Saturday May 18, 2013
Special Interests May Derail Historic Oregon Legislative SessionRichard Reid for Salem-News.com
Elected by no one, ALEC uses elected officials to promote laws impacting virtually every aspect of American public policy.
(SALEM) - A national special interest council threatens citizen involvement in Oregon’s first annual legislature. ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, is a nonprofit increasingly dominating legislatures and impeding citizen access in all 50 states.
Corporations pay for membership in ALEC and for “scholarships” to legislators desiring Conference attendance where they learn what corporations want. After instruction Legislators return to their states and promote ALEC “model bills.” But offering “scholarships” to legislators ALEC seeks to influence may violate nonprofit rules. The IRS has yet to rule on a Common Cause complaint covering that and other possible violations (link below).
Elected by no one, ALEC uses elected officials to promote laws impacting virtually every aspect of American public policy. Legislators participate in Council lectures and workshops offering an exclusively corporate perspective that is drafted into “model bills” legislators promote.
The Center for Media and Democracy has been tracking and exposing ALEC tactics for years making it easy for anyone to look over the shoulders of ALEC representatives in each legislature. CME established a special site for citizens concerned about ALEC's obstruction of democracy (see http://alecexposed.org/
Oregon’s first annual session (Feb 1) provides an unprecedented opportunity for the media to report on ALEC influence in the Oregon legislature. ALEC-Exposed allows anyone to a) track Oregon bills back to their ALEC “models,” b) interview Oregon legislators who are active ALEC members, c) interview non-ALEC legislators concerned about undue influence, d) discuss ALEC distortion of representative government.
The ALEC State Chair in Oregon is Rep. Gene Whisnant (R-53) Sunriver. Last Session as ALEC Public Sector Chair for Oregon, Rep. Whisnant introduced two ALEC model bills intended to restrain and restrict government ability to provide services (HB 3360, HB 3486). The objective of those bills was fulfilled in a third Whisnant/ALEC bill (HB 3488) that would have forced privatization of services, a major ALEC objective. In a recent email Rep. Whisnant said, “I am introducing three bills in 2012 which came from ALEC model legislative bills.” (See list of current ALEC representatives in the Oregon Legislature below).
Concerns about ALEC influence in Oregon might motivate an “ALEC Accountability Act of 2012” like that currently sponsored by Arizona Rep. Steve Farley (below).
Many question how special interests in the Oregon legislature frequently prevail over public interests. The growing number of ALEC representatives in the Oregon Legislature is one answer to that question.
NOTES and LINKS:
Common Cause complaint to IRS regarding ALEC possibly violating 501(c)(3) rules.
For more on Rep. Farley’s “ALEC Accountability Act of 2012”
To track bills introduced by Oregon Representative members of ALEC see
Current ALEC-Exposed watch list for Oregon. Oddly, Oregon seems to be the only state in the union without ALEC members in the Senate. Very few Democrats are associated with ALEC.
Rep. John Huffman (R-59)
Rep. Gene Whisnant (R-53) ALEC State Chairman; International Relations Task Force member; ALEC State Legislator of the Year (2011).
Rep. Matt Wingard (R-26)
Rep. Tim Freeman (R-2) ALEC Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force member.
Rep. Katrina E. Brewer (R-29) ALEC International Relations Task Force member.
Rep. Shawn Lindsay (R-30) ALEC Public Safety and Elections Task Force member.
Rep. Michael R. McLane (R-55) ALEC Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force member.
Rep. Jason Conger (R-54) ALEC Civil Justice Task Force member.
Rep. Matthew Wand (R-49) ALEC Civil Justice Task Force member.
Rep. Wally Hicks (R-3) ALEC Civil Justice Task Force member.
Rep. Sal Esquivel (R-6)
Rep. Bill Kennemer (R-39)
Rep. Bruce Hanna (R-7)
Rep. Kim Thatcher (R-25)
The ALEC story has considerable breadth and scope. These two diagrams provide an excellent introduction.
From The Nation Magazine. Eight stories, an NPR interview with The Nation’s John Nichols and several blog entries. www.thenation.com/search/apachesolr_search/ALEC
On KBOO 90.7 FM Portland. Several recent stories http://kboo.fm/search/
PR Watch, ALEC evicting the press and public in Scottsdale. http://www.
The Star, ALEC - America’s Secret Political Power http://www.thestar.com/
Portland Oregonian search “American Legislative Exchange Council” search.
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