February 15, 2012

Minnesota Governor Calls Out Corporate Front Group ALEC, Vetoes Its Bills

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D)

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a secretive corporate front group funded by Big Business that works to pass corporate-friendly bills in state legislatures. It has grown so powerful that it now has nearly one-third of all state legislators under its umbrella.

ALEC has worked with legislators to pass bills ranging from issues as diverse as stripping unionized workers of their rights to to making it harder for low-income citizens to vote. It is usually able to do so because it hands its corporate-written template bills to state legislators and gets them passed without any public scrutiny as to the origin of this legislation.

Late last week, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) decided that corporate front groups like ALEC should not be able to write his state’s laws. Dayton decided to veto a series of “tort reform” bills that would’ve restricted the rights of citizens to sue to hold big corporations responsible. In a press conference discussing his vetoes, Dayton condemned ALEC for providing the templates for the bills. “I’ve found that Minnesotans do not want their laws written by the lobbyists of big corporations,” said Dayton. Watch it:

ALEC has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months. In November, a Florida legislator introduced a bill that still had ALEC’s name written into it — they had apparently forgotten to edit out the organization’s branding from the legislation before entering it into the record, as is usually the case. To learn more about the secretive corporate front group, visit www.alecexposed.org.

  • RHytonen

    Simple computerized word match with #ALEC boilerplates.

    Better than 50% Match? Automatic VETO.

  • Anonymous

    Kudos to this governor for calling a spade a spade. I hope Minnesotans will recognize his integrity for what it is and vote more people like him into office.

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  • Governor Dayton is the BEST! A true Minnesotan looking out for the people of the state!

    • Susie Howell

      Governor Dayton: Please come to Florida and teach Rick Scott how to be a decent person.

  • Dav

    YES minnesota has some of the best people in goverment

    • Anonymous

      It does. Also some of the worst. Not a boring state. You had Paul Wellstone; a lot of people thought he might be president one day. Franken turns out to be outstanding at his job.

  • Marcie

    Minnesota native here, living in Wisconsin, and so jealous of my home state. Looks like you have the anti-Walker over there. Good for you. May we be so lucky after we recall our ALEC-sycophant governor.

    I love Minnesota.

    • Anonymous

      Wisconsinite here, saying your governor will be, historically, one of the heroes of the resistance to corporate seizure of the states and the nation. This is not the first time he’s figuratively stood in front of a Koch bulldozer for his state.

      Your state is the only one in the ALEC upper midwest project that has not fallen into line and elected the governor ALEC gave them through the Republican party (although we hope to correct that soon in Wisconsin). I have been immensely proud of Wisconsin this past year, picking up and moving forward its 150-year history of academic and personal freedom for its people, but I have not been unaware of Governor Dayton’s leadership in Minnesota.

      The best and most courageous thing he has done is right here on this video. Do you realize that no politician and very few daily news sources even mention ALEC by name, and Governor Dayton stood up and identified its laws and called it out? Take care of him; his enemies are powerful and they will do whatever it takes to get him out of your capitol.

      • Marcie

        Very well said, fionamacknz. Thank heaven for Gov. Dayton’s courage. And yes, Minnesotans, be sure you have his back. They will come for him, no doubt. It is wonderful that he called out ALEC and its legislation by name. It’s about time a governor did, and may more follow his example.

        Now what I pray for is that no matter how much money the Kochs et al. pour into Walker’s campaign, the voters of Wisconsin will decline to be bought. It seems that Walker’s behavior has been so bad that all trust is broken beyond repair, and no amount of money can fix that. But you never know. The airwaves are full of lying Walker support ads. Sadly, the zillionaires who pay for those do it because it’s known to work. But then, this is the land of Feingold, who kept winning for many years while refusing that kind of cash.

        Will Mark Dayton become Minnesota’s Fighting Bob LaFollette?

        • Anonymous

          If you haven’t seen the youtube of Fightin’ Bob, it’s worth looking up! I had no idea they even made video at that time.

          It isn’t a matter of Walker’s behavior or trust or potential to govern. He’s a puppet, and always was. Until he is out of office, he will do nothing but David Koch’s bidding. This week, they are pushing through enormously destructive anti-environmental laws, from the ALEC model laws, plus specific grants of part of the state to Koch, in case they lose the recall.

          Yes, the money is flooding into Wisconsin so rapidly I can’t even keep up with it. Wisconsin is a kind of special project for Kochs, who hate it for reasons not worth listing, and even more for its resistance.

          Feingold, by the way, was on their list of Top Five people to get rid of. He seemed unbeatable, but Koch/ ALEC moved into the picture, and he was gone.

  • Damn right, Governor!

  • Swimmaven

    I wonder if it is legally possible to have legislation barring corporations and special interest groups from writing legislation.

    • Anonymous

      They’re just being helpful. 😛

      Actually, something that has become visible largely because of this is the fact that, apparently, most United States legislation is written by lobbyists. Presumably in Washington the legislators sponsoring the bill have at least read it, which may not now be the case in Wisconsin or Minnesota.

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  • Tort reform type of Laws are illegal, it violates the 7th Amendment. why not veto this crap based upon that alone!

  • Are There any more at Home Like Him?I think we need a whole lot more like him.Perhaps the people who are elected will get the picture that The Constituents are not going to swallow this Corporation Crap Much longer and get with the Program.

  • Kristen Esbensen

    Wish Wisconsin had a governor with integrity.

    • Anonymous

      Wisconsin ratified a governor selected by ALEC. The best that can be said for it is that many other states have made the same mistake. All of us will pay dearly. Wisconsin, I am proud to say, is fighting back–and, finally, Ohio and Indiana are showing resistance. Taking states back from ALEC to restore control to their voters will not be easy anywhere they “have the fix in,” but it has to be done, and done quickly. What is happening is the result of ALEC deciding the most efficient way to seize the country was through the states, through controlling electoral votes, and they are doing it well. At present, some 26 states are progressing rapidly in adopting ALEC model laws.

      In July, over 800 of the estimated 2,000 model laws were leaked to the Center for Media and Democracy, which turned them over to John Nichols of The Nation. Nichols (a Wisconsinite) and other writers for The Nation have published numerous articles describing the laws and the campaign under the banner “ALEC Exposed”; they are well worth reading if one wants to understand what is happening. The laws themselves are available at CMD’s website.

      • Wow! I though ALEC was just another bunch of power-crazed plutocrats. But you say they are an ORGANIZED bunch of power-crazed plutocrats – a Smart ALEC, and that scares me. Thanks (that may sound sarcastic on first reading – it’s not, despite the bad pun.)

        • Anonymous

          Unfortunately, they have been planning 29 years for this day–if you don’t count the other 50 years that they learned this at their fathers’ knees. It has apparently paid off; they have been unbelievably successful, and in my secret heart, I doubt we will be able to stop the tsunami.

          There are about 300 mega-rich and some 2,000 more-or-less temporary (2-year) members, judges, congressmen, etc. They meet twice a year to hand out marching orders, identify the worst opponents (e.g., climate scientists who claim there is something like ‘global warming’ which, unless we undermine the theory, will not be good for the oil business–and like that), and hand out assignments. Now, though, that the assault is in high gear, they are meeting more like every month or two.

          If you have noticed, the news is constantly full of appalling laws being passed, imprisoning brown people who don’t have citizenship papers on them; laws prohibiting states from passing laws regulating pollution; closing of public schools and giving the money to private (largely religious) schools (see Chester, PA, e.g.); disenfranchising traditionally Democratic voters including the young, the old, minorities, the infirm with draconian voter I.D. laws; defunding state Universities where they already have power to do so, and offering the money back as private donations in exchange for curriculum and faculty approval rights; and on and on.

          In Wisconsin, formerly one of only 5 or 6 states that were economically strong and self-sufficient, their governor has given Koch two or three hundred million dollars, no strings attached, from the public coffers–not only to let them have the money (they already have $50 Billion!), but to create a financially strapped state. In Michigan, which was already in financial trouble, they have gone to the next step–replacing local and county elected government with a manager appointed by the governor without approval of anyone else. They already have five cities, with two pending; when they have those under their corporate managers, they will control the homes of 51% of black Michigan residents (did I mention their goal is to resegregate schools and, ultimately, communities?).

          Oh, by the way, they created the tea party out of the fringe element of the Republican party that the party heretofore tried to keep under wraps and out of the public eye, through a Koch operation called Americans for Prosperity. They bought the seats for, often, incompetents–which is okay, because they are told how to vote (notice they vote en bloc) and it’s best they don’t think too much about it. The “regular” Republicans are afraid of them, or at least of their ability to end someone’s career, and don’t cross them. That’s probably why Boehner is inclined to sweat when Eric Cantor is standing behind him.

          But back to the topic of this article: Kochs themselves have developed the “upper Midwest project” consisting of MI, WI, MN, IN, OH, and sometimes PA, not entrusting it to lesser ALEC members. Of them, only Minnesota has a governor not hand-picked by Kochs. [side note: Although there are other states in the U.S. whose governors are not selected by ALEC, so far as I know, Governor Dayton is the only one who has stood up and called them out. It was an amazingly courageous thing to do.]

          To place what is happening in history, remember the biological parents of some of these people created the Great Depression (in which they so destroyed the ability to make a living that they had to travel with Pinkerton detectives so as not to be attacked by fathers of starving children), tried to overthrow FDR, and founded the John Birch Society. Looking to the future, read “The Fountainhead”–which is, by the way, literally required reading at the universities they already control. Remember when you read it that Medicare and Social Security are not at all in financial trouble, are funded through 2041 and beyond, and that the determination to end them is part of the ideological goal of ending financial security and the Middle Class to enhance control of the populace.

          If Obama is defeated this time, the Great Experiment (the American democracy) will be ended. If not, there is time at least–and, if you notice, his administration is becoming much more assertive–to identify the enemy and try to protect ourselves. If we were to have a Democratic Congress, preferably with a super-majority in the Senate, we could push back some of this; otherwise, we are a corporatocracy and there will not be opportunity for the ants to rise above the ant-hill.

          By the way, when I say a Democratic Congress, that is not a political statement. It reflects the fact that ALEC has already under control the Republican parties of the states it operates and on the national level, either through tea party elections or through intimidation of previously elected Republican officials, and right now, no Republican will be elected without their allowing it.

          Read The Nation. Read the New Yorker article about North Carolina for the story of how it’s done, how in one state, another ALEC associate, Art Pope, has seized the economy and the educational institutions of that state. This surge to create a corporatocracy is not funny any more!

  • Onthespirittrail

    Admirable. I wish we had more folks with this much courage and conviction. Bravo!!!

  • C. Harrison

    Hurrah!! Thank you Gov. Dayton!

  • Jdregni

    So many friends who see voting as complicity in a corrupt system; Dayton did not win by more than a few votes, and is our only protection against Repubs controlling the legislature.

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  • SAHomey

    It’s good to know that ALEC is a “secretive corporate front group funded by Big Business.” If that’s so, it would be more helpful to know which big businesses are members. Then action could be taken to show collectiev disapproval. That way you don’t have to wait on a governor to act. Citizens can act effectively, hitting where it hurts…the pocketbook, if properly informed.

    • Anonymous
    • Lngculwmn

      ALEC has its own website with everything openly available. Their agenda their members their board members etc. They are quite proud of the amount of bills they get passed every year. Thir history how it was started in 1973 etc. Their whole agenda has been in place.

    • Anonymous

      The “leaders” are Koch brothers. There are close to 300 mega-rich families who are the permanent members; their names are available. There are about 2,000 other temporary members who are judges and lawyers and legislators and governors and others who are useful in writing legislation. Among them are Justices Thomas and Scalia of SCOTUS and the governors and heads of legislatures of some 26 states.

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  • makes me proud to be Minnesotan!

  • Azlady13

    Thank you for standing up to ALEC!

  • Anonymous

    In Florida, a legislator forgot to strip off the ALEC logo and introduction from a bill. It was withdrawn as soon as someone called her on it. At any rate, the people filing the ALEC bills probably are too ignorant and lazy to write their own, anyway ,- plus, the cash in the unmarked envelopes is an incentive.

  • (sigh) If only we all, had a democrat governors like him.

  • Anonymous

    Brilliant! Way to go Gov. Dayton and Minnesota! ALEC markets their anti-immigrant laws – Arizona copy-cats – to state legislatures ready to cave. Time to stand up against this bypass of our democracy.

  • janeto

    I think it takes GREAT COURAGE to call out ALEC. I am proud to have Mark Dayton as Governor.

  • Dmkmdirect

    Thank you Governor Dayton!!

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  • PJparker

    How can I learn about how to spot these bills, call attention to them, expose them in Florida?

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