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Sep-09-2011 14:50printcomments

Corporate Interests Imposed On State Law/Drafts With Veto Power 'Worth King's Ransom' to Whole Crowd of Corporate Powers

While Legislator Members Paid Little, Reaped Political Benefits - ALEC Participants from Oregon Legislature.

Bush at ALEC

(SEASIDE, Ore.) - (Major portions of this three-part report are drawn directly from the original Special Investigation by the American Associates for Justice exposing ALEC first released in May 2010. See sidebar for full detail, link to original for download. Part one: here)

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For nearly forty years (since '73), by brazen manipulation, a large crowd of corporations have been imposing their private and very commercial interests on state laws set up for enactment by legislators from every one of our states. In three work-sessions yearly, some 1000 "model bills" are mutually created by this system, with 20% becoming law.

For this imperious privilege to shape and define developing law covering issues, problems, actions, permissions and public behaviors, these corporate perpetrators have paid --and now continue to pay- what the AAJ describes as "a king's ransom", as well as a whole range of fees and charges.

One priceless private-side right is retained and sometimes exercised: Corporate and private-interest participants can veto any bill-developed, on its way to full dialog by ALEC task forces or at the end of that process.

If a corporation participates in any of the ten task forces, additional fees apply, for $2,500 to $10,000. ALEC also receives direct grants from corporations, such as $1.4 million from Exxon-Mobil for the period 1998-2009. It is a process which has now become well-known since the AAJ courageous, probing investigation as "ghostwriting the law" --and some of the consequences coming directly from those distorted and perverted laws can only now be described as ghastly. (See examples from the AAJ original investigative report, linked in our sidebar story.)

More than eighty percent of ongoing costs for the ALEC system demanded for this despicable scam on Constitutional provisions for our carefully-separated legal system is paid directly for corporate membership. For "a seat at the table", those corporations each pay a minimum of $7,000 to $10,000.

American Association for Justice

On August 16, 1946, nine plaintiffs’ attorneys involved in workers’ compensation litigation met at the Heathman Hotel in Portland, Oregon. They put together a plan for a national organization to combat new threats facing trial lawyers across the country, the National Association of Claimants' Compensation Attorneys (NACCA). They offered strong representation for victims of industrial accidents and soon attracted admiralty, railroad, and personal injury lawyers.

In 2006, ATLA members voted to adopt a new name: the American Association for Justice (AAJ). Today, AAJ is a broad-based, international coalition of attorneys, law professors, paralegals, and law students. As the world's largest trial bar, AAJ promotes justice and fairness for injured persons, safeguards victims' rights —particularly the right to trial by jury— and strengthens the civil justice system through education and disclosure of information critical to public health and safety. With members worldwide, and a network of U.S. and Canadian affiliates involved in diverse areas of trial advocacy, AAJ provides lawyers with the information and professional assistance needed to serve clients successfully and protect the democratic values inherent in the civil justice system.

To sponsor an ALEC meeting event, others must pony up $50,000 -- and many also pay special fees and other costs for the lavish lay-outs and lush lashings common to all such events when corporate-funded for "persuasive" purposes.

Only 1.3% is supplied --most charged to state expense accounts-- by legislators carefully recruited (read: chosen) from each one of our states. Republicans overwhelm the membership list and hold nearly every lead-role in committees and the task forces.

Those legislators, many of whom serve part-time on a small stipend and without legislative staff, pay only a nominal $50-$200 fee for a 2-year membership.

Many cover their travel costs and working expenses via charges on state accounts, thus using taxpayer dollars for the travel/expenses which make ALEC a working institution.

It is understood legislators found themselves unprepared and unready, in recent years, to produce the level and quality of legislative development demanded under overwhelming modern conditions; but ALEC has operated "successfully" ever since 1973.

Although the organization was formed in the early 70's it did not gain political traction until Ronald Reagan appointed ALEC members to his administration and gave the group credibility.

Over those many years it has become entirely obvious, as AAJ's report states, that the relationship between public and private sector members is simple and symbiotic: Legislators receive vacations, dinners, and prepackaged model legislation that they can take home and introduce in their sessions without the burden of researching and writing, while corporations get open access to friendly legislators who are willing to act as corporate handmaidens to ensure that corporate perks keep rolling.

ALEC is still currently providing an easy --even if manipulative-- mechanism for meetings devoted to its tested-and-proven protocol of sophisticated "closed-door and no press" drafting of new legislation. Highly respected public-interest journalists and their working staff were barred from attendance at the last ALEC session in New Orleans. (See "Secretive Corporate-Legislative Group ALEC Holds Annual Meeting to Rewrite State Laws"; Tuesday 9 August 2011 by Amy Goodman, Democracy Now.)

The ongoing work at ALEC is set up in ten essential-issue groups, each charged to produce research, reports and model legislation --with counsel, advice and full -sometimes insistent-- "support" from corporate and private interests "at the table". welcomed as "colleagues working in unison."

But it becomes obvious where the power lies when essentially unprepared legislators must compete head to head with the sharpest brains in the corporate world, surely well-focused, with unlimited research-in-advance resources, and the off-table counsel of corporate law firms and advertising/communication gurus.

(For full lists of corporate and private-interest gurus participating over the years check out website Alex Exposed - Alex Exposed.)


The essential "contribution" these "colleagues" make is providing the structure of the "model" legislative statement itself, including its grammar, the words making up its content, and the supporting definitions, defining the "legislative necessities" cited for this major effort to develop a new law.

For anyone skilled in work with language, the infinite possibilities thus opened for strong corporate/private interest is completely obvious --and worth that "king's ransom and other costs.

The task force areas of activity are Civil Justice, Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development, Education. Health and Human Services, International Relations, Natural Resources, Public Safety and Elections, Tax and Fiscal Policy, Telecommunications and Information Technology.

The "secret" --secretized only among the leading groups involved in this mechanism-- is to shape such legislation from the moment its concept is born right on through until final passage at the State Legislatures affected by adoption.

As you may have guessed, this whole process soon became Koch-inized and has been heavily "facilitated" and supported by a massive working investment from corporate and private/business sponsors, donors, and gift-givers ever since, in more ways than we can list and explore in this space.

ALEC has also received grants from some of the biggest foundations funded by corporate CEOs in the country, such as: the Koch family Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Koch-managed Claude R. Lambe Foundation, the Scaife family Allegheny Foundation, the Coors family Castle Rock Foundation, to name a few.

Nowadays corporate and private-interest well-experienced "leadership" has learned how to get that key job done --writing the actual working text of new laws-- far more effectively than ever before.

All that is needed is the equivalent of that "hidden tunnel" we heard described by a wealthy lobbyist-veteran, early on --and this one has been "hidden" right out there in the public eye ever since 1973.

The working results are now firmly embedded across the nation in much that state legislatures have seemingly accomplished --ever since '73 !-- with much deeper involvement in the actual construction of current law than was commonly known.

Only in recent months has the institution, the process and protocol and the history become widely known, with some earlier reports, the work of the AAJ, and with intriguing continuing detail at the website ALEC EXPOSED.

It is that basic process of shaping and stating the new legislation which determines any impacts of a new law. That's what has been under way ever since '73, under cover of a very cozy relationship with those whose assistance is eagerly provided by special interests mostly representing corporate and private business.

Nothing as extensive, effective and comprehensive has ever before been devoted to a direct attack aiming to influence the actual development process of the broadly recognized foundations of our American system of laws --the 50 individual states, each with its own needs, demands and development process set up by our Constitution via the state legislatures.

That was the unique opportunity recognized by those who have conceived this now-institutional system, endowed it with the strong organization demanded, and overseen its constant steady growth through all these years --always with the major objective of injecting corporate and private interest impacts on this key legislative process.

You can be sure that there now exists a tremendous stock of state law directly affected --some will state "distorted, perverted"-- by that influence.

THAT doth not happen, even in our demeaning and degenerating system, without the strong intervention of some very elite/select participants.

You can also be sure that in every state and nationally this entire sorry incident is being most carefully investigated in full detail.

We will explore that part of our story in this continuing series.

Part one: ALEC' UN-Elected, Writing U.S. Legislation Under Koch-Influenced Direction In Many States Op-Ed by Henry Clay Ruark for Salem-News.com/b>

______________________

At 21, Henry Clay Ruark was Aroostook Editor for the Bangor, Maine DAILY NEWS, covering the upper 1/4 of the state. In the ‘40s, he was Staff Correspondent, then New England Wires Editor at United Press-Boston; later Editor for the Burlington, Vermont 3-daily group owned by Wm. Loeb, later notorious at Manchester, New Hampshire UNION LEADER for attacks on Democratic Presidential candidates.

Hank returned to Oregon to complete M. Ed. degree at OSU, went on to Indiana University for Ed.D. (abd) and special other course-work; was selected as first Information Director for NAVA in Washington, D.C.; helped write sections of NDEA, first Act to supply math, science, foreign language consultants to state depts. of education; joined Oregon Dept. of Education, where he served as NDEA administrator/Learning Media Consultant for ten years.

He joined Dr. Amo DeBernardis at PCC, helping establish, extend programs, facilities, Oregon/national public relations; moved to Chicago as Editor/Publisher of oldest educational-AV journal, reformed as AV GUIDE Magazine; then established and operated Learning Media Associates as general communications consultant group. Due to wife’s illness, he returned to Oregon in 1981, semi-retired, and has continued writing intermittently ever since, joining S-N in 2004. His Op Eds now total over 650 written since then.




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Hank Ruark September 11, 2011 11:03 am (Pacific time)

To all: Like millions of other Americans, this day started with viewing "all over again" the 9/11 terror attack on New York's World Trade Towers. Why is it that we defend by any means, and hope to defeat, the terrorists that taught us that New York lesson, while we allow others --just as truly terrorists re damage to our true democracy -- delay, deny, defy and try to defeat what we work so hard to build still further as real democracy ? The ultimate terror is to paralyze and permeate our American way of open, honest politics, in a system built for its slow-but-sure processes and full protocol for final consensus --and a democratic majority decision -- via the American-style legislative journey, at both state and national levels. "Treason doth never prosper, what's the reason ? For if it prosper, none dare call it treason". -- Sir John Harington, English courtier and writer.


Hank Ruark September 10, 2011 4:21 pm (Pacific time)

To all: Please note ML wrote, as first words: "Who actually generates more influence: Unions or private business interests?" That's dead give/away for change in subject, which here is the 800 model laws drawn up by ALEC each with distorted content from corporate and private image influence while being written, then with more that 150 of them become actual state-level law. SO ML's ploy since he cannot deny those facts documented by NATION and others is to fire off as many odd and distracting, disjointed issues as he can get away with That demonstrates contempt for our readers and for first rule here which is stick to subject of dialog. Such rude behavior should relieve him of all credibility for what he doth declare...


Hank Ruark September 10, 2011 11:48 am (Pacific time)

To all: For complete refutation of ML concept of realities, see "Foundering Fathers" by Harold Meyerson; The American Prospect, Oct. 2011. Meyerson's report illuminates ML as reflecting the infamous John C. Calhoun "theory of nullification" and ties the current GOPster "do NOTHING" determination directly to divided government as "inheriting the spirit, if not the theories, of Calhoun." Meyerson further insists "it is worth noting that the filibuster emerged as the Republicans' favorite tactic only when the party became centered in the white South". He does not completely tie such false-realities sentiment these days to racism, but you can smell his inference quite clearly, as some of us can in the ML stuff.


Hank Ruark September 10, 2011 10:37 am (Pacific time)

To all: What ML writes sounds very much like what we heard recently from another with same initials...still same distorted and perverted misreading of what actually took place...per DJ's response. What teachers do is only small part of total educational impact on learner, most essential component but hampered by much else..learning media and methodology needs strong application in modern world...and I speak as trained professional with 60 working years in education and communications...who is ML ? Do believe I can guess; can you ?? But most essential fact is his missing point of report, which shows the open attack on Constitutional separation of powers built by Founders. It is the state legislatures that should build our laws, not a private interest dominated secret tunnel mechanism to evade that concept. If we choose to change that, we must indeed change Constitution. OR as ML would have it, abandon it entirely and allow private-profit movitation to dominate entirely and for every possible application.


ML September 9, 2011 6:35 pm (Pacific time)

Who actually generates more influence: Unions or private business interests? Measure 66 and 67 passed a while back did not have any success, in fact it dialed down job growth while public union personnel got more expensive. Now we see layoffs and budget cuts because over 90% of educational costs are not directed to students and school infrastructure, but to salaries and pensions to teachers who are literally failing the students as the drop out rates increase and/or performance standards are constantly downgraded. Seems pretty clear with the evidence is that the democrats (and Soros-type funding that dwarfs the KOCH's/see FEC) and union leadership is exerting a very painful, and failing control over the taxpayers dollar. Fortunately the voter's can see "with their own eyes" what's going on, and recent voting patterns validate that statement. For example in New York City, literally thousands of teachers have been banned from the classrooms, so they go to a hall of some type and sit out their paid work day doing crosswords or whatever. Oh, watch the special election in New York this coming Tuesday for Weiner's seat (remember him?), a safe democrat seat? Just watch the results. For my nickel, it's the private interests that created this country and keep it going. It is corrupt government influences that are harming us, and the evidence cannot be refuted by innuendo, and that's all I see coming from those Alinsky types who always choose distraction over truth, always.

 DJ: Corporate money has been dominating since the 1970s when private interests started putting millions of dollars into right-wing think tanks: Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation, Manhattan Institute, et al. There has been no corresponding development on the Democratic side. What we have come to see is a conservative movement whose actual goal is not just to repeal the New Deal but to actually undo the 20th century. Grover Norquist, for example has said he wants to take America back to “the McKinley era, absent the protectionism,” to the way it was “up until Teddy Roosevelt, when the socialists took over. The income tax, the death tax, regulation, all that.” 

 A true conservative, of course, would go even farther back and repeal much, if not all, of the Bill of Rights. Don't laugh. It could happen. In the mid-1950s Chief Justice Earl Warren suggested that the U.S. Bill of Rights, if presented then, could not have passed.

Consider the 2004 platform of the Texas Republican Party. National platforms have to present at least an appearance of moderation, but in Texas Republicans can be Republicans. It calls for the elimination of federal agencies “including but not limited to, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; the position of Surgeon General; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Departments of Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Education, Commerce and Labor.” The platform also calls for the privatization of Social Security and the abolition of the minimum wage. 

If Rick Perry becomes president, and considering the political sophistication of the American people it's not only possible, but even likely, then Americans will find themselves unpleasantly introduced to Feudalism and Serfdom--the exact opposite of socialism. 

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