Yesterday it was announced by the Sidney Hillman Foundation that the joint Nation and Center for Media and Democracy Series; "ALEC Exposed" was chosen as this month's winner of the Sidney award for excellence in socially-conscious journalism. Expert analysis on ALEC was delivered in a series of articles by Washington correspondent John Nichols along with Joel Rogers, Laura Dresser, Wendell Potter, Lisa Graves, Julie Underwood, Mike Elk, and myself.
The award ceremony is tentatively scheduled to be held at the Nation's HQ in NYC for some time next week, but has not been publicly announced as yet.
Many Kossacks know that much of the information and research on ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) originated right here at Daily Kos over the past year. We put out the call for the Protest of ALEC in Cincy on April 29th that resulted in a whistle blower coming forward and providing all of ALEC's secretive documents to the protesters. This leak was a basis for the actual ALEC Exposed.org release on July 13th.
While I am honored to share in this Journalism award, I want readers to know a lot of work went into this project by many Kossacks as well as others associated with CMD and the Nation but were not mentioned in the public announcement, though they were involved in making this happen. I would like to take this opportunity to provide their names and ask that readers also give a huge "shout out" to them for their efforts which have led to hundreds of articles, documents and blogs on ALEC since the articles were released in July:
OhioDem1, MnDem999, Hector Solon, ManfromMiddletown, CincinatiBengali, Mentatmark, Bfealk and Ben Stockwell all participated in one way or another, protesting, writing, blogging, researching or all of the above - to help expose ALEC publicly. Other groups were also involved in exposing ALEC and their corporate and legislative member's activities; Protest ALEC.org (organized the Cincy and New Orleans Protest), Beau Hodai (In These Times and DBA Press), Lee Fang (Think Progress) Ron Rabatsky (Resist the Privatization of America), NPR's Laura Sullivan and several others too numerous to mention.
ALEC represents the most dangerous and genuine threat to democracy in our lifetime. With the funding and cooperation of corporations such as ExxonMobil, GE, PharMA, Geico, State Farm, Koch Brothers, the Scaife, DeVos and Coors foundations, ALEC has been buying their way to control of both state and federal control through copy and paste legislation written by lobbyists, disseminated to each state and supported by Conservative legislators belonging to ALEC and sympathetic to their agenda.
ALEC has been discovered to be behind the Pro-Life anti-abortion, voter ID suppression, pushing for discrediting teachers, collective bargaining, fair wages and Union busting efforts in the U.S. - along with dozens of just as oppressive measures designed to enrich corporations and bankrupt society and the federal government.
Since the mid 80's ALEC and their members have been responsible for writing the laws used to incarcerate millions of us, to keep us in jail and/or prison for the longest time possible and garner profits for their corporate members off of every minute each were imprisoned. Lately they have used the same proven procedures that worked so successfully on criminal justice issues to change direction and begin to concentrate on imprisoning immigrants in the U.S. Though (like crime rates) illegal immigration rates were down from 2004 through 2009, ALEC and their member Corrections Corporation of America teamed up to write SB 1070 that was passed in AZ. last year. ALEC has similarly worked to introduce that same legislation in more than 20 more states. The net result of this legislation is that for 2011 50% of all imprisonment in the U.S federal system was immigrant detention! This was just published in a reportby the U.S. Sentencing Commission:
"According to the report, Latinos (both native-born and foreign-born) accounted for half (50 percent) of all individuals sent to federal prison during the first nine months of Fiscal Year 2011. Of these 28,468 Latinos, 16,964 (or 60 percent) were sentenced for immigration violations. Non-U.S. citizens (of any ethnicity or race) accounted for just under half (48 percent) of people sent to federal prison. Of these 28,648 non-citizens, 20,303 (or 71 percent) were sentenced for immigration violations. Overall, immigration offenses accounted for one third (33 percent) of all sentences handed down."
So as you can see from the current efforts of ALEC and the cabal they are a part of, they enjoy much successes in their pro-corporate anti-democratic efforts. Unless we prevail, more and more will needlessly wind up in prison, working in prison industries to earn corporations profits, more will sit idly behind bars in federal detention centers awaiting a day in court for immigration transgressions. The federal immigration judge's dockets are so backed up that instead of taking 20 days to resolve the legality of an immigrant's presence in the U.S. now averages more than 420 days and costs taxpayers $62,000.00 for each detainee held that long. Most are now held in private detention facilities owned by CCA, Geo Group and Management Training Corp. (MTC) and each are raking in millions in profits from such detention...just as they've been able to do on state prison operations for nearly 30 years.
More is yet to come on ALEC, Koch, Education, Judges and documents to be released in subsequent exposes. Their insidious activities are so vast and consuming that it is simply impossible to report all of it at one time - and most readers would be able to cope with everything at once without wanting to resort to violence against all those involved. Please stay involved, in the discussion and up on ALEC events and activities. As the 2012 election cycle looms closer and closer, you are going to see Koch funded Conservative led manipulations to disenfranchise Democratic voters of all ages, initiatives to outlaw EPA regulations, privatize more and more schools, imprison more Americans and immigrants. Each of these initiatives they succeed at enriches them more and provides funding for them to put other initiatives together - and contribute to Conservative politician's campaign accounts to keep those enablers in office.
2012 has to be the year we stop this in it's tracks and take America and our democracy back from this cabal. If we fail, one only has to look back a couple of days to the last Republican debate to see what is in store for all of us...as you remember that debate keep in mind that of those in that debate, four are clearly ALEC Alumni or affiliates: Bachmann, Gingrich, Perry and Cain. If one of them prevails and makes it to the general election, ALEC and Koch money will be just steps away from the oval office.
To me that's the scariest scenario possible. Remember, November 30 to December 2nd ALEC is holding their annual State and Nations meeting in Phoenix. We plan to again Protest, march and educate the public outside while they meet behind closed doors to decide what laws we will live by in the future. Join us, contribute or support as you can. Visit ProtestALEC.org for more info or to contribute.