ALEC Joins Politicians With Corporate Criminals
Along with Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz, Republican Governor Scott Walker will address the annual American Legal Exchange Council (ALEC) convention in San Diego in September. Walker has been affiliated with ALEC for more than 20 years. The reforms he has instituted in Wisconsin–tort reform, prison reform, and gun reform–are all projects of ALEC. ALEC is an organization which provides Republican legislators with sample (“model bills”) that corporations want them to pass. Many of these corporations want to change laws to benefit themselves. Others want immunity from criminal prosecution.
Corporations that support ALEC include:
- Altria, aka Philip morris was convicted on federal racketeering charges in 2006. The conviction stemmed from 50 years of defrauding the public about the dangers of smoking cigarettes. About 500,000 people in the US die from the effects of smoking.
- American Electric Power. Paid $60 million in fines in 2007 to mitigate the effects of pollution from its coal-burning power plants in the eastern US. This was the largest environmental settlement in history. The Department of Justice and the EPA found that AEP had repeatedly violated the New Source Provisions of the Clean Air Act.
- Bayer. Bayer is a producer of bee-killing nicotinoid pesticides, which experts believe may cause a crisis in world-wide agriculture. Bayer paid $8 million in fines for violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
- Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. BNSF hauls 10% of the coal burned to make electricity in the US. Coal burning has been blamed for 13,000 deaths in the US annually and health effects that cost American citizens $100 billion. BNSF has funded climate denial groups that propagate lies about the effects of fossil fuels on our environment.
- Management and Training Corporation is the third largest private prison company in America. It has been cited for illegal activities several times by the federal government. Its illegal acts include employment discrimination, strip searches, failure to pay wages, wrongful death as a result of failure to provide psychiatric services, wrongful death for failure to control gang activities, complicity in rape, and other charges.
- GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut). The second largest private prison company has participated in ALEC projects, such as third-strike legislation and determinate sentencing laws that have caused the demand for private prisons to soar, thus resulting in profits for itself.
- NRA. The NRA has worked with ALEC on gun control and gun violence legislation, as well as the Arizona immigration law and a Voter-ID bill. In particular, the “stand your ground” law that makes it difficult to prosecute a shooting death in Florida was copied and submitted to other states by ALEC.
Many corporations have decided to stop supporting ALEC since the public has found out how damaging its activities have been to Americans. Its role in writing the “stand your ground” laws in particular was damaging to its image. Republican politicians haven’t recognized how corrosive ALEC is yet, including hard-core conservatives Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, and Mike Huckabee.
image: CC-AS 4.0 by Michael Vadon