May 11, 2012

Cheesecake Lollipops And Crabcakes: Pennsylvania Taxpayers Have Spent $250,000 On ALEC

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is the most powerful corporate front group you’ve never heard of ,or at least until more than a dozen major corporations recently quit in the wake of the controversies over it pushing the “Stand Your Ground” laws. ALEC lets corporations write model legislation that it then secretly ships to state legislatures across the country. These bills — which do everything from attack your right to vote to privatize your schools — pass into law without citizens ever knowing that corporations wrote them.

But it gets worse. Not only is ALEC secretly coordinating with state legislators, but taxpayers are actually being asked to pay for some of the organization’s activities.

Keystone Progress did some research and found that Pennsylvania taxpayers have paid at least $250,000 since 2000 on junkets and other events that ALEC held with legislators. This spending includes “$3,000 for cheesecake lollipops, $3,600 for crabcakes made to order; junkets to Orlando, Las Vegas, Monterrey and other cities; dues for their legislators’ membership in ALEC; and at least $50,000 paid directly from the General Assembly to ALEC.”

One way ALEC is able to get away with bleeding taxpayer dollars from hardworking Pennsylvanians is by never officially registering as a lobbying group. But it’s undeniable that its work to give corporate-written legislation to lawmakers who pass ALEC’s bills all over the country is a particularly harmful form of lobbying. And now we know that Pennsylvania’s taxpayers are being asked to foot the bill for the corporate corruption of their own government.

  • Enoterman

    Is this story a repeat of this from last year? – http://www.salon.com/2011/07/28/denvir_alec/

    • Zaid Jilani

      The record request this time went back to 2000 so we know the larger extent of spending on ALEC in Penn. I’m sure they’re funding arrangements like this in many other states, though.

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  • Avaritia

    I wish I could feel sorry for them. The people of Pennsylvania lean Right very heavily and that’s what they get for their stupidity. It’s very hard to have sympathy for those who inflict such pain upon themselves willingly.

    • Not all people from Pennsylvania lean Right or are stupid. I am trying to get the word out to those who do not know about ALEC. I find it hard to believe in Pennsylvania with the background we came from and most of us believe in that most people would support this assault on our country once they understand what is going on. Most people truly believe the Constitution and Bill of rights are inspired documents and if they knew this assault on our belief system that this country was founded on and our forefathers fought for is being destroyed by immoral unethical legislators who are putting into law these “model laws” written by ALEC, they would fight back by the one thing we have left to fight with, our vote. I don’t care if a person is Republican or Democrat, when they understand what is going on and how truly evil ALEC is they couldn’t possibly back it, unless of course they are the legislators who benefit from ALEC or the corporations who back it. This, once understood will be the light bulb moment for most people as to why our middle class is being destroyed. One other point, people in any part of the country for the most part love their children and want them to have a better life and attempt to instill values such as honesty and integrity into their children’s psyche, not to mention a there is a law written by ALEC and put into law forbids the public from knowing what chemicals are used in fracking. We already know we are not taxing those who are mining for Marcellus shale but not knowing what very well may harm our children, that’s a whole ‘nuther matter. There are assaults on unions. Need I say what is going on with education? People are up in arms, perhaps main stream news is not talking about how in Philly there were masses of people who gathered recently concerned and rightfully so regarding the changes in education that ALEC made happen. I will leave it up to the reader to look up the model law concerning education. Please remember one other thing, this is national. Let us educate and empower the public without insulting them, I think the public has been taken advantage of and abused enough. It should never have happened, but now that we know about it, please educate others in any way you can.

      • Avaritia

        That is exactly what baffles me about the people of Pennsylvania in particular. Considering their history and what they came out of and they bringing themselves back down into the coal mines again for a buck or two a day. Good luck to you educating them though.

  • Susan Powers

    How can a non-profit get away with this, ghost writing laws that benefit those those that have a vested interest? It’s certainly not a non profit. That’s the least of it, we vote for legislators, not ALEC. Those that belong to this group and wrote laws reflecting the laws that ALEC wrote and the lawmakers and ALEC benefit from should be censured if not worse. This is disgusting. So many Americans have been adversely affected by these laws that subjugate the masses and benefit the wealthy who founded and belong to ALEC. This MUST be stopped and the laws reversed. I am appalled at the pure evil of this organization and the ELECTED legislators who belong to ALEC. Shame on you that swore to uphold the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and betrayed our trust and caused real and lasting harm to many.

  • Susan Powers

    Note this group, ALEC is nationwide: I am referring only to Pennsylvania in this post.
    At Least 6 Bills Introduced In Pennsylvania In 2011 Were Linked To ALEC Model Legislation. According to ALEC Exposed:

    HB 1349 (referred to State Government 4/13/11) “amending the act of June 25, 1982 (P.L.633, No.181), known as the Regulatory Review Act.”Compare to ALEC’s “Regulatory Flexibility Act.”
    HB 250 “Council on Efficient Government Act” Referred to STATE GOVERNMENT: 12/26/11 in House. (Sponsors: GROVE, BOYD, CLYMER, DENLINGER, GRELL, KAUFFMAN, PYLE, SWANGER, MURT, KAVULICH and TRUITT). Looks like ALEC’s “Council on Efficient Government Act.”
    HB 2053 (sent to State Government 1/26/11) “establishing the Council on Efficient Government.”Compare to ALEC’s “Council on Efficient Government Act.”
    HB 42 (sent to Appropriations committee 2/8/11) “providing for the rights of individuals to purchase private health care insurance.”Compare to ALEC’s “Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act.”
    HB 934 (referred to State Government 6/28/11) “known as the Pennsylvania Election Code, in preliminary provisions, defining “proof of identification”; in the Secretary of the Commonwealth, providing for requirements relating to voter identification; and, in preparation for and conduct of primaries and elections, further providing for manner of applying to vote, persons entitled to vote, voter’s certificates, entries to be made in district register, numbered lists of voters and challenges.” Compare with ALEC’s “Voter ID Act”
    SB 218 (referred to Banking and Insurance committee 1/21/11) “establishing the Pennsylvania High-Risk Health Insurance Pool, the Pennsylvania High-Risk Health Insurance Pool Fund and the State Comprehensive Health Insurance Pool Board.” Compare to ALEC’s “High-Risk Health Insurance Pool Model Act.” [ALECExposed.org, accessed 5/2/12, emphasis original]

    HB 934 Subsequently Became Law When It Was Signed By Gov. Corbett (R) In March. According to NBC Philadelphia:

    Pennsylvania became home to one of the nation’s toughest voter identification measures Wednesday, a prelude to a likely legal challenge just as judges at various levels move to analyze a number of other new state laws that make similar demands of voters.

    Republican-controlled legislatures in Pennsylvania and around the country have actively pursued photo ID laws ahead of the 2012 presidential election in what supporters say is an attempt to stop voter fraud. [NBC Philadelphia, 3/15/12]

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