As we deal with a barrage of state-funded legislative battles, such as Voter ID attacks on voting rights, destruction of public education by diverting taxpayer funding to private, for-profit charter schools, abolition of public sector unions, environmental protections and common sense gun laws, etc., it is important that we understand exactly who is behind them.
The answer? The American Legislative Council, known as ALEC. ALEC is an outfit controlled and financed by some of the biggest corporate financial barons who three times a year bring together their think tank operators (such as the Heritage foundation), a number of key political and legislative leaders, and CEOs from a number of the largest corporations.
They lavish high cost entertainment and perks on everyone present, then get down to business; their business being to fashion federal and state laws, which they intend to have passed, and commit millions of dollars to the politicians who introduce and campaign for passage of these laws.
They have been concentrating on state campaigns with considerable success.
State legislators return from ALEC meetings and bring back "model bills" to their home legislatures, introducing them as their own bills.
More than 98 percent of ALEC's revenue comes from corporations, their trade groups, and foundations. ExxonMobil gave $1.4 million in "grant money" to ALEC from 1998-2009. Corporate members donated $4 million to send lawmakers on trips.
Groups have begun to expose ALEC. Two years ago, on April 29, 2011, hundreds gathered to protest ALEC for the first time outside the group's spring meeting in Cincinnati.
People for the American Way says ALEC is a "right wing public policy organization, with an agenda for privatizing public services, restricting government regulations on corporations and finance capital."
ALEC was founded in September 1973 by a small group of legislators and policy makers including Lou Barnett, a veteran of Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign, Illinois Representative Henry Hyde, together with a handful of others, including the infamous oil barons Charles and David Koch, who were feted for their family's role in founding the hate group, John Birch Society.
Included in this list of right wing conspirators is John Kasich, who made use of ALEC's millions in corporate funds to win the governorship of Ohio.
A bright light of peoples' democratic rights needs to shine on and expose the threatening shadow ALEC is casting over the 2014 elections in Ohio and elsewhere, and all other functions of our democratic way of life.
Photo: ALEC and corporate interests have a monopoly on many right-wing state lawmakers. (RJ // CC 2.0)