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The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a shadow legislature that has given us many lousy laws. Populated by corporate agents and Republican office-holders, ALEC passes "model bills," which its lawmaker members take to their statehouses and push into law. In 2011, news journals dragged ALEC into the light, and later pinned it as the source of the "shoot first" law that helped the killer walk in the Trayvon Martin case. With the bad press, ALEC began losing membership, and disbanded its gun proliferation and voter suppression committee. But, ALEC still drives its evident core mission to shackle democracy, and to unleash big money and mega-corporations, with such laws as those:

Today, ALEC fights against clean energy with its current package of model bills:

For all the lousy model bills-come-law that ALEC has given us, and for those it still seeks to give us, let's give a really good model bill to ALEC. Our model bill does not need a shadow legislature. Like many of its kind, it was written and passed by a real legislature during the "Progressive Era" of the early 20th century. Our model bill does not need the input of corporate agents. It serves only the public interest, and recognizes the profit-taking corporation as a special and powerful corrupting influence on government. In fact, our model bill bans corporations and their agents, outside of narrowly defined and well-lit lobbying channels, from any try at swaying public policy. Under its terms, corporate agents voting in a shadow legislature would face prison time, and the corporation that sent them could face dissolution. From the Wisconsin law book of 1919 -- here is a model bill for ALEC:

No corporation doing business in this state shall pay or contribute, or offer consent or agree to pay or contribute, directly or indirectly, any money, property, free service of its officers or employees or thing of value to any political party, organization, committee or individual for any political purpose whatsoever, or for the purpose of influencing legislation of any kind, or to promote or defeat the candidacy of any person for nomination, appointment or election to any political office.

Penalty: Any officer, employe, agent or attorney or other representative of any corporation, acting for and in behalf of such corporation, who shall violate [this act] shall be punished upon conviction by a fine of not less than one hundred nor more than five thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in the state prison for a period of not less than one nor more than five years, or by both ... and if the corporation shall be subject to a penalty then by forfeiture in double the amount of any fine so imposed ... and if a domestic corporation, it may be dissolved, ... and if a foreign or nonresident corporation, its right to do business in this state may be declared forfeited.



(From The Paragraph.) [Sources & Notes]


 * * *

By Quinn Hungeski, TheParagraph.com, Copyright (CC BY-ND) 2014

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)

    The Paragraph: 'The trouble with the profit system has always been that it was highly unprofitable to most people.' – E.B. White

    by hungeski on Tue May 06, 2014 at 08:15:40 PM PDT

  •  hungeski - based on current federal case law (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hungeski, Lujane

    your model bill is unconstitutional. Lobbying is a First Amendment protected right. Corporations have the same lobbying rights as individuals, because state legislatures have broad powers to effect corporations in their state.

    "let's talk about that" uid 92953

    by VClib on Tue May 06, 2014 at 08:46:17 PM PDT

    •  The 1919 Wisconsin law this was drawn from allows (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bakeneko

      for lobbying, but, by my reading, out in the open.

      ALEC is secretive, and does not consider what it does lobbying, but rather, from what I gather, education of legislators.
       

      The Paragraph: 'The trouble with the profit system has always been that it was highly unprofitable to most people.' – E.B. White

      by hungeski on Tue May 06, 2014 at 09:01:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The law, as drafted in your diary, violates (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hungeski

        Citizens United, as I read it. Others may have a different opinion.

        "let's talk about that" uid 92953

        by VClib on Tue May 06, 2014 at 09:06:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I thought it might. We have to fix that. n/t (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bakeneko

          The Paragraph: 'The trouble with the profit system has always been that it was highly unprofitable to most people.' – E.B. White

          by hungeski on Tue May 06, 2014 at 09:11:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  If the intent is to target independent expenditure (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          hungeski

          then yes, it's going to run afoul of Citizens United.  

          On the other hand, Citizens United did not remove restrictions on direct contributions to candidates campaigns.   Moreover, the most egregious aspect of ALEC "scholarships" is that they are payments made directly from parties interested in influencing legislation to legislators as private individuals.

          The Citizens United decision was crafted in order to undermine restrictions on independent expenditures, not facilities payments directly to candidates.  (Which by definition not independent expenditures.)

          http://www.economicpopulist.org

          by ManfromMiddletown on Wed May 07, 2014 at 01:58:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The intent is to shutdown ALEC (0+ / 0-)

            ... and any other such organization whose stock in trade is political corruption.

            The 1919 Wisconsin law says "No corporation ... shall pay or contribute ... any money, ... [or] free service of its officers or employees ... to any ... organization, committee or individual ... for the purpose of influencing legislation of any kind, or to promote or defeat the candidacy of any person for nomination, appointment or election to any political office."

            I think that covers both direct contributions and independent expenditures.

            The Paragraph: 'The trouble with the profit system has always been that it was highly unprofitable to most people.' – E.B. White

            by hungeski on Wed May 07, 2014 at 06:14:40 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  MM - I don't disagree (0+ / 0-)

            CU is clearly only about independent expenditures, although as written this proposed legislation violates CU.

            Because the "scholarships" are bipartisan (they always have a few Dems at these events) ALEC certainly complies with IRS rules regarding educational events. The language, as drafted, has many unintended consequences and I don't think will find enough supporters to move forward either regionally or nationally.

            "let's talk about that" uid 92953

            by VClib on Wed May 07, 2014 at 06:55:23 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The law applies only to corporations, (0+ / 0-)

              not associations or individuals. Also, it was in effect in Wisconsin from 1905, as I recall, to at least 1919. Similar laws were in effect in Ohio and, reportedly, many other states.

              So those are two things our "model bill" has going for it: a targeted application, and a live track record.

              The Paragraph: 'The trouble with the profit system has always been that it was highly unprofitable to most people.' – E.B. White

              by hungeski on Wed May 07, 2014 at 07:36:55 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Your model bill needs some work (0+ / 0-)

                Who drafted it?

                What you need is someone who is a real expert on campaign finance law to help you, and that isn't me. As currently drafted it would be too easy for state legislators to not take it seriously because it doesn't conform to current case law.

                "let's talk about that" uid 92953

                by VClib on Wed May 07, 2014 at 07:50:42 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  For sure ... (0+ / 0-)

                  Right off, it would need the money penalties adjusted for inflation since the early 1900's. And yes, I would like to see an expert take this up. But, as part of the effort, it looks like we would have to fix the Roberts Court's Citizens United mischief.

                  Who drafted the bill is the Wisconsin legislature of the early 1900's. I took the language directly from the Wisconsin law.

                  The Paragraph: 'The trouble with the profit system has always been that it was highly unprofitable to most people.' – E.B. White

                  by hungeski on Wed May 07, 2014 at 08:16:50 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  A.L.E.C. runs, and "owns" North Carolina. Be (0+ / 0-)

    afraid, very afraid.

    “My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there." - Rumi

    by LamontCranston on Wed May 07, 2014 at 08:09:34 AM PDT

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