ALECWATCH Is a Corporate Watch Dog Group. Their site provides an article entitled, "Corporate America's Trojan Horse in the States - The Untold Story Behind the American Legislative Exchange Council"
A review of ALEC's publications, tax returns and news accounts show that ALEC's major benefactors have included:
Coors Brewing Company
Distilled Spirits Council of the United States
Miller Brewing Company
Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, Inc.
Seagram North America
Avis Rent a Car
Ford Motor Company
General Motors Corporation
American General Financial Group
American Express Company
Bank of America
Community Financial Services Corporation
Credit Card Coalition
Credit Union National Association, Inc.
Harris Trust & Savings Bank
LaSalle National Bank
J.P. Morgan & Company
Non-Bank Funds Transmitters Group
American Bail Corporation
Corrections Corporation of America
National Association of Bail Insurance Companies
American Petroleum Institute
BP America, Inc.
Mobil Oil Corporation
Phillips Petroleum Company
American Electric Power Association
American Gas Association
Center for Energy and Economic Development
Commonwealth Edison Company
Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc.
Edison Electric Institute
Independent Power Producers of New York
Koch Industries, Inc.
Mid-American Energy Company
Natural Gas Supply Association
PG&E Corporation/PG&E National Energy Group
U.S. Generating Company
American Physical Therapy Association
Baxter Healthcare Corporation
Alliance of American Insurers
Allstate Insurance Company
American Council of Life Insurance
American Insurance Association
Blue Cross and Blue Shield Corporation
Coalition for Asbestos Justice. (This organization
was formed in October 2000 to "explore new
judicial approaches to asbestos litigation." Its
members include ACE-USA, Chubb & Son,
CNA service mark companies, Fireman's
Fund Insurance Company, Hartford
Financial Services Group, Inc., Kemper
Insurance Companies, Liberty Mutual
Insurance Group, and St. Paul Fire and
Marine Insurance Company. Counsel to the
coalition is Victor E. Schwartz of the law
firm of Crowell & Moring in Washington,
D.C., a longtime ALEC ally.)
Golden Rule Insurance Company
Guarantee Trust Life Insurance
MEGA Life and Health Insurance Company
National Association of Independent Insurers
Nationwide Insurance/National Financial
State Farm Insurance Companies
Wausau Insurance Companies
Skelding, Labasky, Corry, Hauser, Metz & Daws
Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker
American Plastics Council
Archer Daniels Midland Corporation
AutoZone, Inc. (aftermarket automotive parts)
Chlorine Chemistry Council
Deere & Company
Fruit of the Loom
Grocery Manufacturers of America
Inland Steel Industries, Inc.
International Game Technology
Johnson & Johnson
Keystone Automotive Industries
Procter & Gamble
Sara Lee Corporation
American Lawyer Media, Inc.
R.R. Donnelly & Sons Company
The Washington Times
Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Eli Lilly & Company
Glaxo Wellcome, Inc.
Merck & Company, Inc.
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of
Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, Inc.
Smith, Kline & French
WYETH, a division of American Home
Wendy's International, Inc.
Americans for Technology Leadership
BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc.
National Cable and Telecommunications Association
SBC Communications, Inc.
UST Public Affairs, Inc.
Verizon Communications, Inc.
Cigar Association of America, Inc.
Lorillard Tobacco Company
Philip Morris Management Corporation
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company
Smokeless Tobacco Council
Air Transport Association of America
American Trucking Association
The Boeing Company
United Parcel Service
Corrections Corporation of America
Federated Department Stores
International Gold Corporation
Mary Kay Cosmetics
Newmont Mining Corporation
Sears, Roebuck & Company
Service Corporation International
Taxpayers Network, Inc.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Adolph Coors Foundation
Bell & Howell Foundation
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation
Grocery Manufacturers of America
Heartland Institute of Chicago
The Heritage Foundation
Iowans for Tax Relief
Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee
National Pork Producers Association
National Rifle Association
Shell Oil Company Foundation
Smith Richardson Foundation
Steel Recycling Institute
Tax Education Support Organization
Texas Educational Foundation
The foregoing corporations, organizations, associations and foundations are the backbone of American jobs. If they don't employ us they finance, oversee or in other ways enable associated companies to do so. They also represent the top 2-3% of wealth in the U.S. and wield as much as 97-98% of influence upon our society and government - state and federal. Prior to the forming of PAC's such as ALEC in 1973, they did not enjoy this amount of influence upon either.
Slowly they have purchased more and more influence over all of us by lobbying for changes in our laws that directly impact upon them. They have worked diligently to limit government regulation of their manufacturing, lending, investing, insurance provisions, healthcare, refining, food stuff and products, retail sales, mortgage financing, outsourcing of jobs, privatization of government programs and responsibilities and of utmost importance, education.
We must all keep in mind that government run programs are non-profit. Prisons, juvenile detention and immigrant detention facilities should all be for the safety of citizens and those incarcerated/detained at no profit. Privatizing such programs and turning them over to corporations to operate invites problems due to their for-profit goals. How safe are all of us if keeping us safe is a corporate responsibility, done for profit?
A brief look at ALEC's website reveals some of the most important legislative accomplishments they boast of: tort reform (placing caps on the amount of money that can be awarded to plaintiffs in cases against corporations), truth in sentencing laws (making it mandatory that offenders serve a minimum of 85% of any sentence imposed), mandatory minimum drug sentencing, privatization of state prisons and housing of prisoners and laws limiting government oversight.
The fact that ALEC claims it's organization is nonpartisan is refuted by the fact that of all their chair positions, every seat but one is held by a Republican. ALEC's mission is stated as:
The mission of the American Legislative Exchange Council is...
...to advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty, through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America's state legislators, members of the private sector, the federal government, and general public.
...to promote these principles by developing policies that ensure the powers of government are derived from, and assigned to, first the People, then the States, and finally, the Federal Government.
...to enlist state legislators from all parties and members of the private sector who share ALEC's mission.
...to conduct a policy making program that unites members of the public and private sectors in a dynamic partnership to support research, policy development, and dissemination activities.
...to prepare the next generation of political leadership through educational programs that promote the principles of Jeffersonian democracy, which are necessary for a free society."
As idealistic as the foregoing sounds, their actual "Mission" is to remove authority over corporations from both state and federal governments and in doing so to supplant that authority with corporate interests - as recently demonstrated in Arizona. They are willing to take whatever steps necessary to accomplish this mission, regardless of the impact upon our jobs, our safety, health and lives. The goal is profits at all costs and the manner in which to accomplish this without interference is privatization. ALEC expresses their desire to reduce government "interference" in all things corporate. Look at the Wall Street fiasco, Enron scandal, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the sub-prime lending scams in light of this series and you can clearly see the result of such privatization and deregulation. Not only did we lose equity in our homes and employment, we also have been forced to bail out the corporations that acted criminally and caused the financial collapse. This was all accomplished because corporations have powerful lobbyists and the support of thousands of our lawmakers with their hands in corporate pockets.
ALEC is not the only player in this Corporatocracy but they are the largest and most influential player. Insurance companies have spread their wealth from ALEC to other PAC's in an attempt to deflect national healthcare reform. Now that it passed (weaker than we wanted) they are working to repeal the legislation altogether. ALEC alone has 25 Insurance corporations and 16 pharmaceutical companies supporting them by providing funding. Is it now clear why Medicare is not allowed to negotiate for lower prices on drugs for Medicare participants? Or why a doctor can commit malpractice upon you or a loved one and you are limited in the amount of award due to "caps" set by legislation by our Courts? It's because of the influence through lobbying our lawmakers by the likes of ALEC and health and pharmaceutical corporations, as well as lobbying by lawmakers upon fellow lawmakers on behalf of their corporate supporters.
On the issue of prison labor and the Prison Industries Enhancement Certification Program (PIECP), corporations are using the program as a cash cow. Through head turning from the DOJ, OJP and BJA, corporations are using inmate labor to manufacture a myriad assortment of everyday, specialty, warfare and defense products. Jobs manufacturing these and other products used to belong to you and other private sector employees. Through lobbying for reductions in government oversight of the program, corporations are able to use PIECP as their "labor pool" and thus eliminate private sector jobs and wages. Those jobs that haven't gone to prisoners have gone overseas where wages are much lower than those corporations would have to pay workers here in the U.S. Have they been punished for removing these jobs from us? No, in fact they lobbied for and got government approval to take the jobs away and got a tax credit as a reward for taking your jobs.
Regarding prison labor, CCA and Geo Group are major players. They hold state and federal contracts to house prisoners. In most of their privately run prisons industrial facilities are attached and prisoners work in those facilities for less than the minimum wage in most cases. These corporations realize a profit from housing state and federal offenders on one hand and a profit from corporate run industries on the other.
The concluding segment on Corporatocracy (VI) will discuss the history behind the use of fear to control our society. Where it was started by our government and how and why it has been adopted by corporations to use against us and the government itself. I will also discuss the migration of ALEC concepts across the Atlantic to England and the involvement of foreign corporate interests in American politics and upon our society.