Monday, September 30, 2013

ALEC front man indicted for corruption in Georgia

Remember when loony Georgia state lawmakers tried to make it a felony not just to picket, but to conspire to picket? Fortunately that attack on basic rightswas defeated by our brothers and sisters at Local 728 in Atlanta, along with the Tea Party, faith leaders, community groups and other labor unions.

Well, Sen. Don Balfour was one of the leaders of that attack. He's a front man for ALEC, the corporate dating service for state lawmakers. 

Or used to be. Now he's been indicted on 18 counts of corruption, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Jim Galloway writes:
A Fulton County grand jury has indicted state Sen. Don Balfour, R-Snellville, on 18 counts associated with alleged misuse of his legislative expense account, the Attorney General's office said Friday.
He also accepted money from ALEC:
The American Legislative Exchange Council awarded “scholarships” totaling $4,792 to Balfour from 2005 to 2009, records show. Corporate donors — including petroleum, pharmaceutical, utility, tobacco and health-care interests — funded the scholarships, which were meant to cover the costs of airfare and lodging to attend ALEC functions. The donations generally are not disclosed as lobbyist gifts, since ALEC does not have a registered lobbyist in Georgia.
It's unclear whether accepting those gifts (or lying about them) was part of the indictment.

That bill to criminalize picketing, by the way, was an ALEC bill. Jobs With Justice reported last year:
Georgia State Senator Don Balfour recently proposed legislation (SB 469) aimed at destroying labor unions, debilitating effective dissent and criminalizing planned peaceful direct action....The bill shares characteristics of model legislation from ALEC, an out-of-state, secretive, corporate-funded council that hands state legislators laws designed to benefit CEOs.
Let's just say we hope justice is served.