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Results tagged “ALEC”

March 10, 2014

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The Virginian-Pilot opines, "Virginia's ethics laws have long been predicated on the notion that transparency, rather than any cap on money or gifts, is sufficient and proper. But state lawmakers, at least in the House of Delegates, aren't quite willing to let go of taxpayer subsidies that help fund their travel to conferences put on by special-interest groups that don't share an affinity for disclosure... The measure sailed into the House, where it hit a brick wall in the Rules Committee this week... [M]embers of that committee decided on an unrecorded 'voice vote after less than three minutes of discussion' to kill the bill."

Progressive Point: We elect our legislators to moderate the influence of special interests--not do their bidding in Richmond. Politicians like Speaker Howell, who killed pro-transparency legislation in an unrecorded vote, only highlight how big the problem is. Virginia voters won't trust politicians who are on the take, and today it is clear they shouldn't.

Working Virginians have a right to know what our tax dollars pay for. Instead, out-of-touch politicians in the House of Delegates have sided with corporate-front groups like ALEC rather than their own constituents. Politicians in ALEC's pocket, like Speaker Howell, have chosen taxpayer funding for out-of-state, closed-door meetings with lobbyists instead of transparency. We will never have a government by and for the people if secret corporate donors continue to run the show in Richmond.

Get the Facts:

  • In 2013, Virginia taxpayers paid $20,000 in public funds for our elected officials to travel to the American Legislative Exchange Council's closed door conference. "ALEC is a legislative bill factory for conservative causes, and its members include roughly two dozen Republican Virginia lawmakers." (Virginian Pilot, March 8, 2014)
  • Via ProgressVA:

    • Since 2001, state taxpayers have picked up an over $300,000 tab for legislators' participation at ALEC conferences where they meet behind closed doors with out-of-state lobbyists. In addition to paying for travel and 5-star accommodations, taxpayers also pay for "additional compensation" for legislators to attend these meetings, beyond their salary.

    • 72 private corporations and 19 non-profit entities have cut ties with ALEC.

    • In December 2013, The Guardian published internal documents revealing ALEC was considering branching into new issue areas based on the amount of revenue potential partner corporations could bring in the door. Perhaps even more disturbing, the Guardian revealed ALEC considered asking their state chairs to take a loyalty oath, pledging to put ALEC first.

    • In 2013, ALEC created an affiliated 501c4 organization called the Jeffersonian Project, which is controlled by ALEC's board of directors, to lobby on their behalf.

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Ending ALEC's influence in Richmond

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February 11, 2014

The Daily Press reported yesterday, "The Virginia Senate added an extra sentence to its ethics bill during today's floor debate that would prohibit legislators from getting reimbursed for the cost of attending, for lack of a less provocative phrase, secret meetings. That fits a handful of things, but most notably ALEC - the American Legislative Exchange Council. This group suggests model legislation across the country. It's on the right of the political spectrum, and it caught a lot of heat a while back because one of its model bills was based on Florida's stand-your-ground law, which of course was at issue in Trayvon Martin's death."

Progressive Point: Our elected leaders should be moderating the influence of special interests -- not doing their bidding in Richmond. Virginians are fed up with out-of-touch politicians who would rather listen to corporate-front groups like ALEC than their own constituents. Restoring accountability to Richmond means ending the expenditure of taxpayer dollars for out-of-state closed-door meetings with lobbyists.

Working Virginians will not trust politicians who are on the take. If corporations want to influence policy in Virginia, they should play by the same rules as everyone else: register as a lobbyist and do their work out in the open. Instead, our tax dollars are paying for our representatives to meet with corporate lobbyists behind closed doors and plan legislation to increase their corporate bottom lines. That's not democracy by and for the people.

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Get the Facts:

  • Via ProgressVA:
    • Legislators and advocates, at a press conference on January 21, 2014, called for an end to taxpayer funding for American Legislative Exchange Council conferences, citing the lack of disclosure around meetings and the controversial nature of the organization.

    • Since 2001, state taxpayers have picked up an over $300,000 tab for legislators' participation at ALEC conferences where they meet behind closed doors with out-of-state lobbyists. In addition to paying for travel and 5-star accommodations, taxpayers also pay for "additional compensation" for legislators to attend these meetings, beyond their salary.

    • Senator Donald McEachin has introduced SB500, a measure designed to limit taxpayer funding for private meetings. The bill would prohibit state reimbursement for legislators' attendance at meetings and conferences where the agenda and conference materials are not available to the public.

    • 72 private corporations and 19 non-profit entities have cut ties with ALEC.

    • In December 2013, The Guardian published internal documents revealing ALEC was considering branching into new issue areas based on the amount of revenue potential partner corporations could bring in the door. Perhaps even more disturbing, the Guardian revealed ALEC considered asking their state chairs to take a loyalty oath, pledging to put ALEC first.
    • In 2013, ALEC created an affiliated 501c4 organization called the Jeffersonian Project, which is controlled by ALEC's board of directors, to lobby on their behalf.

    • Virginia elected officials can accept unlimited gifts as long as they disclose any gift worth more than $50. And officials do not have to report gifts given to their family members. (Washington Post)

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December 5, 2013

The Guardian reports, "An influential US lobbying network of Republican politicians and big businesses is seeking to avert a looming funding crisis by appealing to major donors that have abandoned it over the past two years following criticism of its policy on gun laws. The Guardian has learned that the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), which shapes and promotes legislation at state level across the US, has identified more than 40 lapsed corporate members it wants to attract back into the fold... The documents obtained by the Guardian include a variety of papers prepared for Alec's board of directors... Among them is a draft agreement that was prepared for Alec's board of directors that set out the proposed responsibilities of the group's state chairs from prominent, largely Republican, legislators. The draft agreement contains the proposed commitment from state chairs that: 'I will act with care and loyalty and put the interests of the organization first.'"

Progressive Point: Our elected leaders should be protecting Virginia against special interests, not doing their bidding in Richmond. Not only is the corporate front group ALEC ghostwriting Virginia's laws and influencing our legislators, but representatives under ALEC's influence are now blatantly pledging to put special interests first above voters. ALEC already works with state legislators to introduce bills written and endorsed by corporate lobbyists, with zero disclosure. Now they are asking legislators pledge allegiance to ALEC above their constituents, as well.

ALEC's primary purpose is to influence legislation at the state level, yet for years it has claimed on its tax returns it isn't spending a penny on lobbying. If you want to influence policy in Virginia or anywhere else, you need to play by the same rules as everyone else: register as a lobbyist and do your work out in the open. Now, new evidence makes it clear that ALEC has misled reporters, the public, its members, and even the IRS. Policies designed to block accountability aren't good for our Commonwealth or our country. We need leaders who work for us, not corporate front groups like the ALEC.

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Get the Facts:

  • Leaked ALEC documents obtained by the Guardian show:
  • ALEC "has set up a separate sister group called the 'Jeffersonian Project' amid concerns over possible government inquiries into whether its activities constitute lobbying - which would threaten its tax-exempt status;
  • the network has suffered a decline in its membership among state-based Republicans and among big corporations following the Trayvon Martin controversy;
  • its income raised from conferences, membership fees and donations has fallen short, leaving the group with a potential funding crisis;
  • a draft agreement prepared for the board meeting proposed that" ALEC's "chairs in each of the 50 states, who are drawn from senior legislators, should be required to put the interests of the organisation first, thus setting up a possible conflict of interest with the voters who elected them;"
  • ALEC "also considered extending its remit to include the gambling industry, particularly online gambling, as a possible source of new members and revenue."

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September 13, 2013

The Loudoun Times reports, "State Del. Tag Greason (R-32nd) says he has yet to meet a single parent in his Loudoun County district who doesn't support his school grading bill approved by the General Assembly in 2013, but his critics are questioning the brain trust behind the seemingly straightforward legislation... Yet in recent weeks, Greason's critics, including Democrat Elizabeth Miller -- Greason's challenger in the Nov. 5 election -- have pointed to the fact that A-F grading has been a lobbying point of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative think tank that promotes limited government and free markets."

Progressive Point: We need leaders who work for us, not corporate front groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC works with state legislatures to introduce bills written and endorsed by corporate lobbyists, with zero disclosure. These sorts of policies aren't good for Virginia and they're not good for our community schools. Helping our children succeed in an increasingly global economy should be the driving force behind public education decisions, not helping national conservative organizations who want to make a buck off our kids.

If corporations want to influence policy in Virginia, they should play by the same rules as everyone else: register as a lobbyist and do their work out in the open. Instead, our tax dollars are paying for our representatives to meet with corporate lobbyists behind closed doors, to plan legislation to increase their corporate bottom lines. That's not democracy by and for the people. Our elected leaders should be protecting Virginia against corporate special interests -- not doing their bidding in Richmond.

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Get the Facts: via ProgressVA Education Fund:

  •  
    • Voucher and virtual education legislation introduced in Virginia was drawn from ALEC models, carried by ALEC legislative members, and, in the case of virtual schools, benefitted ALEC corporate members.
    • K12, Inc., a key member of ALEC's Education Task Force, has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Governor Bob McDonnell and state legislators. K12 lobbied hard for 2010 legislation establishing private virtual schools in Virginia and then profited off of loopholes that allowed them to collect large per-student fees.
    • K12's Virginia Virtual Academy fell behind on 20 of 22 measures of testing student achievement when compared to face-to-face instruction. Carroll County has since suspended their sponsorship of the program.

ALEC provides Virginia members with "issue alerts," "talking points," and "press release templates" expressing support or opposition to state legislation, despite its claims that "ALEC does not lobby in any state." As detailed in ProgressVA's 2012 report, "ALEC Exposed", ALEC model legislation has been frequently introduced in Virginia's legislature, at times word for word. The 2012 report also found the Commonwealth had spent over $230,000 in public funds to subsidize legislators' participation in these meetings with corporate lobbyists.

Despite claims to the contrary, ALEC's agenda is not based upon ideology, but rather upon financial rewards for its corporate funders. Corporate lobbyists work behind closed doors to draft legislation designed to benefit their bottom lines. Virginia has seen a range of the resulting ALEC "model bills" that have been adopted by ALEC "task forces" introduced in the General Assembly. To read the original report on ALEC's impact on public policy in Virginia, please see "ALEC Exposed: Who is writing Virginia's laws?"

To review the new report on ALEC's impact on education policy, please see ALEC v Kids.

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June 27, 2013

This morning, ProgressVA Education Fund released a new report detailing the damaging influence the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate front group, has on public education policy in Virginia and across the country. The report, entitled ALEC v Kids, documents the growing footprint that ALEC has in Virginia, and across the country, including its unprecedented access to elected officials and the drafting of 'model' education policy designed to benefit ALEC's corporate funders which compliant lawmakers then push into law.

Progressive Point: Virginia voters deserve a state legislature that works for them--not the for-profit education industrial complex. Big corporations are profiting off of our children and they are using the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate front group, to push legislation designed to privatize our community schools.

When it comes to public education, one question should guide us: What is best for our students? Ensuring our kids receive a world class education that prepares them to succeed in a global economy must be our first priority when it comes to public education, not how much money big corporations can make in the process. Thanks to ALEC, private interests are overshadowing the needs of those attending and working in our public schools. We need to put children, not profits, first.

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Get the Facts: via ProgressVA Education Fund:

Among the report's key findings:

  • Voucher and virtual education legislation introduced in Virginia was drawn from ALEC models, carried by ALEC legislative members, and, in the case of virtual schools, benefitted ALEC corporate members.
  • K12, Inc., a key member of ALEC's Education Task Force, has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Governor Bob McDonnell and state legislators. K12 lobbied hard for 2010 legislation establishing private virtual schools in Virginia and then profited off of loopholes that allowed them to collect large per-student fees.
  • K12's Virginia Virtual Academy fell behind on 20 of 22 measures of testing student achievement when compared to face-to-face instruction. Carroll County has since suspended their sponsorship of the program.

ALEC provides Virginia members with "issue alerts," "talking points," and "press release templates" expressing support or opposition to state legislation, despite its claims that "ALEC does not lobby in any state." As detailed in ProgressVA's 2012 report, "ALEC Exposed", ALEC model legislation has been frequently introduced in Virginia's legislature, at times word for word. The 2012 report also found the Commonwealth had spent over $230,000 in public funds to subsidize legislators' participation in these meetings with corporate lobbyists.

Despite claims to the contrary, ALEC's agenda is not based upon ideology, but rather upon financial rewards for its corporate funders. Corporate lobbyists work behind closed doors to draft legislation designed to benefit their bottom lines. Virginia has seen a range of the resulting ALEC "model bills" that have been adopted by ALEC "task forces" introduced in the General Assembly. To read the original report on ALEC's impact on public policy in Virginia, please see "ALEC Exposed: Who is writing Virginia's laws?"

To review the new report on ALEC's impact on education policy, please see ALEC v Kids.

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Our final list of Virginia elected official attendees to the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) annual conference in Salt Lake City included:

  • Delegate Riley Ingram
  • Delegate John Cosgrove
  • House Majority Leader Kirk Cox
  • Delegate Terry Kilgore
  • Delegate James Massie
  • Delegate Kathy Byron
  • Delegate Mark Dudenhefer
  • Delegate Jim LeMunyon
  • Delegate Tim Hugo
  • Speaker William Howell
  • State Senator Ryan McDougle

For more information be sure to check out "ALEC Exposed: Who's Writing Virginia's Laws" at www.ProgressVA.org/alec

My Week at ALEC Part 2: Their Agenda

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By Anna Scholl

The week before ALEC's annual conference, ProgressVA and Virginians for Responsible Gun Laws requested meetings with the Virginia legislators attending the conference to learn about the discussions happening behind closed doors and what legislation might be coming back to Virginia. Unsurprisingly, we didn't get a very positive response. In fact, no one agreed. So Lori Haas from VRGL and I did a little reconnaissance to find out what was going on behind those closed doors.

While ALEC may have dissolved the controversial Public Safety and Elections Task Force earlier this year, in response to outrage over Stand Your Ground and Voter ID, former Task Force Chair the National Rifle Association is just as involved as ever. The NRA's booth was the largest and most prominent in the exhibit hall and Chuck Cunningham, the NRA's Political Director, was schmoozing it up with legislators. Saturday afternoon the NRA even hosted a trap shoot for legislators and lobbyists to wine, dine, and relax together.

Can Tobacco Cure Smoking_-1.jpgPerhaps the most absurd item on ALEC's agenda last week was a seminar entitled "Can Tobacco Cure Smoking?" The seminar was led by Dr. Brad Rodu, whose chair at the University of Louisville is primarily funded by US Smokeless Tobacco, a prominent ALEC member.

Grand America.jpgOpulent chandeliers. A 5 Diamond resort. And corporate lobbyists everywhere. The legislators attending the American Legislative Exchange Council's annual conference in Salt Lake City sure weren't roughing it. 

The annual ALEC conference last week at the Grand America Resort in Salt Lake City Utah featured legislators and corporate lobbyists coming together behind closed doors to craft and vote on model legislation to them be introduced in state houses across the country, like Virginia, with no disclosure of from whence it came. The corporate largesse was evident early, with scattered signs thanking (Koch-brothers funded) Americans for Prosperity and the American Insurance Association for providing snacks at the bar. ALEC definitely doesn't miss an opportunity to squeeze corporate sponsors for money.

ALEC Snacks Sponsorship.jpg

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27, 2012
Contact: Lori Haas, Virginians for Responsible Gun Laws, (804) 399-4893
Anna Scholl, ProgressVA, (434) 218-2113anna@progressva.org

IN WAKE OF AURORA SHOOTINGS, WHY ARE 12 VIRGINIA LEGISLATORS SPENDING TAXPAYER MONEY ON AN ORGANIZATION WITH 17-YEAR HISTORY OF OPPOSING COMMONSENSE VIOLENCE PREVENTION?

Public should ask if the continued use of taxpayer funds to subsidize the American Legislative Exchange Council is inappropriate

Salt Lake City, UT - In light of the July 20th shooting in Aurora, Colorado, it's time for Virginia families to question why Virginia legislators continue to spend taxpayer funds on an organization that has opposed commonsense gun violence prevention measures for over seventeen years. Twelve Virginia legislators are currently in Salt Lake City at the closed-door American Legislative Exchange Council conference. Since at least 1995, ALEC, at the urging of member and sponsor, the National Rifle Association, has pushed model firearm legislation that destroys families and communities.   Of note, ALEC's model legislation initiatives include a "Resolution on Semi-Automatic Firearms" that opposes bans on weapons like the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Assault Rifle equipped with a 100 round drum magazine that James Holmes used to kill or injure 70 Americans in Aurora, CO

Since 1995, ALEC has pushed legislation roundly opposed by Virginia families, including attempts to legalize guns on campus and to force Virginia to recognize concealed handgun permits from other states whose standards are not as tough as ours.

While ALEC has recently attempted to distance itself from its own radical record on gun policy, the events here in Salt Lake City tell a different story. Far from being disowned, the National Rifle Association is a prominent exhibitor in the conference hall. Chuck Cunningham, political director at the NRA, is in attendance and meeting with legislators and the NRA is sponsoring a trip to a local shooting range on the last day of the conference.

Virginia families need to know why legislators who are members of ALEC continue spend taxpayer funds in support of an organization with such a dangerous public safety record. 

Lori Haas, the mother of a VA Tech shooting survivor who is in Salt Lake City this week, said,  "Legislators are entitled to their own opinions, but not to use taxpayer dollars to subsidize campaigns for irresponsible and dangerous public policy. As was made clear again this week, assault weapons are deadly instruments of war designed with one purpose--to kill and wound large numbers of people--and have no place in our communities. The more we learn about ALEC, from their support of Stand Your Ground Laws to advocating for Assault Weapons in our communities, it's clear they have a long record of opposition to measures combating gun violence that cannot be redeemed. It's past time for our elected representatives to stop spending our dollars to support such radical positions."

###

Virginians for Responsible Gun Laws, a project of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, seeks to secure freedom from gun violence through research, strategic engagement and effective policy advocacy. 

ProgressVA is a multi-issue, progressive advocacy organization devoted to engaging citizens from across the Commonwealth around issues of immediate state and local concern. www.ProgressVA.org

alec.jpgNext week, at least 12 Virginia legislators will head to Salt Lake City, Utah to meet with corporate lobbyists behind closed doors at the 39th Annual American Legislative Exchange Council conference. If that name sounds familiar, it's probably because ALEC has been in the news recently as 26 corporations, 4 nonprofits, and 55 state legislators have fled the organization as their extreme and controversial agenda has been exposed.

You may remember from our January report that Commonwealth taxpayers have already spent over $230,000 on sending our representatives off to these conferences. Those numbers are about to tick upwards as most of those 12 legislators will again be traveling on the taxpayer dime. While they're in Salt Lake City, those Delegates and Senators will be meeting with lobbyists to find more corporate-sponsored bills in ALEC's arsenal to bring home and add to the 50+ ALEC bills that have been introduced in Virginia.

But this year, something is going to be different. Thanks to FOIA requests, we've identified the 12 legislators who are attending. So next week, ProgressVA and Virginians for Responsible Gun Laws are heading off to Salt Lake City as well. We're asking all 12 legislators to find just half an hour for us out in Utah to talk about what they're learning in closed sessions and find out what ALEC bills they intend to introduce in the 2013 General Assembly session.

I'll be reporting back right here at Blue Virginia (and also at ProgressVA) all next week about the happenings and sightings in SLC. Have a question about ALEC for the legislators who are attending? Leave a comment right here and we'll try to get you an answer.

Want more information about why you should be concerned about ALEC? Stick with me after the jump!

 

Just last week ProgressVA, along with some great progressive allies, participated in a forum on the corporate front group the American Legislative Exchange Council and their role in writing our laws. It was a great event with a fully packed room and we appreciate everyone who was able to attend and watch online. Additionally, the entire event is now available on YouTube.

Some quotes and highlights after the jump.

Let's talk about ALEC!

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Let's talk! This Thursday, I'm going to be in Arlington to join great progressive allies for a forum on the corporate front group American Legislative Exchange Council and their role in writing our laws. I know you've heard a lot about ALEC from Brian and me, so this is a great opportunity to hear more about ALEC's influence in Virginia and across the country from smart folks like Tom Perriello. Please see the invite below for all the details. I hope to see you there. If you do make it out, please come say hello--I'd love to meet you!

Anna

July 12 Forum on "Purchasing Democracy:
The Role of ALEC in Writing Our Laws"

Thursday, July 12, 2012, 7:00 to 9:00 PM

Join us for a forum on July 12 about the role of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in writing state laws. Delegate Patrick Hope will moderate a panel discussion about ALEC's mission and tactics, which put corporate profit ahead of public interest. The forum will be held in Arlington, VA.

WHAT:
July 12 Forum - "Purchasing Democracy: The Role of ALEC in Writing Our Laws"

WHO:
            Delegate Patrick A. Hope, Virginia General Assembly
            Kim Anderson, Director, Center for Advocacy , National Education Association
            Diallo K. Brooks, Director, Field Mobilization, People for the American Way
            Doug Clopp, Deputy Program Director, Common Cause
            Tom Perriello, Former Congressman (VA-5)
            Anna Scholl, Executive Director, ProgressVA
            Naomi Walker, Director, State Government Relations, AFL-CIO

WHERE:
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, 4301 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22203
Map: http://mapq.st/KqMXxi

WHEN:
Thursday, July 12, 2012, 7:00 to 9:00 PM

June 5, 2012

The Washington Post reports, "Virginia Democrats are urging state legislators to leave a conservative group that has been under fire in recent weeks... Party leaders adopted a resolution at this weekend's convention to urge legislators to leave ALEC, to both 'expose and reverse or amend ALEC-drafted bills already passed in Virginia' and block future ALEC bills."

Progressive Point: Progressive Point: Virginia voters have made it clear they want their elected officials to represent their interests and values. Over the weekend, progressives from across the Commonwealth called on their representatives to follow the lead of over 40 of their fellow legislators in distancing themselves from the corporate front-group ALEC.

Not only is ALEC ghostwriting Virginia's laws and influencing our legislators, but legislators under ALEC's influence are using our tax dollars to travel to their closed-door meetings. We thank those legislators who are publicly standing with Virginia families--but Virginians need all our legislators to be accountable to us.

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Get the Facts: Via ProgressVA:

  • 50 of Virginia's current 140 State Senators and Delegates have communicated that are not affiated with ALEC.

  • Over the past few weeks, 16 corporations, 4 nonprofits and over 50 state legislators have left the organization.

  • ALEC is a corporate front group that ghost writes a range of anti-family legislation, including efforts to privatize schools, roll back clean air and water protections, encourage vigilante justice, and suppress the vote.

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Break the silence on ALEC

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May 31, 2012

The Virginian-Pilot reported yesterday, "A press release issued today identifies and praises 35 Virginia state lawmakers for NOT belonging to a national lobby group. The legislators responded to a query from ProgressVA, a liberal group, that they do not belong to the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a conservative organization that has come under attack lately on the left... It churns out model legislation that's introduced in state capitals around the country by its legislative members, including some from Virginia."

Progressive Point: Putting Virginia's families first isn't a partisan priority--it's one that we all share. Since sharing our list of where our legislators stand yesterday, nine new Virginia lawmakers, from both sides of the aisle, have made the choice to stand with their constituents and not the corporate front group ALEC.

Virginia voters deserve a state legislature that works for them and legislators who are honest about their affiliations--however, many of our representatives are still hiding behind a wall of silence. The legislature must work for all of Virginia's families, not just donors with the deepest pockets. While many of our representatives are choosing to keep quiet because they want to hide their ALEC affiliations from Virginia voters, the rest need a reminder that corruption flourishes when good people remain silent.

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Get the Facts:

  • Recently, 16 corporations, 4 nonprofits, and over 50 legislators have eneded their support for ALEC folling increased scrutiny of the group. (The Washington Post, May 30, 2012)

  • "At least 115 current or former legislators have had ties to ALEC, either by sponsoring bills, attending conferences or paying membership dues, according to a study by ProgressVA from last year. The state has spent $232,000 during the past decade to send legislators, primarily members of the Republican-controlled House of Delegates, to ALEC conferences and meetings." (The Washington Post, May 30, 2012)

  • ALEC has helped author more than 60 bills in Virginia, including legislation pushed by House Speaker Bill Howell--a former national chairman of ALEC. (The Washington Post, May 30, 2012)

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 30, 2012
Contact: Anna Scholl
anna@progressva.org
(434) 218-2113

ProgressVA applauds bipartisan group of legislators for choosing constituents over out-of-state corporations

While 35 legislators stand with their constituents, 105 lawmakers refuse to comment on their affiliation with ALEC 

ProgressVA today commended 35 Virginia lawmakers from both parties for declaring that they are not members of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a notorious corporate front group that has influenced Virginia legislation for years. The legislators responded to requests from constituents and ProgressVA asking them to state whether or not they are associated with ALEC. Over the past few weeks, 16 corporations, 4 nonprofits and over 50 state legislators have left the organization. ALEC is a corporate front group that ghost writes a range of anti-family legislation, including efforts to privatize schools, roll back clean air and water protections, encourage vigilante justice, and suppress the vote.

"We applaud these 35 legislators for putting their constituents first," said ProgressVA Executive Director Anna Scholl. "Unfortunately, a majority of Virginia's legislators still refuse to respond to requests from constituents to disclose their ties to ALEC. Delegates and Senators are the people's representatives. They should be putting our interests first--not corporate lobbyists."

Thirty-eight current Virginia legislators are known members of ALEC. However, since ALEC does not publish its membership lists, it is impossible to know the full list with certainty. Therefore, all Virginia legislators must disclose their ties.

The 35 legislators stating they are not members of ALEC are:

 

  • Senator George Barker
  • Delegate Bob Brink
  • Delegate David Bulova
  • Delegate Betsy Carr
  • Delegate Anne Crockett-Stark
  • Senator Creigh Deeds
  • Senator Adam Ebbin
  • Senator John Edwards
  • Delegate David Englin
  • Delegate Peter Farrell
  • Senator Barbara Favola
  • Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn
  • Senator Thomas Garrett
  • Delegate Gordon Helsel
  • Delegate Charniele Herring
  • Senator Mark Herring
  • Delegate Patrick Hope
  • Senator Janet Howell
  • Delegate Barry Knight
  • Delegate Lynwood Lewis
  • Delegate Alfonso Lopez
  • Senator David Marsden
  • Delegate Jennifer McClellan
  • Senator Donald McEachin
  • Delegate Donald Merricks
  • Delegate J. Randall Minchew
  • Delegate Joseph Morrissey
  • Delegate Kenneth Plum
  • Delegate Richard Saslaw
  • Delegate James Scott
  • Delegate Mark Sickles
  • Delegate Scott Surovell
  • Delegate David Toscano
  • Senator Jill Holtzman Vogel
  • Delegate Vivian Watts

A full of legislators with ties to ALEC and those refusing to disclose their affiliation is available atwww.progressva.org/alec-sides.html ProgressVA will continue to update the list as legislators respond to calls from their constituents.

For more information:

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ProgressVA is a multi-issue progressive advocacy organization dedicated to engaging citizens from across the Commonwealth around issues of immediate state or local concern. www.ProgressVA.org

Putting profits above public safety

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May 1, 2012

The Institute for Southern Studies reports, "After the massive TVA Kingston disaster inundated a Tennessee community and two rivers with a billion gallons of coal ash in 2008, it appeared the tide was turning for the largely unregulated toxic waste produced by burning coal for electricity. But for four years, the energy industry has successfully fought off federal regulations -- thanks in part to the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has close ties to energy companies with a financial interest in blocking strict oversight of coal ash."

Progressive Point: Putting profits above public safety is just plain wrong. But corporate front-group ALEC and their legislative allies have been working behind the scenes to kill environmental regulations designed to protect us from the life-threatening dangers of coal ash--all for the sake of protecting coal company profits.

Our elected officials cannot mistake our well-being for the well-being of coal companies. Our representatives need to put our health and safety above coal industry bottom lines.

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Get the Facts:

  • Coal ash is "waste that contains heavy metals and other health-damaging pollutants and has been linked to over 150 cases of environmental damages, most involving water contamination." (Institute for Southern Studies, April 30, 2012)

  • American Electric Power, which has operations in Virginia, "is a member of ALEC's Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force and was a financial sponsor of ALEC's 2011 conference, according to ALEC Exposed." (Institute for Southern Studies, April 30, 2012)

  • ALEC has spent over $70,000 feting Virginia legislators. (ProgressVA)

  • Over 50 bills drawn from ALEC sources have been introduced in the Virginia General Assembly in the past few years. (ProgressVA)

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April 18, 2012

The Virginia Progressive Caucus held a news conference today "to highlight Virginia's involvement in ALEC and to call on the General Assembly to cease using taxpayer dollars to send legislators to future ALEC conferences. Delegate Patrick A. Hope, co-chair of the Virginia Progressive Caucus said, 'We are now learning that ALEC is a corporate-front group that is the ultimate "pay to play" organization. Those who can write the biggest check can get an audience of eager legislators willing to shop their corporate interest across the nation in the form of legislation.'"

Progressive Point: Virginia voters deserve a state legislature that works for them. It's simple: we voted for our representatives, not corporate-front groups like ALEC. Virginians and Americans across the country are making it clear--they want their legislators to cut ties with ALEC, and many companies that once backed ALEC have gotten the message. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Mars Inc., Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, Intuit, McDonald's, Wendy's--the list goes on.

But today, many of our own legislators are showing just how out-of-touch they are with Virginia voters by choosing to keep their ties to ALEC. We don't want our tax dollars to pay for their junkets, we don't want our representative introducing their bills, and we don't want them putting the wants of the 1% and big corporations above the needs of Virginia families. It's simple: choose Virginia families, not corporate-front groups like ALEC.

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Get the Facts: Via ProgressVA:

  • Between 2001 and 2010, the Commonwealth of Virginia spent over $230,000 to send legislators to ALEC conferences in order to meet with corporate lobbyists behind closed doors.

  • ALEC has spent over $70,000 feting Virginia legislators.

  • Over 50 bills drawn from ALEC sources have been introduced in the Virginia General Assembly in the past few years.

  • At least 115 current or former Virginia legislators have ties to ALEC.

  • Speaker William Howell is a member of ALEC's national leadership team. In 2009, he served as the group's national chairman. Howell's involvement with ALEC has transferred down to the state level: he has asked several of his colleagues to carry ALEC bills and approved the expenditure of taxpayer money to send his colleagues to ALEC conferences.

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For Immediate Release
April 17, 2012
Contact: Anna Scholl
(434) 218-2113
anna@progressva.org

ProgressVA Launches Campaign Calling On VA Legislators To Quit ALEC

10 companies have fled corporate front group while Virginia lawmakers remain silent

ProgressVA today launched a new campaign urging Virginia legislators to cut ties with the controversial corporate front group, American Legislative Exchange Council. Ten major companies have left the organization in recent days over the organization's push for Voter ID and "Stand Your Ground" legislation across the country.

Tom Perriello, former Virginia Congressman and current President of Center for American Progress Action, launched the campaign with a call to action to thousands of Virginians. "ALEC crafts bills that put their corporate funders ahead of consumers, assault public health and basic environmental protections, and systematically make it more difficult for Virginians to vote, reversing decades of progress since the Jim Crow era," said Perriello. "I encourage all Virginians to encourage their representatives to start prioritizing constituents over corporate donors."

A recent ProgressVA report detailed the full effect of ALEC--which allows large corporations to write big-business friendly bills and helps legislators advance this legislation on the state level--on Virginia's political system. At least 50 bills introduced in the General Assembly are directly traceable to ALEC and over $230,000 of taxpayer money has been spent sending legislators to ALEC junkets.

Center for American Progress Action recently released "Voter Suppression 101", a comprehensive report about ALEC and other groups' efforts to roll back progress on getting young people, communities of color and rural seniors to vote.

In recent days, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kraft, Intuit, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wendy's, Mars, Inc., Arizona Public Service, Reed Elsevier, and American Traffic Solutions have quit ALEC.

For more information:

### 

ProgressVA is a multi-issue progressive advocacy organization dedicated to engaging citizens from across the Commonwealth around issues of immediate state or local concern. www.ProgressVA.org

Via MSNBC: "Candy company Mars is the latest corporation to abandon the right-wing agenda group ALEC. Some ALEC-associated lawmakers are feeling the heat. Director of Progress VA Anna Scholl tells Ed Schultz about her confrontation with the Virginia Speaker of the House over his party's ties to ALEC."

Just the facts

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April 13, 2012

Yesterday, there was some news coverage of an exchange of ideas between ProgressVA and Virginia's Speaker of the House. The [Rachel] Maddow Blog shared, "The point of contention seemed to be over the taxpayer money Virginia spent to send lawmakers to ALEC events. ProgressVA's report [link] claimed that the trips cost the state roughly $230,000 over the last decade, while in reality, the trips cost the state ... roughly $230,000 over the last decade. Howell pointed to this as an inaccuracy, even though it's true, because Virginia also sent state lawmakers to a different conference that cost even more... That questions about ALEC are making its allies this uncomfortable suggests a shifting landscape for the organization."

Progressive Point: Virginians are frustrated with the economy and they are frustrated with out-of-touch politicians who would rather listen to corporate-front groups like ALEC than their own voters. We want a government that works for all of Virginia's families, not just those with the deepest pockets. But today, conservatives in Richmond are working for the 1% and their big business donors--and when they don't like the facts they get defensive, dishonest, and disheveled.

Virginia's Speaker of the house may not want to let the facts get in the way of a good story, but Virginians deserve and demand representatives who are honest and straightforward. Even though ALEC is getting nervous over the recent loss of several of its major corporate backers, it doesn't mean they and their mouthpieces can spin the facts to suit them. Virginia's voters want just the facts.

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Get the Facts: Via ProgressVA:

  • Between 2001 and 2010, the Commonwealth of Virginia spent over $230,000 to send legislators to ALEC conferences in order to meet with corporate lobbyists behind closed doors.

  • ALEC has spent over $70,000 feting Virginia legislators.

  • Over 50 bills drawn from ALEC sources have been introduced in the Virginia General Assembly in the past few years.

  • At least 115 current or former Virginia legislators have ties to ALEC.

  • Speaker William Howell is a member of ALEC's national leadership team. In 2009, he served as the group's national chairman. Howell's involvement with ALEC has transferred down to the state level: he has asked several of his colleagues to carry ALEC bills and approved the expenditure of taxpayer money to send his colleagues to ALEC conferences.

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