Now none of this seems too far fetched for the Tea Party. However, it is interesting when one takes a step back and wonders exactly how did all these state-level politicians all come up with the same legislative initiatives at the same time? If you're thinking they must have some 'sooper seekrit' neo-con policy handbook, you're not too far off.
Introducing the American Legislative Exchange Council (or ALEC). A conservative legislative policy group, they provide boilerplate ideas designed for implementation by state legislators and aimed at dismantling unions, regulation, pretty much everything they don't want to have to contend with. Membership is open to state legislators (for an affordable $100 a year), but boasts an impressive cadre of corporate sponsor/members as well (for the far more significant $5,000-50,000 per).
So what, right? After all, industry folks flock together at conferences; it's what they do. It's as inevitable as geese flocking in the fall. Chiropractors, shoe salesmen, grocers - they all have organizations where they compare notes, show off, trade ideas. What's the big deal?
Well, let's look at who founded ALEC, and who the big names are. ALEC's founders include:
-Paul Weyrich, a long time Right Wing activist, and one of the founders of the Moral Majority, founder of the Heritage Foundation, and known for his dominionist leanings.
-Henry Hyde, of the Hyde Amendment fame, another long-time conservative stalwart, and a banner bearer in the Clinton impeachment proceedings, internet censorship, and other Religious Right causes.
-Lou Barnett, former Political Director of the American Conservative Union, National Director of Reagan’s Political Action Committee, "Citizens for the Republic, and central to the revival of CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference.
The real clincher is the big money though. ALEC, in 2000, collected $56,126 in dues from members who were legislators. However, their total revenues were $5,685,299, almost 100 times that much. That money comes from big money corporate interests. Represented among the big money contributors and members? Amoco Corporation, Archer Daniels Midland , Koch Industries, Coors Brewing Co, Verizon Communications, Inc., PhRMA (Big pharmaceuticals), Pfizer Inc..... it's a regular Who's Who of corporate America.
According to reports from people who've been in these conferences, the agendas tend to run on two tracks: enabling corporations (by union-busting, stripping regulations, etc. ALEC was also behind the recent bills criminalizing attempts to expose cruelty or unsanitary conditions at factory farms.) and social conservatism (opposing health care reform, global warming denial, anti-environmentalism, anti-immigration, etc.). Groups like Family Research Council and the Pro-Family Legislative Network are represented in ALEC as well.
Read more on this story at these links:
SmartALEC: Dragging the Secretive Conservative Organization Out of the Shadows
ALEC fingered as source of coordinated anti-union, anti-immigration legislation
Creating a Right-Wing Nation, State by State
American Legislative Exchange Council - Source Watch.org
American Legislative Exchange Council | Right Wing Watch
Gov Rick Snyder Sellout? Prefabricated Corporate Michigan (Government) Courtesy of Koch & ALEC
FORTUNE - The big political player you've never heard of