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as well as towns and even villages.  Indiana's Open Door law seems to forbid these planned actions, so I asked the Public Access Counselor for his opinion.  Can you use your State Law to stop ALEC's expansion?

I was dismayed to read in yesterday's Guardian that ALEC has generated an offshoot that will bring ALEC's legislation-shaping tactics to cities, counties, towns and even 'villages' across the United States.

According to the Guardian article (link below), corporations will pay big bucks to become members of the ALEC spin-off, then these 'members' will be brought into closed-door 'committee meetings' with elected officials from the cities, counties, towns and villages.  The attending elected officials will be presented with ALEC-like products to take back to their council chambers.

Indiana has an 'Open Door' law -- as I expect many states do -- that requires meetings of elected officials that effect public business to be, well, public -- with the time and location announced beforehand, so that the public can attend, voice their opinions, record the meeting -- you know, the whole 'participatory democracy' thing.  

Indiana also has an appointed Public Access Counselor (PAC), with the authority to decide whether a meeting falls under the 'Open Door' law, and if a meeting was conducted lawfully or unlawfully.  (In one instance, the PAC opined that yes, the gathering of three city council members in the parking lot after the scheduled council meeting, and the decision agreed upon in the parking lot, was covered by, and unlawful under, the Open Door law.)

This afternoon, I wrote to Indiana's Public Access Counselor through his 'Contact Us' form.  The message I sent (with one embarrassing omission corrected here, in [square brackets]) is below.  When I receive a response, I will post that as a follow-up to this diary.

If your state has a person equivalent to Indiana's Public Access Counselor, you may be able to stop ALEC's expansion by raising these same questions and receiving an authoritative opinion on the lawfulness or unlawfulness of local elected officials receiving ALEC-like legislative 'guidance' in closed-door 'committee meetings'.  

If your state has a Public Access Counselor (or similar position), please post a link to that site in the comments; if you send a message to your PAC-equivalent, please post a comment or a diary about the response you receive.

This ALEC offshoot for cities, counties, towns and villages is just getting off the ground -- it is not yet established.  There is an opportunity, right now, to expose its plans and stop it before it takes root.

Here's the message I sent:

3/7/2014 2:27:15 PM
http://www.in.gov/...
message sent 3/7/14 to Mr. Britt, IN Public Access Counselor, through in.gov 'Contact' form.

Mr. Britt:

I ask for your opinion, as Indiana's Public Access Counselor, on whether the planned actions of the  American City County Exchange (ACCE) to influence the elected representatives of villages, towns, cities and counties [is lawful] in Indiana.

The ACCE is an offshoot of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  ACCE plans to create 'committee' forums where Corprate members (who have paid between $10K -$25K for membership) present legislative concepts and/or packages to legislators who will vote on the packages in the 'committee' meetings then bring those packages to their recognized chambers.

Please read the linked article, which describes how ACCE member corporations would meet privately with elected officials to determine specific legislation to be brought forward by those elected officials.

Article:  'Conservative group Alec trains sights on city and local government'

URL:  http://www.theguardian.com/...

Quotes:

"the American City County Exchange (ACCE) that will target policymakers from “villages, towns, cities and counties”.

"The new organisation will offer corporate America a direct conduit into the policy making process of city councils and municipalities. Lobbyists acting on behalf of major businesses will be able to propose resolutions and argue for new profit-enhancing legislation in front of elected city officials, who will then return to their council chambers and seek to implement the proposals."

[...]

"Alec spokesman Wilhelm Meierling  . . . confirmed that its structure would mirror that of Alec’s work in state legislatures by bringing together city, county and municipal elected officials with corporate lobbyists."

[...]

"In committee meetings, lobbyists will be allowed to “present facts and opinions for discussion” and introduce resolutions for new policies that they want to see implemented in a city. At the end of such meetings, the elected officials present in the room will take a vote before returning to their respective council chambers armed with new legislative proposals."
[Quotes end]

Mr. Britt, these proposed ACCE 'committee' meetings appear to me to run counter to Indiana's Open Door law.

Please provide your opinion as soon as you possibly can, Mr. Britt.  This message to you will be published in an online public forum, as will your reply.

Thank you.

{RealName}

6:29 PM PT: UPDATE:  A wonderful resource -- a 50-State 'Open Government Guide' -- has been provided by occupystephanie in the comments.  You can go to http://www.rcfp.org/...  to find your state's laws in a well-organized, accessible format.  I plan to spend some time there, reviewing my state's law (which has grown to include e-communication since I last read the law), and arm myself with The Letter of the Law for further correspondence regarding ACCE's planned invasion.  Check it out!

7:29 PM PT: Update 2:  My goodness!  This little diary has made the Rec list.  My thanks to you all.  It's 10:30pm here, I haven't eaten yet, I must step away now and may not be back until tomorrow, but will read all comments.

This diary represents, I hope, one way that you, even acting alone, can make a positive difference in your little corner of the world.  I think we have time, right now, to stop this ALEC offshoot in its tracks.

Thanks again!

Originally posted to CroneWit on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 03:36 PM PST.

Also republished by American Legislative Transparency Project.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'll be checking in now and then (20+ / 0-)

    throughout the evening, but I'll have to be away from the computer a good bit.  Ordinary real-life things need my attention.

  •  This is something that bears watching. (15+ / 0-)

    "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

    by elwior on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 03:46:42 PM PST

    •  It was only a matter of time. This is how facism (6+ / 0-)

      works.  The rightwing has always wanted the government run like a business and so it will be.  Along with the privatization of local governments--soon elections will be unnecessary because they cost too much--take note of the very significant preferential singling out of police and firefighters from local adjustments to pensions and benefits.  That is by design because these two groups are the muscle that will enforce all the new rules and smite you down if you take to the street with your placard to protest.  (The paint is drying on my sign.  It says "Please don't beat me, taser me, or tear gas me.  I might be your fellow officer's mom.)

      Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

      by judyms9 on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 03:57:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh Noes!! ALL IS LO-S-S-T! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NoMoreLies, kurt

        Thanks so much for your encouraging outlook.

        Not that I expect this to get through your Cloud of Doom, here's the point of the diary:

        1.  States have 'Open Door' laws that apply to city/county councils;
        2.  The mini-ALEC's closed meetings look to be unlawful;
        3.  Your state's PAC equivalent can be asked to give an authoritative opinion on the lawfulness/unlawfulness of elected officials meeting behind closed doors and taking 'suggestions' back to the full council;
        4.  Even if the PAC counselor says it's okay (I mean, mine was appointed by Mike Pence, for Pete's sake!), it's your City/County/Town/Village Council we're talking about.  People you can watch, in their meetings, on the low-number cable channels.  People you can phone or email.  Council meetings you can attend (with a bunch of people, for Pete's sake!), and stand up and say your piece or have your written statement read into the minutes and shown on TV with the recording of the meeting saved at your local library.  And -- guess what? -- if you speak in a council meeting, the police will not tase you.

        So, judyms9, please take a nice long bath, and drink a nice cup of hot cocoa, and put on your cozy jammies and tuck yourself into bed.  Maybe tomorrow will be a better day in your world.

    •  You could ask your State's PAC-equivalent (0+ / 0-)

      to watch it with us, elwior, couldn't you?

    •  You can't get much smaller than my town (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, CroneWit, nocynicism, BlackSheep1, kurt

      and I think they're already here. There are a few twits who I swear are going to congressional listening sessions and reading ALEC's talking points right out of their book. Mostly they are bitching because the EPA won't let them pollute to their greedy hearts' content.

      Not to worry, most of our citizens aren't buying it. If we wanted to breathe filthy air we'd move to a city.

      One woman makes a din, two women a lot of trouble, three an annual market, four a quarrel, five an army, and against six the Devil himself has no weapon. -- Dutch proverb

      by Ice Blue on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 07:37:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well, Maryland has an open meetings compliance (10+ / 0-)

    board. I'm familiar with it.

    But this sounds like taking legislators or city council members by onesies and twosies from different locations.

    Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

    by dadadata on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 03:54:02 PM PST

    •  Making 'Open Meetings' apply to mini-ALEC (4+ / 0-)

      is the point of the diary, dadadata.  (Wow, that's hard to type!)

      Are those 'onesies and twosies', meeting in closed-door 'committee meetings, lawful or unlawful under your state's 'Open Meeting' law?

      If (as I suspect) they are unlawful, then now is the time to reveal the planned unlawful activity, in order to 'nip it in the bud'.

      •  I don't believe that is likely or possible (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lujane, CroneWit, elwior, Ignacio Magaloni

        this is done all the time, phone calls, emails, public events..it is a long a costly and tedious thing to police and prove.

        In calif we have the Brown Act that tries to do this, and it's a long expensive wrangle, but it also does make Them try, at least a little bit to work hard to look compliant while still getting The Message.

        And Get It they will.

        How do you propose this could be a problem if this group emails all the county supervisors at once, that's not a meeting, just more input...coordinated sure, but not in violation I believe...anyway...another thing to be aware of.

        But thanks for the heads up.

        This machine kills Fascists.

        by KenBee on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 05:32:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I noted that e-communication has been (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          KenBee, elwior

          added to the IN Open Door law since I last reviewed it (some years ago).  I noticed that this evening, when I went poking around at the site that occupystehpanie provided --

          http://www.rcfp.org/...

          -- in a comment below.  This site has all 50 states' Open Government laws collected in a well-organized, easy-access format.

          Since the mini-ALEC hasn't really started yet, we don't know how they'll bring corporate members together with elected officials.  I recollect from reading about ALEC that (at the Federal level) they have 'conferences' in cool places, making attendance itself something of a 'perk' for legislators.

          But the point is: IF we can use the Open Door laws, and/or the PACounselors, to have the planned meetings recognized as unlawful before the mini-ALEC completes its rollout, we may be able to 'cut them off at the pass'.

          I hope you'll read the Guardian article, then check out your state's law at the link in this comment.  Then decide how hard it would be to write an email to your state's PAC equivalent.

      •  Email is still considered "not a meeting" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CroneWit

        here. A chat room would be a meeting.

        My point is that if two of five council members are being lobbied, it's not a "meeting." No matter where they are.

        If they are at a miniALEC thing in Ocean City, two still would not me in violation. Three, four or five, quite probably.

        Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

        by dadadata on Sat Mar 08, 2014 at 04:29:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's how it looks to me, at this point (0+ / 0-)

          in my learning curve.  I haven't reviewed the current state of IN's Open Door law yet, but my recollection is 'three or more' constitutes a meeting regulated by law.

          Assuming for the moment that 'three or more' is correct, wouldn't forcing ACCE into compliance mean that they would have to have at least two 'meetings' to include your suggest '3 of 5 council members' -- say, one meeting with 1 & 2, and a second meeting with #3, in order to keep the meeting non-public?

          Just thinking out loud, and your points are helpful.  Thanks.

  •  Oh great! *groan* It's metastasized! nt (7+ / 0-)

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 03:59:59 PM PST

  •  Oregon also has a public meetings law. The only (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CroneWit, elwior, BlackSheep1

    sessions that can be closed are executive sessions where staffing decisions, discipline are discussed. Nothing can be approved in a closed session.

    •  I think every state has an 'Open Door' law. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior

      Your 'the only sessions that can be closed are executive sessions where staffing decisions, discipline are discussed' sounds like what I recall of the Indiana law.

      In one incident a few years, back, the IN PAC was asked for a decision on an action taken by our (county) public library while library employees were fighting to create a union.  I forget now whether the incident involved a private meeting, of an attempt from the library to withhold documents (FOIA-type questions are also handled by the PAC).  Anyway, the PAC's decision came down on the side of the employees, not management -- even in this very anti-union state.

  •  Here's a link to info for all fifty states (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CroneWit, bwren, elwior

    Open government guide

    I'm unsure if we have a comparable person in Oregon but will look around.

    It is an interesting question. I know that lobbying is not a an open meeting; however, ALEC swears up and down it is not lobbying so what is it doing?

    We have it within our power to make the world over again ~ Thomas Paine

    by occupystephanie on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 05:01:39 PM PST

    •  Thanks for this great resource, occupystephanie! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      occupystephanie, elwior

      The 'Open Government Guide' contains each state's laws:

      http://www.rcfp.org/...

      The Open Government Guide is a complete compendium of information on every state's open records and open meetings laws. Each state's section is arranged according to a standard outline, making it easy to compare laws in various states.

      The page also has a link to their 'Federal Open Government Guide'

      Now, our City & County Councils do encourage people to speak (within orderly limits), but here's a point of law that I may use in future communications with the PAC:

      http://www.rcfp.org/...

      A. Is there a right to participate in public meetings?

      No. The Open Door Law authorizes the public only to "observe and record" meetings. Ind. Code § 5-14-1.5-3(a).

      Well, obviously the public can't 'observe and record' a mini-ALEC meeting.

      Further questions to find the would be 'what constitutes a meeting' and 'how many participants make a meeting', but these and others can be found at this site.

      The organization of this site make finding these answers MUCH  easier than digging through the online Indiana Code.

      Thanks for this great resource!  I'll try to Update the diary with this.

      It doesn't lead directly to the PAC, but (iirc) the state law creates the position and its duties.  Since my state's website is a confusing mess, it was easier to just google 'Indiana Public Access Counselor', which took me right to his part of the state's website.

  •  There may be a way to evade open meetings rules (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KenBee, CroneWit, elwior

    At least in some jurisdictions.  Here in Massachusetts, it's clear that if three or more members of a body that's subject to the Open Meetings Law talk to each other about matters within their body's jurisdiction, that's normally enough to constitute a  meeting: something that must be noticed and open to the public.  (There are some exemptions, allowing people to talk to each other if they all happen to be at the same unrelated public event, but the exemptions are fairly minimal.)  So it's clear that an ACCE meeting couldn't legally include, say, four members of a City Council and a bunch of lobbyists.  Or four members of a conservation commission, or planning board, or any such body.

    But it's not clear to me that ACCE would need to have four city councilors.  If they were to invite two members of, say, a city council's ordinance committee, and two members of its planning board, and two from its redevelopment authority -- well, you all see where this is going.  If you target the right people, you could do more than most of us would be comfortable with behind closed doors.  You'd be pushing it, and obviously evading the spirit of the law, but I'm not sure that there would be statutory authority to prevent it.

    •  Good points, flashmans ghost. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior

      And after I've reviewed Indiana's laws again, I might have a way to respond to the points you made about splitting ACCE attendance among several City or County sub-offices.

      The Guardian article spoke of city/county 'councils', not sub-divisions of City/County government, and the ACCE wasn't very well-developed yet.  So I don't know if ACCE will be targeting appointed, as well as elected, officials. (They may not even be sure yet!)

      •  I wouldn't get too excited (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        flashmans ghost, CroneWit

        the same open meeting laws apply to the state legislature, and it's almost certainly the case that there have been situations in which a quorum of a committee from the state have been together in an ALEC task force.  In general, ALEC has pretty broad exemptions under Indiana law.  Now this ACCE might face the problem of those exemptions not applying if there is a separate 501c3.

        This all said, I think that seeking out pledges to from local elected officials that they will not participate in any meetings not open to the public would be effective. Preempt them.  Most city/county council districts are small enough that the politics are retail, not wholesale.  That is that the scale for media driven campaigns isn't really there.  People win and lose by organizing at the local level and canvassing.

        http://www.economicpopulist.org

        by ManfromMiddletown on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 08:07:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I imagine you're right, ManfromMiddletown (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ManfromMiddletown

          But, because of the limitations of disabilities and poverty, I'm not really in a position to 'organize and canvass', even at the local level.  The action I described in this diary was the action that was open to me, so I took it.

          Could you explain more fully, or provide links for reading about, the 'broad exemptions' ALEC has under IN law?  Not doubting you, just wanting more info so I can know how this works.

          The idea of getting pledges from local officials (and candidates) had crossed my mind, but I didn't know how to go about that, so I didn't mention it.

          Yes, as you say:  Preempt them.  By any means possible, under the law, I would say.  This diary was a description of my small attempt to do that.

          Very glad to see you in this diary, MfM!  If you, or others from the anti-ALEC contingent have thoughts and comments that could help develop the theme of 'Preempt them', I hope you will post them here.

          •  Ditto for (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            CroneWit

            me on the being in a position to organize and canvass.  I'm healthy, but it's not something I'm in a place to organize.

            As for the exemption, here you go:

            In Indiana, six groups are expressly “not considered lobbyists”: the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, Women in Government, the National Conference of Insurance Legislators, the Council of State Governments, and the National Conference of State Legislatures, as well as ALEC.

            ALEC member and Republican Speaker of the House Mike Murphy co-sponsored a 2010 Indiana ethics bill with Minority Leader Pat Bauer that laid out rules for lobbying disclosure. The original bill did not exempt any organizations by name. Bauer, a 42-year veteran of Indiana’s state House, says the Republican-led Senate Legislative Rules Committee amended the bill to exempt six organizations — including ALEC — before it came to a vote.

            He supports revising the law to exclude ALEC. “Since the tsunami of 2010,” which gave Republicans new command in dozens of state legislatures, says Bauer, ALEC has pushed its legislation in Indiana more aggressively. “At the time this bill passed, they didn’t have that profile.”

            They've tried to insert a poison pill here.  I'd suggest that if we're looking to prempt them at the local level, we put the focus on transparency.  Ask local officials to refuse to participate in any networking organizations that are not open to the public.

            http://www.economicpopulist.org

            by ManfromMiddletown on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 09:03:18 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks, ManfromMiddletown! (0+ / 0-)

              This is a great, and well-phrased suggestion:

              Ask local officials to refuse to participate in any networking organizations that are not open to the public.
              And thanks for the link/quote about the 'ethics' bill that exempts ALEC -- I wonder if ALEC wrote that?  If it's in other states as well, like so many of the ALEC bills? And --as you pointed out above -- if ACCE will be 'grandfathered in' as part of ALEC.

              I'll read your link, and the IN law it refers to.  Goodness!  I'm piling up quite a bit of homework for this, already.

              Thanks for your input!

            •  I just read your 'publicintegrity' link, MfM (0+ / 0-)

              and it certainly provides much food for thought.

              I learned that, as of the article's release in Nov 2013, three states had passed 'ethics' laws that exempt ALEC:

              But in three states — South Carolina, Indiana and Colorado — it turns out that ALEC has quietly, and by name, been specifically exempted from lobbyist status.

              http://www.publicintegrity.org/...

              The article talks about this ALEC exemption in all three states, and discusses how various citizen-action groups have brought ALEC's nefarious ways to light and reduced their corporate sponsorship (their revenue) since the IN bill was passed in 2010.

              The linked article also contains a link to the original bill (with amendments) passed by the IN (GOP!) legislature in 2010.  The original bill, with amendments in bold type, can be found here --

              http://www.in.gov/...

              However, after scanning the bolded amendments, and doing a search on key terms, I didn't find a section that named the

              six groups . . .  “not considered lobbyists”: the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, Women in Government, the National Conference of Insurance Legislators, the Council of State Governments, and the National Conference of State Legislatures, as well as ALEC.
              I'm not doubting that they're in the law as passed; they are just not in the version at the link provided in the publicintegrity.  Which means more homework for me! ;-)

              the publicintegrity article also notes that --

              And on April 20 [2013] Common Cause submitted a whistleblower complaint to the IRS, claiming ALEC is “a corporate lobbying group masquerading as a charity” that promises its donors a tax deduction.

              [link to whistleblower complaint is in the original]

              Ahe article also notes that the head of the Dems in the IN state legislature would like to re-visit the law and remove ALEC's exemption; this is another foothold for stopping ACCE, I think.

              ALEC's actions are no longer invisible, and their methods are now known, as they were not in 2010.  This higher visibility makes it easier, I think, for the planned incursion of ACCE into towns and counties to be explained to the public.

              And I think it's encouraging to learn that, although ALEC has infested many state legislatures, ONLY three states have exempted them from complying with lobbyist laws.  That means one less hurdle in the remaining 47 states.

              Please continue to educate me, MfM, and if you have anybody from Indiana in your anti-ALEC contingent, please ask them to comment here or contact me through Kosmail.

              •  Bauer was forced out (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                CroneWit

                of his leadership rule in 2012.

                Lots of northern Indiana politics here.  They put Scott Pelath in as the new minority leader.

                I've been out of the loop for a few months with the ALEC stuff. There's plenty of info out there.  Just examine everything before you bite.

                I think that it is the public relations campaign that is going to blunt this ACCE effort.

                There is much that can be done, but again this takes organization, and that is wanting.

                http://www.economicpopulist.org

                by ManfromMiddletown on Sat Mar 08, 2014 at 12:49:53 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I found IN law exempting ALEC - THX, MfM! (0+ / 0-)

                  Well, if you've been 'out of the loop', I sure appreciate your jumping back in to share your knowledge in this thread!

                  Just to clarify -- do you think that it's the anti-ALEC campaign that will blunt the ACCE effort?  (Or has an anti-ACCE effort begun?)

                  Thanks to your comments, I found the GOP amendment to Indiana's 2010 revision of its ethics law.  And just as you said, ALEC has been declared, by law, as 'not a lobbyist'.

                  This is from a pdf of the Enrolled Act:

                  http://www.ai.org/...

                  SECTION 13. IC 2-7-1-10 IS AMENDED TO READ AS FOLLOWS [EFFECTIVE NOVEMBER 1, 2010]: Sec. 10. (a) "Lobbyist" means any person who:
                          (1) engages in lobbying; and
                          (2) in any registration year, receives or expends an aggregate of at least five hundred dollars ($500) in compensation or expenditures reportable under this article for lobbying, whether the compensation or expenditure is solely for lobbying or the lobbying is incidental to that individual's regular employment.
                       (b) The following are not considered lobbyists:
                          (1) A public employee or public official.
                          (2) The National Conference of State Legislatures.
                          (3) The National Conference of Insurance Legislators.
                          (4) The American Legislative Exchange Council.
                          (5) Women in Government.
                          (6) The Council of State Governments.
                          (7) The National Black Caucus of State Legislators.
                          (8) Any other national organization established for the education and support of legislative leadership, legislators, legislative staff, or related government employees.

                  Cleverly written, indeed.  (And I am chary of the 'Insurance Legislators' group being included as 'not a lobbyist', given Indiana's huge involvement with medical industries (Pfizer, Cook Medical, Eli Lilly etc), IN's ongoing opposition to the ACA, and the Million$ Evan' Bayh's wife took in as a board member for a number of insurance companies while Evan 'worked on' passing the ACA.)

                  But in regard to ALEC/ACCE:  I had been wondering if the argument could be made that a legislator who is a member of ALEC/ACCE and brings an agenda or pre-written law back to his/her voting chamber could be considered a 'lobbyist' (because a member) -- but the law was written to cover that.  Item (8) can be used either to 'grandfather' ACCE into non-lobbyist status,either as an offshoot of ALEC or as a freestanding 'education and support' organization.  And the phrase in (8), "legislative leadership, legislators, legislative staff, or related government employees" would allow the inclusion of people from sub-units of a city/county government, like members of the planning commission, whether those people were elected or appointed.  (This last answers a question answered earlier in this thread.)

                  Well, thank goodness only three states offer ALEC/ACCE the protection of being legally deemed 'not lobbyists'.

                  But it still seems to me (at this point in my education on these issues)  that the Open Door laws could still be used to force ACCE (and maybe even ALEC?) into permitting citizens to attend, observe, and record meetings.  I haven't reviewed the current IN Open Door law yet, but do you know of any reason why the Open Door laws couldn't be used for this?

                  Thanks again for participating, MfM!

    •  like my SO's coworker's hometown: the City Coun- (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CroneWit

      cil is no longer all members of one family (he got elected on the slogan, "I'm not kin to anybody else!") who can do business at the school's ball games in the bleachers.

      Yes. Texas has an open meetings law.
      Esos simplemente no gustó obedecer la ley  antes de que él se moviera a la ciudad.

      LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

      by BlackSheep1 on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 09:38:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for discussing ways to fight back (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CroneWit, elwior, Gowrie Gal, BlackSheep1

    We can't let the Kochs turn America into their fascist state.

    “Industry does everything they can and gets away with it almost all the time, whether it’s the coal industry, not the subject of this hearing, or water or whatever. They will cut corners, and they will get away with it. " Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D, WVa

    by FishOutofWater on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 06:40:18 PM PST

    •  Thanks, FishOutofWater. I think, right now, we (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, Gowrie Gal, BlackSheep1

      have an opportunity to stop this ALEC expansion through the ACCE.

      We're talking about City and County Councils -- even towns and villages -- very small, and accessible, units of government.  And  ACCE hasn't even gotten off the ground yet, according to the Guardian (and seeing the states of ACCE's website).

      This situation can be changed, I believe, by a very small-shop activism -- such as one small person asking their state's Public Access Counselor's opinion, as a beginning.

      One point mentioned by the Guardian that I haven't touched on:  Recent reports have shown that ALEC is losing ground and donors, and running out of funds.  One element of their plan for ACCE is for it to be a source of new funding, by raking corporate membership payments of $10K - $25K.

      If state Public Access Counselors start writing opinions stating that the 'committee meetings' would constitute meetings regulated by the Open Door law, the whole ACCE plan could fall apart.  Meetings not open to the public would be unlawful, and meetings that must by law allow the public to 'observe and record' its proceeding would be death to any participating politician, and an embarrassment to the corporate members.

      The whole goal of ALEC's method is, precisely, the secret meetings, where corporate donors give pre-written legislation to elected officials.  Just a few citizens in the room, with notepads and cell-phones and tape recorders -- plus the Internet -- defeats their purpose.

  •  ALEC depends HEAVILY on ignorance of their most (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, Ignacio Magaloni

    important weapon- local RW radio stations and their blowhards-

     who use the talking points/topics/guests supplied to them via local ALEC stink tanks, and which have NO challenge from those being targeted and effected by their well designed propaganda ops.

    their use of the public air waves is free for them. and those local blowhards eat up and regurgitate the bullshit like it's barbeque with salmonella.

    and many of those stations would be out of business if our state funded universities would honor their mission statements and stop renting their sports mascots to those alec megaphones.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 07:27:02 PM PST

  •  Kochroaches Can't Operate Safely In The Light (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CroneWit

    of day so they'll gladly violate Pennsylvania's Sunshine Law to get done what they want done -- the law is a minor inconvenience and insignificant technicality to oil billionaire oligarchs determined to subvert representative democracy, the Constitution, and the Rule of Law.

    (All politics is local.)

  •  How Connected Is ACCE to CCA? (0+ / 0-)

    My dyslexic misperception, juxtaposing the letters but ...

    Look at ACCE's agenda on prison overcrowding:

    Prison Overcrowding: The Problem

    What?

    Prison overcrowding has become a serious problem in America. There is currently not enough space in prisons for all convicted criminals to fully serve their sentences. This leads to the early release of offenders who are not ready to successfully reenter the community. The emergency release of offenders out the back door, in an effort to free up space for those at the front door, threatens the public safety of communities. This is neither effective nor efficient policy.

    Why?

    During the late 1980s and early 1990s, state and local governments passed tough crime legislation. For example, California passed the “three strikes and you’re out” law which called for mandatory sentencing of repeat offenders, and New York adopted the “Broken Windows” strategy that called for the arrest and prosecution of all crimes large and small. Policy such as this led to reduced crime rates, but increased populations in jails and prisons.

    What Next?

    The precedent was set in August of 2009 when California was federally-mandated to release over 40,000 prisoners in two years. The next step is for state legislators to pre-empt such unconstitutional action by implementing effective policy that will alleviate the situation and keep local communities safe.

    Prison Overcrowding Statistics: The Information

    Prison overcrowding is a problem affecting our states and the safety of our local communities. In our efforts at the American Legislative Exchange Council to provide a solution to both alleviate and eventually end this problem, we have created a clearinghouse of information on the issue, specific to each state, and available to all interested parties. Click on a state below to view state-specific prison overcrowding statistics.

    Not one mention of the major reason we have prison overcrowding in America: OVERJAILING! American imprisons more people per capita than any other nation in the world and we've turned it into a damned profitable industry.

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