Corporate dollars are funding changes in state laws that disenfranchise voters, and weaken regulations designed to protect the environment. Those dollars are flowing through the Arizona desert this week as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) convenes to draw up more legislation it wants passed in state legislatures.
To highlight what ALEC is doing, groups including Common Cause, People for the American Way, the Center for Media and Democracy, the Arizona AFL-CIO, AFSCME, the American Federation of Teachers, the Arizona Education Association, and Progress Now held a press conference Wednesday in front of the Arizona state capitol.
“ALEC’s leaders, firms like Wal-Mart, Pfizer and Koch Industries, have poured close to $400 million into state elections over the past decade, financing campaigns and spoon-feeding our elected officials bills that put profits over the public interest,” said Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause, citing a recent Common Cause report. “The Arizona desert is a perfect place for the public to call them out.”
ALEC’s agenda includes weakening clean air and clean water laws, undercutting public education, and disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of legally-qualified voters. At closed-to-the-public meetings like this week’s confab at the posh Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, ALEC’s business executives, lobbyists, and elected lawmakers sit side by side and vote as equals on the group’s “model” bills, then carry that legislation back to state capitols across the nation.
ALEC puts its stamp of approval on hundreds of pieces of legislation each year and claims an annual success rate of about 20 percent. Almost all of the group’s $7 million annual budget, including the cost of conferences like this week’s gathering, is underwritten by its corporate affiliates.