Archive for April 4, 2012
Prompted by a petition campaign by the progressive advocacy group Color of Change, Coca-Cola has pulled its support from ALEC, a right-wing corporate-funded front group which has been pushing voter restriction efforts around the country. The company released this statement moments ago:
The Coca-Cola Company has elected to discontinue its membership with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Our involvement with ALEC was focused on efforts to oppose discriminatory food and beverage taxes, not on issues that have no direct bearing on our business. We have a long-standing policy of only taking positions on issues that impact our Company and industry.
Impressively, Coke’s retreat came just five hours after Color of Change announced its petition, which read: “ALEC has pushed voter ID laws which disenfranchise large numbers of Black voters. Along with the NRA, ALEC also pushed a bill based on Florida’s ‘shoot first’ law – which has shielded Trayvon Martin’s killer from justice – into two dozen states across the country.”
ALEC charges corporations such as Koch Industries Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and The Coca-Cola Co. a fee and gives them access to members of state legislatures. Under ALEC’s auspices, legislators, corporate representatives, and ALEC officials work together to draft model legislation. As ALEC spokesperson Michael Bowman told NPR, this system is especially effective because “you have legislators who will ask questions much more freely at our meetings because they are not under the eyes of the press, the eyes of the voters.”
Democracy lovers, below is an article that lays out how to do a FOI request to expose legislators who belong to ALEC. We already know that in Iowa, all House members’ ALEC dues are paid automatically at taxpayer expense. House members have to opt out, rather than opt in. At last check, every Democrat had opted out of ALEC except one, Brian Quirk of New Hampton. But this is not the case for Republicans who as of last session were all members of ALEC including Governor Branstad (founding member). In the Iowa senate, dues are not automatically paid out of taxpayer money, so we do not have any idea who belongs to ALEC.
The following is an excerpt from an article from PoliticsUSA by Dennis S., who used a FOI request in South Carolina.
“Here’s what needs to be included in an FOI request: it should be mailed to one of the legislative chairs of the state ALEC organization. [BFIA Editor's Note: In Iowa Rep. Linda J. Miller is listed on the ALEC website as state chair] http://www.alec.org/about-alec/state-chairmen/
find her info. here: http://www3.legis.state.ia.us/ga/member.do?id=6487
Send your FOI through the postal service. Your letter must identify it as a Freedom of Information request. Mail it to his/her legislative office address.
If possible, try to research state ethics filings or whatever heading applies, to learn of any ALEC trips, fees, gifts and reimbursements that involve the object of your request. It will be helpful in formulating your FOI.
An FOI request is for paper records and documents. Always include requests for hard-copy documentation to be mailed by the postal service to your enclosed home address. It is helpful to put a time limit on your request as well.
Caveat: If money is an issue (of course it is). You will likely be charged fees for processing, research, copies, etc. You should include a fee waiver request in your letter based on why the FOI answers regarding the operation of state government would be of significance to the general public.
Good luck fellow believers in democracy.”