Friday, June 19, 2015

The bill mill that is ALEC

Muninetworks.org has this tip on the American Legislative Exchange Council, aka, ALEC. Their article includes a link to a video from a local television station in Savannah, Georgia. The video is professionally produced and is really quite a refreshing example of news reporting on TV. What we see in the video is a very nice expose of ALEC as proxy, providing corporate access to legislators and how bills are written and introduced into state legislatures around our country. 


It's a total pay to play system designed just for big money in politics. One former member describes an ALEC meeting as a "bill mill" in the video. The audacity of ALEC and their supporters should not be surprising in the age of Citizens United, except that ALEC is 40 years old.

It seems interesting that people who support ALEC and participate in their meetings crave so much secrecy, yet seem so proud of what they're doing on the outside. If legislators and ALEC are fighting for a worthy cause, then their efforts would not dry up in sunshine. What has happened is that under increased scrutiny, corporations and legislators are dropping their memberships for fear of being associated with ALEC.

Of course, we should be mindful that the draw of money without work will always be there, so we can expect some other non-profit organization to form to replace ALEC if a replacement is needed. But this video is a reminder that even 4 armed off duty peace officers (in full uniform???) can be paid to protect their meetings. I could actually feel adrenaline building up as the officers in that video threatened the fully credentialed members of the press with removal from the hotel as a guest.

This video, and others like it are an uncomfortable reminder that the cost of liberty is eternal vigilance. I guess we have to decide if we prefer regulation of our lives to be by elected government or by private corporations.
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