Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Texas Awash In Corporate ALEC Influence

From Burnt Orange Report, Progress Texas and Democratic Blog News

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a corporate clearinghouse for the promotion of "model bills" that pad bottom lines of corporations at the public's expense. Over the last few months, Progress Texas has looked at ALEC and their influence on the Texas Legislature.

ALEC has operated in relative secrecy since 1973, avoiding scrutiny from the media and watchdog groups as it has sought to impose a coordinated corporate agenda on all fifty states. ALEC’s scheme is to game the lawmaking process with “model legislation” penned by corporation insiders and billionaire conservatives, which is then passed to Republican state legislators to submit as their own bills in state legislatures in all 50 states. ALEC's "model legislation seeks to protect polluters, privatize public education, break unions and give advantage to Republican candidates through restrictive voter photo ID requirements and other legislation crafted to restrict access to the voting booth.

Last week, Progress Texas' ongoing research culminated in the first of a series of reports detailing the influence of ALEC on Texas laws and lawmakers.

In Texas, ALEC is serious business. State lawmakers raked in $16.2 million from ALEC member corporations over the past decade, companies like Walmart, Pfizer, ExxonMobil, and Koch Industries, according to a new report by Progress Texas. Texas Governor Rick Perry ranks as the single largest recipient of ALEC donations in the nation, banking more than $2 million from ALEC corporations between 2004 and 2011. Other top state GOP recipients of ALEC funds over the past decade include state Representative Tom Craddick ($878,110), state Senator Troy Fraser ($314,583), and state Representative Phil King ($164,435).

Some of the most controversial pieces of legislation that surfaced during the 82nd Texas Legislature last year appear to have followed ALEC's model legislation drafted in tandem by these corporate-political task forces.

The report explains ALEC’s corporate agenda, outlines the money trail from ALEC corporate members to Texas lawmakers, and highlights how legislators take ALEC’s corporate-approved “model” bills and implements them in Texas. From 2001 to 2011, Texas lawmakers have received over $16.2 million from ALEC corporations, which is the second highest total among states. The report also describes the cozy relationship between ALEC and the extreme right-wing group the Texas Public Policy Foundation, who regularly partners with ALEC to promote its corporate "model" bills here in Texas.

The Texas Legislature should be a laboratory for democracy, not a corporate clearinghouse for padding bottom lines at the public’s expense. ALEC Exposed in Texas shines light on the corporate lobbyists that craft cookie-cutter laws behind closed doors to put the profits of global corporations over creating better lives for Texans.

You can download the Progress Texas report PDF here or view it on Scribd, where you can read it in full.


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