Posts Tagged ‘ALEC in Iowa’
Groups Expose Assault By ALEC Fossil Fuel & Utility Members on Clean Energy and Environmental Regulations
Through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), fossil fuel and utility interests are pushing a comprehensive agenda to eliminate environmental and public health regulations, and gut pro-clean energy policies across the country. ALEC’s Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force has proposed model legislation and is now appearing in state legislatures, to:
• Rollback renewable energy policies by weakening or eliminating Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS).
• Weaken solar net metering policies by gutting compensation for homeowners who transmit solar power to the electricity grid.
• Create loopholes in disclosure rules for hydraulic fracturing (fracking), allowing drilling companies to hide chemicals used in the controversial process from the public.
• Reject regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by the Environmental Protection Agency, allowing utilities to continue polluting our air and water.
There will be a tele-press briefing with pro-clean energy and environmental experts to hear about where ALEC’s pro-corporate energy agenda is appearing in state legislatures this year.
Who: Aliya Haq, Climate Program Special Projects Director, NRDC
Brant Olson, Campaigns Manager, Forecast the Facts
Connor Gibson, Reseacher, Greenpeace
Gabe Elsner, Executive Director, Energy & Policy Institute
Steve Horn, Research Fellow, DeSmogBlog
What: Tele-press conference call on ALEC’s fossil fuel and utility members’ comprehensive assault on clean energy and environmental regulations. Speakers will detail efforts happening now in state legislatures to gut clean air regulations, stop pro-clean energy policies, and restrict disclosure of fracking chemicals.
When: Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 1:30 PM CT
How: Reporters should register at http://bit.ly/1ez0voa to join the call.
DeSmogBlog exists to clear the PR pollution that is clouding the science on climate change.Energy & Policy Institute performs research and analysis on lobbyists, front groups, and politicians working to expand our reliance on fossil fuels and slow the development of a clean energy economy.Forecast the Facts is a grassroots movement to spread the truth about climate change. Greenpeace is the leading independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and to promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is a national environmental action group that combines the expertise of more than 350 lawyers, scientists and other professionals with the power of 1.4 million members and online activists.
Iowa House Democratic Leader Mark Smith (D-Marshalltown) sent a letter to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) today denouncing ALEC’s claim that all members of the Iowa Legislature are members of their organization.
“Last year, all 47 Democratic members of the Iowa House informed the Chief Clerk of the Iowa House that no dues or fees were to be paid to ALEC on our behalf and none of us have applied to ALEC for individual membership,” said Leader Smith. “In light of recent ALEC documents made public, we are deeply troubled that ALEC is currently listing us as members without our permission.”
ALEC is a self-described conservative “voluntary membership organization of state legislators.” The recently disclosed agenda of the August 6, 2013 board meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council lists all Iowa state legislators as ALEC members. ALEC is funded in large part by donations from corporations with interests before state legislatures.
“Since neither we nor the state has paid ALEC dues, we question who has paid the dues on our behalf. Further, we question why ALEC would accept payment of dues on behalf of legislators who clearly want no part of your organization,” said Rep. Smith. “If a corporation or other entity has paid dues to ALEC on behalf of Iowa state legislators, we believe such action likely constitutes a violation of Iowa ethics law.”
Rep. Smith demanded that all names of Iowa House Democrats be removed from ALEC membership lists and that ALEC disclose who paid for the Iowa memberships.
Below is the letter from Representative Mark Smith to ALEC:
Thursday, January 8, 2014
Ron Scheberle, Executive Director
American Legislative Exchange Council
2900 Crystal Drive, 6th Floor
Arlington, VA 22202
The recently disclosed agenda of the August 6, 2013 board meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) lists all Iowa state legislators as members. This is deeply troubling to me as a leader in the Iowa House of Representatives, especially since this information has been repeated many times in on-line blogs and news stories.
ALEC is self-described as a “voluntary membership organization of state legislators.” As we made clear to the Chief Clerk of the Iowa House on the opening day of session January 14, 2013, no House Democrats have applied to ALEC for membership nor do any of us wish to become members of ALEC. Since none of us have become a “voluntary member,” I am concerned about how we came to be listed as members.
The Iowa General Assembly pays membership dues to other organizations of state legislators, such as the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Council of State Governments, but does not pay dues to ALEC. Individual ALEC members pay $100 for a two-year membership. Since neither we nor the state has paid ALEC dues, I question who has paid the dues on our behalf. Further, I question why ALEC would accept payment of dues on behalf of legislators who clearly want no part of ALEC.
ALEC is funded in large part by donations from corporations with interests before state legislatures. Iowa ethics laws in most instances prohibit corporations with interests before the Iowa General Assembly to make expenditures to or on behalf of Iowa state legislators. If a corporation or other entity has paid dues to ALEC on behalf of Iowa state legislators, I believe such action likely constitutes a violation of Iowa ethics law.
Consequently, I ask you to take the following action:
Remove the names of Iowa House Democrats from the ALEC membership list.
Identify who paid our membership dues.
Explain why payment of ALEC dues can be made on behalf of a legislator without the legislator’s knowledge or consent.
If you misrepresented the status of Iowa legislators and we are not all considered ALEC members, I ask you to set the record straight by issuing a public clarification and by providing me with a list of those Iowa legislators who are actual dues-paying members of ALEC.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Rep. Mark Smith
Iowa House Democratic Leader
Article originally appeared in Iowa Federation of Labor News: http://iowalabornews.com
Americans usually associate large cash flows with lots of bling. But when it’s political money masquerading as grassroots politics, the result is much more obscure…hence the term Dark Money.
Thanks to funding from billionaire libertarian brothers David and Charles Koch, Americans for Prosperity is at the leading edge of dark money spending. In 2012, AFP spent more than $33.5 million against Obama’s re-election bid, but altogether $122 million in all races. This was five times what they spent during the 2010 Election cycle, before the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision opened the flood gates to unlimited and unaccountable political spending from outside groups like AFP.
Dark money has had such a tremendous influence on American politics in recent years that the Koch Brothers have become household names. However, because they organize as 501 (c)(4) organizations, income tax codes do not force them to disclose who funds them. Consequently, Dark Money has emerged as one of the greatest threats to the US experiment in Democracy.
Former Republican National Committee Chair Ed Gillespie used to be critical of the undue influence of outside groups on political competitions traditionally fought between the two parties. Gillespie criticized these groups in 2007 saying they, “run wild, unfettered, unregulated, not subject to the same rules and regulations as the national parties. And I think that’s been incredibly unhealthy.” Regardless of his initial reproach, after Citizen’s United passed in 2010, Gillespie and former Bush aid Karl Rove founded Crossroads GPS and American Crossroad, which together spend $325 million in the 2012 cycle.
Dark Money groups are now competing to become the largest spenders in politics. In the two years since Citizens United, Dark Monday was responsible for 1/3 of all money spent in Iowa during the 2012 Election Cycle, and most of these came from out of state. According to People for the American way, “groups federally registered outside of Iowa accounted for 96.21% of all outside [non-party] spending.”
Because the public generally disagrees with large corporations and rich individuals essentially buying elections, more and more often these groups are having to take stealth measures to hide behind a complex funding web, where money is not only flowing from rich individuals and corporations into the groups, the groups themselves often dole out cash to smaller organizations, spread across the states.
And more and more often these groups have moved beyond the national races and are getting involved locally, in statehouse and municipal races, or lobbying under the auspices of the State Policy Network, a web of 64 right-wing think tanks.
Disguised under names like Priorities for Iowa, Iowa Public Interest Institute, Citizens for Responsible Growth and Taxation, American Energy Alliance, American Future Fund, and Iowans for Freedom, these groups pose as if they were local, concerned citizen groups.
In October of this year, Americans for Prosperity spent large sums of money trying to influence the outcome of the Coralville election. The news of AFP getting involved in a local election in a town of fewer than 20,000 people was so shocking that it was on the cover of the New York Times and covered internationally by Al Jazeera.
But Iowa wasn’t the only example of big money is small town America. Dark money groups were also involved in ballot initiatives in Gahann, Ohio (pop. 33,000), and in Fremont, Nebraska (pol 26,000) to block tax increases. AFP has also been involved in statehouse races in Arkansas and Kansas, judicial contests in Florida and North Carolina, and a mayoral election in Lakeville, Minnesota.
The 2014 mid-term Election Cycle is gearing up to be an extraordinarily high-stakes competition. With Gubernatorial, Senate and Congressional races all up for grabs, prepare yourself for a deafening swirl of activity.
Please sign any of the various petitions supporting the Disclose Act and initiatives to pass a Constitutional Amendment overturning Citizens United (to learn more: Commoncause.org).
Lastly, when your friends, family or union brothers and sisters forward a Facebook post from Priorities for Iowa or any Dark Money funded astroturf group, ask them these questions:
1. Where is the organization’s money coming from?
2. If these organizations have Iowans’ interests at heart as they claim, why won’t they disclosure their donors?
Also, please contact your legislator as bills get debated in the 2014 Legislature:
1. Are you a member of ALEC?
2. Have you ever introduced, supported or voted for ALEC model legislation?
3. Has [INSERT LOCAL SPN THINK TANK] ever lobbied you on certain pieces of legislation or policy areas?
4. Do you support the mission of ALEC as an organization? Yes or No
5. If not will you take the following pledge:
The Right Priorities Pledge
I swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Iowa; and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of State Legislator to the best of my ability. I affirm that I will put my constituents first—before corporate interests and their lobbies. I affirm that I will hold this legislative seat and conduct all legislative business in the public light, honoring transparency and a commitment to full disclosure.
ALEC LEGISLATORS, PLEASE SIGN BELOW:
*BFIA post updated 10:41 am 12/5/13.
In documents released about the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) yesterday, it was revealed that Senator Bill Dix and Representative Linda Miller, as Iowa state chairs for ALEC, were asked to pledge,
“I will act with loyalty and put the interests of the organization first.”
“Newly revealed documents demonstrate that Representative Linda Upmeyer believes her first responsibility is to ALEC, above even her constituents. The loyalty oath for legislators proves ALEC’s true colors – corporate special interests first, citizens last. We call on Upmeyer and all ALEC members to publicly renounce the loyalty oath, retract their membership in this secretive corporate front group and instead work on behalf of their constituents.” – Matt Sinovic, Progress Iowa
[See BLOG FOR IOWA ACTION ALERT below.]
Here is a link to yesterday’s story in the Guardian.The state chair pledge is highlighted on page 20 of the embedded document: theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/03/alec-funding-crisis
And here is the ALEC website listing Dix and Miller as the Iowa chairs: alec.org/about-alec/state-chairmen/
ALEC – the American Legislative Exchange Council, is in D.C. this week for its “State and Nation Policy Summit” has been the moving force behind legislation including the Stand Your Ground laws that protect reckless killers, voter suppression schemes and laws to strip workers of their right to bargain collectively for fair wages, benefits and working conditions.
ALEC is funded by massive “donations,” from corporations who in return are given full voting rights in all decisions. Corporations draft legislation that directly benefits their bottom line, sit with legislators at ALEC conferences and vote on ALEC policy and legislation, then set the legislators loose to push these bills on their behalf in state governments around the country.
ALEC’s legislative agenda for 2014 includes plans to harass navigators who help uninsured Americans sign up for affordable health coverage and continue to push for a repeal of the minimum wage.
Matt Sinovic, Progress Iowa
BLOG FOR IOWA ACTION ALERT
BFIA Action Alert: We have a right to expect that our elected officials in Des Moines will represent the best interests of the people of Iowa, NOT the best interests of the Koch Brothers and their ALEC corporate friends.
If you live in Iowa Iowa Senate District 9 (Bill Dix), or Iowa House district 94 (Linda Miller), contact these two corporate shills and remind them that their loyalty is to you and your fellow constituents, not a lobbying group for the Koch Brothers. Scroll down for contact info.
Contact Senator Bill Dix here:
Legislative Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Home Phone: 319.885.6790
Cell Phone: 319.269.3664
Home Address: 317 S. Walnut Street, P.O. Box 220 Shell Rock IA, 50670
Contact Rep. Linda Miller here:
Legislative Email: email@example.com
Home Phone: 563.449.9956
Home Address: 6766 Ridges Court, Bettendorf IA, 52722
Capitol Phone: 515.281.3221
Business Phone: 563.650.9539
ProgressIowa.org has this:
Out-of-State Special Interest Group Students First Hires New Director to “Increase Presence” in Iowa
Students First has track record of supporting ALEC-Backed Education Proposals, Providing Financial Backing for Conservative Candidates, Involvement in Cheating and Anti-Gay Controversies
DES MOINES – Late last week, Students First announced hiring Patty Link, a former Des Moines School Board Member, as State Director, signaling an attempt to increase their presence in Iowa. In the past, Students First has promoted anti-union policies such as targeting collective bargaining laws, expanding charter schools and school vouchers, and working with anti-labor allies like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the conservative front-group, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Last fall, further cementing their conservative credentials, Student’s First provided over $350,000 in campaign contributions to defeat pro-public education legislative candidates in Iowa [italics BFIA's]. Nationally, Michelle Rhee, the Founder and CEO of Students First, has been embroiled in scandal, having been accused of failing to act to prevent “widespread cheating” while Chancellor of Washington, DC public schools.
More recently, Rhee and Students First honored Tennessee State Representative John Ragan as “Reformer of the Year” despite Ragan’s attempts to exempt “religious or political bullying” from a measure to prevent anti-gay harassment in schools. Ragan also co-sponsored legislation that would have forced teachers and school therapists to “out” students suspected of being gay to their parents.
“It is not surprising that Students First wants to attempt to expand their reach in Iowa after investing a considerable amount of money in last year’s elections. What is surprising is that former Des Moines School Board member and co-owner of Link Strategies Patty Link is involved,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “Iowa’s educators, labor unions, and anyone paying attention to right-wing organizations and their undue influence in politics understand what Students First is all about. Michelle Rhee’s controversial background and caustic influence on public education have no place in Iowa. Link would serve our state better if she denounced the Students First agenda and instead focused on promoting policies that truly further the best interest of Iowa students, rather than an out-of-state special interest group.”
Leaked documents show Michelle Rhee coordinating with Connecticut astroturf group to push ALEC’s “Parent Trigger”
Michelle Rhee’s group stands by anti-gay honoree
Did Michelle Rhee ignore her own cheating scandal? A new memo suggests clear evidence was discounted
Former DM School Board Member Patty Link to lead Students First group in Iowa
Students First gives Iowa ‘F’ for education policy
“Last year, Rhee visited with Gov. Terry Branstad and select lawmakers on education reform topics. The organization also spent more than $300,000 on state legislative races this year, more than any other independent expenditure group in the last cycle.”
Patty Link Des Moines School Board Biography
$355,541.95 in Independent Expenditures by Students First in 2012
Jane Jech for Iowa Senate: $85,450.31 total expenditures
Friends for Breitbach: $78,922 total expenditures
Committee to Elect Shawn Hamerlinck: $191,169.64
Not only have the media not properly conveyed what ALEC really is if they do talk about it which is extremely rare, but they are also not mentioning ALEC when it would make perfect sense to. Even the “liberal” media such as Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Melissa Harris-Perry, fail repeatedly to connect the dots to ALEC when discussing the phenomenon of voter ID laws being introduced in Republican controlled states across the country. In Iowa, Jason Noble covered a press conference held by ProgressIowa about ALEC’s involvement in Iowa but as far as we can tell, no journalist is mentioning ALEC while covering particular bills, such as loosening gun safety laws and voter ID just to name two. Has any member of the Iowa media once mentioned Matt Schultz’s voter purge and ALEC in the same article? Has any member of the Iowa media asked the SOS or Governor Branstad (founding member of ALEC), questions about ALEC and voter ID? Has any member of the Iowa Press pressed GOP legislators about whether they might be attending ALEC’s Spring Task Force Summit this weekend? http://www.alec.org/meetings/spring-task-force-summit-2013/ Democracy cannot survive without a functioning press. Please watch. Please share. More links and info below.
What ALEC does is criminal, and it needs to be stopped. Please click on the links below for more information on how you can help:
Visit AlecExposed to view the model legislation and learn more about ALEC:
Sign a petition to get corporations out of ALEC:
Read here why ALEC should have its 501 c3 tax status revoked:
Go here for regular ALEC-related updates:
Ritz Carlton meeting -
Stand Your Ground law-
The ALEC scholarhip fund (an example):
ALEC corporate PAC spending:
CCA, Russell Pearce, SB 1070 and ALEC:
Fracking fluids, XTO, disclosure requirements and ALEC:
Voter ID laws, other methods of disenfranchisement, the 5 million Americans and ALEC:
Rep. Greg Forristall Ignores Public Records Request, Claims All Iowa Legislators are ALEC Members
Des Moines, Iowa — Rep. Greg Forristall ignored a request to release information about the May 2-3 meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), where he will serve as Chair of the Education Task Force, according to correspondence released by Progress Iowa today. Forristall also claimed that all Iowa legislators are members of ALEC, despite reports to the contrary from members of the Iowa House and Senate.
“Representative Forristall failed to meet his own definition of participatory democracy,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “In order for Forristall’s constituents and all Iowans to fully participate in the democratic process – which he claims to want – the Representative should release all documents related to the ALEC meeting in May, as well as information detailing how much of our tax dollars are being spent to fund this secretive organization.”
The records request was sent in part as a response to a column Forristall wrote last month defending ALEC. Progress Iowa has engaged in a longstanding effort to educate the public about ALEC, which has been described as a “corporate bill mill” by local and national media due to the influence it grants to corporations with legislators.
Rep. Forristall’s column, published in the Des Moines Register on March 20, 2013, described the “participatory” nature of government, and described ALEC as having a “voluntary membership.” Despite what he wrote, Forristall chose to ignore a request to make public documents that would shed light on the otherwise secret activities of ALEC. The Iowa Supreme Court has denoted the House is exempt from disclosing the data Progress Iowa is seeking.
In an email message to Rep. Forristall on April 17, Progress Iowa’s Executive Director Matt Sinovic requested that he release the following information: any “35-Day Mailing” from ALEC (they typically send a mailing 35 days prior to their meeting with information about upcoming proposals); the roster of ALEC members in Iowa; the roster of membership in Forristall’s education task force; financial records detailing payments from the State of Iowa to ALEC for the payment of membership dues and any other payments.
Forristall responded with just one sentence, ignoring the remainder of the requests: “Mr. Sinovic, All Senate and House members of the Iowa Legislature are members of ALEC, NCSL, and CSG.” However, the Iowa House Democratic caucus sent a request before the legislative session that none their members join ALEC. During the past several years House members have automatically been “opted in” to ALEC membership, and their request was meant to pre-empt that membership and any taxpayer funded dues associated with membership.
Progress Iowa is asking all Iowans to contact Rep. Forristall to ask him to live up to his definition of participatory democracy, and release the requested information about ALEC membership and the May 2-3 meeting in Oklahoma City. For more information visit progressiowa.org.
Here’s more video from last week’s press event to highlight the completion of the ALEC in Iowa report. Featured in this video: Matt Sinovec, ProgressIowa; Lisa Graves, Center for Media and Democracy; Peter Fisher, Iowa Policy Project, and State Senator Joe Bolkcom. Click here to read the complete report about how corporations are writing laws, pushing them off on your state representative whose re-election campaign they likely support financially, who then passes it off to you and fellow Iowans as a home-grown bill. These ALEC McBills have nothing to do with what is best for Iowa. Contact your state representative or state senator to find out if he or she is a member of ALEC.
Matt Sinovic, ProgressIowa
*UPDATE: CLICK HERE TO READ THE REPORT RELEASED TODAY
Des Moines, Iowa — Local and national leaders will speak out on Tuesday, March 12th about the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, and its influence on Iowa’s legislative process. Lisa Graves, the executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy and publisher of ALECexposed.org, Senator Joe Bolkcom, chair of the national Progressive States Network, and Peter Fisher, research director for the Iowa Policy Project, will attend and participate on an expert panel about ALEC, a group that has been described as “stealth lobbyists” for its clandestine pursuit of a corporate agenda across the country.
In partnership with Center for Media and Democracy and Common Cause, the event will feature a screening of the Bill Moyers program “United States of ALEC” and a new research report entitled “ALEC Exposed in Iowa,” scheduled for release on Tuesday morning. Key findings in the report include:
- A detailed listing of the more than $500,000 in campaign donations from ALEC member corporations to ALEC members in Iowa, including more than $200,000 to Governor Terry Branstad, a founding member of ALEC.
- The secretive nature of ALEC’s taxpayer-funded membership in Iowa due to a lack of transparency in the Iowa legislature
- Examples of ALEC ‘model’ bills, written by and for corporate interests, then introduced by Iowa legislators
- Ongoing efforts to shed light on the influence of ALEC in Iowa
Iowa State Capitol, Room 22, Des Moines, Iowa
Tuesday, March 12th, 12:00 – 1:00 PM
ALEC is a Washington DC based group funded almost entirely by corporations, big business associations, insurance companies, and the super-rich. ALEC was formed in 1973 by a group of conservative activists who came together to advance a national corporate agenda in state legislatures across the country. Among the founders of ALEC was now-Governor Terry Branstad.
ALEC is made up of more than 300 corporate and 2,000 legislative members, the overwhelming majority of them Republicans, who work outside of the public view to approve ‘model’ legislation to increase corporate profits at public expense and promote a conservative national agenda.
Contact Matt Sinovec, 515-423-0530
The event will include:
- Screening of the Bill Moyers program “United States of ALEC”
- Release of a new research report, “ALEC Exposed in Iowa”
- An expert panel on the influence of ALEC across the country and in Iowa, featuring:
Lisa Graves Executive Director of Center for Media & Democracy
Joe Bolkcom, State Senator
Peter Fisher, Iowa Policy Project
Executive Director | Progress Iowa