycle only makes us more vulnerable to repeat disasters like the Flint water crisis.

Posted 3 days 2 hours ago
wealth inequality, income inequality, wealth gap, growing poverty, growing disparity

After 35 years of wealth distribution to the super-rich, inequality has forced much of the middle class towards the bottom, to near-poverty levels, and to a state of helplessness in which they find themselves being blamed for their own misfortunes.

Posted 3 days 3 hours ago
single-payer healthcare, Obamacare, Affodable Care Act, public option, health insurance industry, health insurance companies

There's a not-insignificant amount of evidence that when you strip out the names of parties and candidates, support for government-run insurance cuts across partisan lines – and most Americans want a single-payer healthcare system.

Black Lives Matter, Movement for Black Lives, Black Panthers, Black Panther Party, Organization for Black Struggle, food pantries, community service, Michael Brown, Ferguson protests, Black Power Movement, OurStory, Black Youth Project 100, racial justice

Nearly two years after people took to the streets in Ferguson to protest the killing of Michael Brown, the nationwide movement has broadened its focus to community empowerment in ways reminiscent of the Black Panthers of the 60s.

Take On Wall Street, break up the banks, too big to fail, financial transactions tax, 21st century Glass-Steagall, carried interest tax loophole, Dodd-Frank Act,

In launching a new coalition to reign in the power of the big banks, Warren warned said taxpayers still may have to bail them out: “Dodd-Frank imposed some discipline, but let’s get real. Dodd-Frank did not end too big to fail.”

Austrian elections, Alexander Van der Bellen, Austrian Green Party, far-right governments, Norbert Hofer, Freedom Party, anti-immigrant sentiment, xenophobia, migrant crisis

Alexander Van der Bellen, an independent candidate backed by the Austrian Green Party, fought neck and neck with far-right Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer and scratched out a narrow victory in the historic election.

climate change denial, climate deniers, Donald Trump, rising sea levels, carbon emissions

The billionaire who called global warming a hoax is now warning of its dire effects in his company's application to build a sea wall to protect Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland in County Clare.