Pressured by watchdog groups, civil rights organizations and a growing national movement for accountable lawmaking, the American Legislative Exchange Council announced Tuesday that it was disbanding the task force that has been responsible for advancing controversial Voter ID and "Stand Your Ground" laws.
ALEC, the shadowy corporate-funded proponent of so-called "model legislation" for passage by pliant state legislatures, announced that it would disband its "Public Safety and Elections" task force. The task force has been the prime vehicle for proposing and advancing what critics describe as voter-suppression and anti-democratic initiatives—not just restrictive Voter ID laws but also plans to limit the ability of citizens to petition for referendums and constitutional changes that favor workers and communities. The task force has also been the source of so-called "Castle Doctrine" and "Stand Your Ground" laws that limit the ability of police and prosecutors to pursue inquiries into shootings of unarmed individuals such as Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.
The decision to disband the task force appears to get ALEC out of the business of promoting Voter ID and "Stand Your Ground" laws. That's a dramatic turn of events, with significant implications for state-based struggles over voting rights an elections, as well as criminal justice policy. But it does not mean that ALEC will stop promoting one-size-fits-all "model legislation" at the state level.
Indeed, the disbanding of the "Public Safety and Elections" task force looks in every sense to be a desperate attempt to slow an exodus of high-profile corporations from the group's membership roll.
Anger over initial failure of Florida police and prosecutors to address Martin's shooting led to an intense focus on the state's "Stand Your Ground" law, and on the role of ALEC and the National Rifle Association in passing similar laws in states across the country.
That expanded interest in ALEC, a conservative "bill mill" that has been under scrutiny since the Center for Media and Democracy and The Nation launched the "ALEC Exposed" project last summer.
Pressure by CMD, civil rights groups such as the NAACP, the Urban League and ColorOfChange and good government organizations such as Common Cause and People for the American Way—which have expressed concern with ALEC's meddling in public safety and democracy debates at the state level—has in recent weeks led to decisions by Coca-Cola, Pepsi, McDonald's and other corporations to drop their affiliations with ALEC.
In many cases, the corporations that have quit ALEC have suggested that—while they were comfortable working with the right-wing group in order to advocate on behalf of tax and regulatory policies that are favorable to their business interests—they are ill-at-ease being drawn into debates about issues such as voting rights and gun control.
ALEC's decision to disband the Public Safety and Elections task force—which worked on those issues—cannot be seen as anything other than a response to the pressure the group has felt as high-profile corporate members have been quitting it on an almost daily basis.
While the group is not acknowledging as much, its statement on the disbanding of the task force speaks volumes.
“We are refocusing our commitment to free-market, limited government and pro-growth principles, and have made changes internally to reflect this renewed focus," announced Indiana State Representative David Frizzell, ALEC's national chairman. “We are eliminating the ALEC Public Safety and Elections task force that dealt with non-economic issues, and reinvesting these resources in the task forces that focus on the economy."
While this is a dramatic development in the struggle to expose and challenge ALEC's one-size-fits all assault on local and state democracy, it should be remembered that ALEC remains a prime proponent—via task forces working in other areas— of state-based assaults on labor rights, environmental protections and public education.
“Dozens of corporations are investing millions of dollars a year to write business-friendly legislation that is being made into law in statehouses coast to coast, with no regard for the public interest,” explains Bob Edgar of Common Cause. “This is proof positive of the depth and scope of the corporate reach into our democratic processes.”
Link to original article from The Nation
End Corporate Rule -
The US government does not represent the interests of the majority of the country's citizens, but is instead ruled by those of the rich and powerful, a new study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities has concluded.
The report, entitled Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens, used extensive policy data collected from between the years of 1981 and 2002 to empirically determine the state of the US political system.
After sifting through nearly 1,800 US policies enacted in that period and comparing them to the expressed preferences of...
Zachary Davies Boren | The Telegraph 17 Apr 2014 Hits:456 ECR Articles
Companies do not have a right to lie to their shareholders, a German judge ruled this week. But sometimes, she added, lies are necessary.
And with that Carola Wittig, a judge in the state court in Stuttgart, dismissed a suit filed by a group of hedge funds that lost a lot of money when Porsche Holding, the owner of the Porsche automaker at the time, lied about its intentions regarding Volkswagen.
“It was hardly possible to react to public speculation about a takeover of VW except with a denial,” the court explained...
Floyd Norris | New York Times 23 Mar 2014 Hits:175 ECR Articles
Think of Dixie, and your mind probably conjures something like "Duck Dynasty" — bearded men bouncing along dirt roads in pickup trucks, raucously waving rebel flags.
You probably wouldn’t think of black-tied bankers cavorting in the plush ballroom of Manhattan's St. Regis hotel. But were you to peek inside the recent gathering of a secret Wall Street society, you’d have witnessed investment banking tycoon Warren Stephens taking the stage in a Confederate flag hat, performing an ode to finance to the tune of “Dixie." "In Wall Street land we’ll take our...
Lynn Stuart Parramore | AlterNet 27 Feb 2014 Hits:253 ECR Articles
Talk about revenge of the C students! The nation’s biggest telecom company, Comcast, which took over NBCUniversal a year ago, wants to buy the second biggest company, Time-Warner Cable, to create an empire of 30-million subscribers. That’s a third of all American homes with cable for its TV, internet service and telephones.
The merger has to be approved by federal regulators as being in the public interest and not a monopoly. How Comcast, the world’s largest media company and one of America’s most reviled companies threads that needle will be a...
Steven Rosenfeld | AlterNet 14 Feb 2014 Hits:508 ECR Articles
Sen. Al Franken launched a petition on Tuesday calling for the overturning of the U.S. Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United, the 2010 ruling that has been widely held responsible for allowing an unprecedented influx of anonymous corporate money into local and national politics.
By Friday, the site-based petition had received nearly 229,000 individually verified signatures on MoveOn.org, including a lengthy list of outraged and pleading comments.
“In Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruled for the first time that corporations are guaranteed the same free speech rights as real people to...
Carey L. Biron | Mint Press News 20 Jan 2014 Hits:1300 ECR Articles
JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.
A toxic spill in West Virginia's Elk River has left 300,000 local residents without water for the past week. The leak came from a storage facility for chemicals used to process coal, and it's left many wondering if industry regulations are too lax, especially for the company responsible for the leak, Freedom Industries.
Let's take a look at what the president of the company had to say after being pressed by a local reporter about mapping out a...
Jessica Desvarieux | The Real News Network 20 Jan 2014 Hits:371 ECR Articles
Hobby Lobby, a chain of crafts stores, closes on Sundays, costing its owners millions but honoring their Christian faith.
The stores play religious music. Employees get free spiritual counseling. But they do not get free insurance coverage for some contraceptives, even though President Obama’s health care law requires it.
Hobby Lobby, a corporation, says that forcing it to provide the coverage would violate its religious beliefs. A federal appeals court agreed, and the Supreme Court is set to decide on Tuesday whether it will hear the Obama administration’s appeal from that decision...
Adam Liptak | The New York Times 25 Nov 2013 Hits:650 ECR Articles
The European Union said it plans to close a loophole in the corporate tax code that allows some companies to pay little or no tax by routing profits abroad, amid a mounting furor over the tax practices of major corporations such as Apple Inc. and Google Inc.
The proposal by the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, aims to boost tax revenue for national budgets at a time of biting austerity and ensure that companies pay a fair amount of tax.
“We can no longer afford freeloaders who reap huge profits in...
Tom Fairless | The Wall Street Journal 25 Nov 2013 Hits:528 ECR Articles
The conservative American Legislative Exchange Council is wading back into election issues, as it considers supporting a bill that would increase the role of state legislatures in the election of U.S. senators, chipping away at the powers vested directly in the people under the 17th Amendment.
ALEC circulates model legislation to state legislators, and its bills have resulted in states passing laws related to voter ID, so-called Stand Your Ground issues and the elimination or reduction of state income taxes.
In early December, a group of ALEC members are scheduled to consider...
Amanda Terkel The Huffington Post 15 Nov 2013 Hits:485 ECR Articles
The American people created the post office. The American people can still save the post office. But we need to do something right now.
In July 2011 the United States Postal Service (USPS) management announced it would rapidly close 3600 local post offices and eventually as many as 15,000. And shutter half the nation’s mail processing centers.
A frenzy of grassroots activity erupted as citizens in hundreds of towns mobilized to save a treasured institution that plays a key and sometimes a defining role in their communities. Only when Congress appeared ready...
David Morris | On the Commons 05 Nov 2013 Hits:515 ECR Articles
Way under the radar screen of Big Media, which is too busy wallowing around in every flaw of the early glitches of healthcare.gov to notice anything else going on no matter how important, is a hugely consequential Senate confirmation fight happening this week. This fight may well have a bigger impact on our economy than any other confirmation this fight. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has not had an official chief for years now, but after too long a delay President Obama nominated a solid, well-respected North Carolina congressman...
Mike Lux | Huffington Post 30 Oct 2013 Hits:513 ECR Articles
In its landmark 1976 decision Buckley v.Valeo, the Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of laws aimed at “the prevention of corruption and the appearance of corruption spawned by the real or imagined coercive influence of large financial contributions on candidates’ positions and on their actions if elected to office.”
In that light, let’s take a look at the record of campaign contributions to Spencer Bachus, a Republican congressman from Alabama and a prime example of the interaction between special interest campaign contributions and the legislative process.
For all intents and purposes, Bachus,...
Thomas B Edsall | The New York Times 18 Oct 2013 Hits:546 ECR Articles
As the federal government shutdown continues, Secretary of State John Kerry heads to Asia for secret talks on a sweeping new trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP is often referred to by critics as "NAFTA on steroids," and would establish a free trade zone that would stretch from Vietnam to Chile, encompassing 800 million people — about a third of world trade and nearly 40 percent of the global economy. While the text of the treaty has been largely negotiated behind closed doors and, until June, kept secret from...
Amy Goodman | Democracy NOW! 18 Oct 2013 Hits:848 ECR Articles
The latest wrecking ball flailing around in the rubble of America’s election and campaign finance laws, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, will be argued in the Supreme Court on October 8. Once again we can expect counsel and some members of the Court to be on the lookout for deviant, “forbidden” thinking about money and democracy.
As in Citizens United in 2010, the Arizona public funding case in 2011 (American Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett), and the Montana challenge to Citizens United in 2012 (American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock),...
Jeff Clements | ACS 08 Oct 2013 Hits:723 ECR Articles
Every week the Truthdig editorial staff selects a Truthdigger of the Week, a group or person worthy of recognition for speaking truth to power, breaking the story or blowing the whistle. It is not a lifetime achievement award. Rather, we’re looking for newsmakers whose actions in a given week are worth celebrating. Nominate our next Truthdigger here.
The extreme want of coverage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal in even the independent, alternative press is a testament to the near-complete domination of politics and the news media by transnational corporate interests....
06 Oct 2013 Hits:639 ECR Articles
That's over and above our payments to the big companies for energy and food and housing and health care and all our tech devices. It's $6,000 that no family would have to pay if we truly lived in a competitive but well-regulated free-market economy.
The $6,000 figure is an average, which means that low-income families are paying less. But it also means that families (households) making over $72,000 are paying more than $6,000 to the corporations.
1. $870 for Direct Subsidies and Grants to Companies
The Cato Institute estimates that the U.S. federal...
Paul Buchheit | Common Dreams 30 Sep 2013 Hits:866 ECR Articles
To quote famed short seller David Einhorn: “No matter how bad you think it is, it’s worse.” On the “corruption among what passes for our elites” front, this story about self-dealing in the privatization of the Postal Service gives an indication of how bad things really are.
By way of backstory: the Postal Service is being plundered through the device of a completely fabricated financial crisis. The mail provider has been widely declared to be broke, but that’s utter hogwash. Congress has created the appearance of financial ill health via a...
Yves Smith | Naked Capitalism 26 Sep 2013 Hits:780 ECR Articles
An amendment dubbed the "Monsanto Protection Act," which currently allows large agriculture and biotech corporations to ignore court orders involving the safety of genetically modified seeds, has been stripped from Senate's spending bill that could be voted on as early as Wednesday afternoon.
Following an organized campaign against the provision in recent months, its removal was being cheered by food safety and environmental activists as a victory.
The Monsanto Protection Act, otherwise known as the Farmer Assurance Provision rider, was wedged into a stop-gap budget bill that passed earlier this year and signed into law...
Jacob Chamberlain | Common Dreams 25 Sep 2013 Hits:597 ECR Articles
Today, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of the award-winning ALECexposed.org, launched OutsourcingAmericaExposed.org, a web resource devoted to helping taxpayers identify the corporations seeking to privatize public assets and services in their communities: including their schools, roads, prisons, drinking water, court systems, and more.
Once a week for the next several weeks, CMD will unveil corporate profiles of America’s most notorious corporations that are quietly working with state and local lawmakers to take over public services with little accountability, along with in-depth examinations of the CEOs personally profiting from...
Center for Media and Democracy's PRWatch 24 Sep 2013 Hits:622 ECR Articles
Discussions about removing government management of the U.S. air-traffic control system are the most serious in two decades, prompted by budget cuts and uncertain funding for converting to satellite navigation.
Leaders of the U.S. air-traffic controllers’ union and a private-pilot lobbying group, once fierce opponents of taking control of the system away from the Federal Aviation Administration, have endorsed talks on other ways to manage and pay for aviation safety.
“There are conversations taking place among the stakeholders,” Gerald Dillingham, civil aviation director of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, said in an...
Alan Levin | Bloomberg 24 Sep 2013 Hits:609 ECR Articles
In a letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke dated June 27, 2013, US Representative Alan Grayson and three co-signers expressed concern about the expansion of large banks into what have traditionally been non-financial commercial spheres. Specifically:
[W]e are concerned about how large banks have recently expanded their businesses into such fields as electric power production, oil refining and distribution, owning and operating of public assets such as ports and airports, and even uranium mining.
After listing some disturbing examples, they observed:
According to legal scholar Saule Omarova, over the past five years, there has...
Ellen Brown | Common Dreams 31 Aug 2013 Hits:775 ECR Articles
The Center for Media and Democracy filed a letter with the Texas Attorney General on Thursday refuting efforts by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to declare itself immune from the state's open records law. Texas is the first known state where ALEC has formally asked an Attorney General for an exemption from sunshine-in-government laws, and it marks a new low in the organization's attempts to advance its legislative agenda in secret and avoid public accountability for facilitating special interest influence.
“You cannot just create a special private club between lobbyists...
Center for Media and Democracy 19 Aug 2013 Hits:791 ECR Articles
Congressman Darrell Issa really is determined to end the United States Postal Service as Americans know it—indeed, as Americans have known it for more than 200 years.
Issa, the powerful chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has a long history of attacking the postal service. But, now, he has taken advantage of a manufactured crisis to get his committee to vote twenty-two to seventeen in favor of a “Postal Reform Act of 2013” that American Postal Workers Union president Cliff Guffey warns “will lead to the demise of...
John Nichols | The Nation 17 Aug 2013 Hits:1205 ECR Articles
As part of our ongoing focus on the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, we checked in with health insurance executive turned industry whistleblower Wendell Potter to learn about ALEC’s efforts to influence the health care debate and undermine The Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare).
Lauren Feeney: ALEC turned 40 last week. How long has the organization been involved in trying to influence the health care debate?
Wendell Potter: I don’t know whether insurance companies were part of the initial founding of the organization, but I’m sure they were involved early on. Health insurance is regulated largely...
Lauren Feeney | Bill Moyers.com 14 Aug 2013 Hits:565 ECR Articles
For two weeks, protesters have been living in a tent city outside a post office in Berkeley, California. The participants are staging the sleep-in to save the post office from closing, one of many closures facing post offices all across the country.
The United States Postal Service last week reported a net loss of $740 million in the third quarter—hemorrhaging many conservative leaders claim bolsters their argument that the USPS is antiquated and post offices should be closed.
It makes sense that the postal service has proven to be a popular target...
Allison Kilkenny | The Nation 13 Aug 2013 Hits:468 ECR Articles
Student after student on Wednesday took to the podium at a public board meeting of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to deliver a unified message against efforts by Mayor Rahm Emanuel which they say are systematically dismantling the public education in the city.
Their immediate demand: Listen to us. Their rallying cry: 'Whose Schools? Our Schools!' And their revolutionary threat: Abandon the corporate-fueled model of education reform in Chicago or face a student-led and community-powered revolt.
Led by twenty members of Chicago Students Organizing to Save Our Schools, a student-led educational activism...
Jon Queally | Common Dreams 25 Jul 2013 Hits:550 ECR Articles
When I learned last winter that I would have a seat on the Senate Banking Committee, I was very happy because I knew it would give me the opportunity to ask tough questions and push for some accountability from Wall Street and its regulators. In the last six months, that's exactly what I've tried to do.
Again and again, I've been making a simple point to anyone who will listen: we need to learn from the financial crisis of 2008 and, moving forward, to prevent the kinds of high-risk activities that...
Elizabeth Warren | DailyKos 22 Jul 2013 Hits:618 ECR Articles
For Republicans who want to cut the number of food stamp recipients, here’s a helpful suggestion: Support the ordinance passed last week by the D.C. Council, which required big-box stores like Wal-Mart to pay their employees at least $12.50 an hour.
On average, Wal-Mart pays its workers $12.67 an hour — which means that a huge number of its 1.4 million U.S. employees make a good deal less than that. By paying so little, the Bentonville behemoth compels thousands of its employees to use food stamps to feed their families and...
Harold Meyerson | The Washington Post 16 Jul 2013 Hits:353 ECR Articles
The global day of protest against the giant corporation Monsanto was a major success, as two million people showed up in cities around the world.
The global day of protest against the giant corporation Monsanto was a major success. On Saturday, demonstrators took to the streets in more than 50 countries for a “March Against Monsanto.”
The protests were aimed at highlighting Monsanto’s destructive business practices, like the making of genetically-modified seeds. Demonstrators in the U.S. called for the labeling of genetically-modified organisms. Protest organizers say that genetically-modified food can lead to...
Alex Kane | AlterNet 28 May 2013 Hits:582 ECR Articles
A fundamental struggle for democracy is going on behind the scenes in statehouses around the country, as a handful of wealthy individuals and foundations pour money into efforts to privatize the public schools.
The implications are huge. But the school privatizers, and their lobbyists in the states, have so muddied the waters that the public does not get a clear picture of what is at stake.
So it was fascinating when investigative reporter Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ripped the veil off a secretive organization and its hidden political activities...
Ruth Coniff | The Progressive 12 May 2013 Hits:795 ECR Articles
At the April Conference Call for the End Corporate Rule Issue Team, PDA endorsed the American Anti-corruption Act. I hope you'll go to http://www.represent.us and become a co-sponsor of the Act, joining what will be one million citizens by the end of 2013. We already have more than 360,000 signatures. This is the one piece of legislation that can bring our federal government back to the people.
If you ask the man (or woman) on the street why Congress can’t get anything done, he (or she) will almost certainly blame it...
Walter Ebmeyer 06 May 2013 Hits:818 ECR Articles
Failed gun control legislation and a fertilizer plant explosion reveal how poisoned by big money our government is.
If you want to see why the public approval rating of Congress is down in the sub-arctic range — an icy 15 percent by last count — all you have to do is take a quick look at how the House and Senate pay worship at the altar of corporations, banks and other special interests at the expense of public aspirations and need.
Traditionally, political scientists have taught their students that there are two schools...
Bill Moyers and Michael Winship | Bill Moyers.com 27 Apr 2013 Hits:911 ECR Articles
We now have 12 states whose legislatures have formally endorsed an amendment overturning Citizens United v. FEC (four of which have specifically endorsed ending corporate personhood): California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia.
People in cities, towns, and counties all across the country have been passing resolutions calling for an amendment for three years. We now have over 400 local jurisdictions across the United States, including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, that have adopted resolutions in favor of an amendment...
Sean Barnett | NOVA Move to Amend 26 Apr 2013 Hits:635 ECR Articles
The banksters are cashing in off their own disaster. The big banks are buying up distressed real estate by the boat load, and renting or selling it back to the…
The deal would include major papers such as the L.A. Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Baltimore Sun.
The billionaire oil moguls Charles and David Koch are pushing ahead with their…
The U.S. stands out among advanced countries for its highly regressive tax code.
It’s a sign of how well relentless propagandizing works that Joe Stiglitz has to devote a lengthy op-ed…
The deterioration of the nation’s public transportation, like the deterioration of health care, education, social services, public utilities, bridges and roads, is part of the relentless seizing and harvesting of…
Here's an outrage that must be changed: Big Pharma has been systematically price-gouging the Medicare program for seniors and people with disabilities -- and raking in billions in excessive profits.…
In the Nation, Isabel Macdonald has an excellent long read on the history of U.S. drug testing, beginning with a government program to test returning Vietnam War veterans and the…
America’s largest corporations have stashed nearly $1.5 trillion in offshore tax havens like Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, and Ireland — countries where they do little business but claim massive profits…
Anger at the so-called Monsanto Protection Act — a biotech rider that protects genetically modified seeds from litigation in the face of health risks — has been directed at numerous…
Until progressives come up with a compelling new political approach to business, we will be playing a whack-a-mole defense with the corporate-welfare bills that pop up constantly and define the…
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PDA is organized around several core issues. These issues include:
Each team hosts a monthly conference call. Calls feature legislators, staffers and other policy experts. On these calls we determine PDA legislation to support as well as actions and future events.
Click the link above and listen to End Corporate Rule's monthly call covering the new Glass-Steagall legislation, the Better Off Budget, what to do regarding further attacks on the Post Office, Sen. Sanders' hearing on single payer, the Nolan...
Listen in and find out about "We the People" and their campaign finance disclosure issue, laying the groundwork for a Progressive Caucus in the Senate, an overview of Food Stamps (SNAP) and Agriculture Bill Issues, Trans Pacific Partnership,...
This month's call enjoyed the company of speaker and member of the Maryland State Senate, Jamie Raskin, on the discussion related to constitutional amendments. Also discussed was unemployment, the Farm Bill, Medicare Part D, the Trans Pacific...
Listen in as the team discusses the legislative agenda for their work on the Hill this week, updates on SNAP, the Farm Bill, Social Security, the TPP, and more. Plus, find out about their working committees.
Listen is as we discuss the budget crisis and the fight to kill Obamacare, upcoming plans for our work on the Hill with a focus on Social Security and other social programs coming under increased attacks, report on the status of constitutional...
Discussion of updates and strategies on the budget crisis/government shutdown, where we are with constitutional amendments, the SNAP program and big Ag, the Post Office situation, and stopping the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).