Tuesday, March 12, 2013

ALEC's insidious influence in Iowa exposed today

Iowa lawmakers may unknowingly belong to ALEC, the escort service for corporations and state lawmakers, according to a report released today in DesMoines by Progress Iowa.

The report also identified more than $520,000 in campaign donations to 13 GOP lawmakers and Gov. Terry Branstad by corporations associated with ALEC.

ALEC's powerful but secretive influence in Iowa has not received much attention. Progress Iowa's release of the report is intended to alert Iowans to ALEC's pro-corporate agenda of lowering wages, privatizing essential government services, weakening workers' rights, eradicating public education and eliminating consumer and environmental protections.

According to the report, the Iowa House's Republican leadership last year decided to sign up every representative as a member of ALEC, paying the dues with taxpayer dollars. At the beginning of this year, House Democrats asked to opt out of ALEC, but they can't find out if they're in or out.

The report notes,
Apparently House Republicans do not see the irony in dragooning legislators into involuntary ALEC membership by spending taxpayer dollars to send lawmakers out of state to meet with lobbyists or to access the ALEC model bills like the "Taxpayer Protection Act."
(There's also the irony of spending taxpayer dollars to support the ALEC-supporting Benedict Arnold Koch brothers' efforts to loot government and wipe out the middle class.)

Though ALEC membership is funded by taxpayers, ALEC refuses to reveal its members or the legislation it writes for corporations.

The DesMoines Register reported,

Eight bills introduced in the current legislative session have their origins in the “corporate bill mill” of the American Legislative Exchange Council, activists charged, while the group’s corporate sponsors have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to supportive lawmakers. 
“What this agenda is, is not a home-grown, Iowa agenda addressing the concerns and clamoring of Iowa constituents about what would make their lives better,” said Lisa Graves, executive director of the Wisconsin-based Center for Media and Democracy. “This is agenda crafted by some of the biggest corporations in the world.”
Progress Iowa is asking citizens to ask their representatives about their relationship to ALEC. For example, "Have you attended ALEC meetings in the past?" ALEC meetings are actually family vacations at lavish resorts, where politicians can meet wealthy corporate donors.

Here's another question:
If your ALEC-related travel was paid for by Iowa taxpayers, will you show us the receipts? 
Stay tuned. We'll let you know if they get any answers.