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Teamsters: Lawmakers Need To Wake Up To Influence Of ALEC


The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its most famous patrons the Koch Brothers have set their sights on creating an America that plows over workers on its way to bowing to the every whim of big business. Elected officials, if they are not participating in that transformation themselves, have too often stood silent. But that is beginning to change.

Last week, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) sent a letter to the inspector general at the Department of Interior (DOI) asking that the office investigate how much an ongoing ALEC campaign to pressure the agency into ceding control of federal land to the states was costing the federal government.  He also asked the DOI to look into possible lobbying disclosure violations by the group.

“ALEC’s pattern of activity raises serious questions about how changes to land management laws and regulations, especially in the Western United States, are being pushed by ALEC without public disclosure of its role or that of the corporations that fund its legislative agenda,” Grijalva, the ranking member of the House subcommittee of public lands and environmental regulation, wrote to acting DOI inspector general Mary Kendall.

He added, “The ALEC vision of state sovereignty trumping long-standing federal government efforts to manage public lands has already had tangible effects on Bureau of Land Management and other agency employees’ efforts to do their jobs.”

This is just the latest effort by ALEC and its cronies to influence policy. The group has in recent years become a thorn in the side of real democracy, advocating for corporate interests above those of the people.  One such example came last week when Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) signed a bill that prohibits local governments from boosting the minimum wage or enacting laws mandating paid sick or vacation days.

ALEC has also been active in pursuing an agenda that helps its members at the expense of the public at large. One example is in the telecom realm, where members and cable giants Comcast and Time Warner are seeking to merge. It has advocated for rules that would hinder public oversight of network expansion and make it harder for municipal broadband providers to be created. This leads to less choice and higher prices for consumers.

The result of such campaigns is the continual decline of U.S. workers. Need proof? A New York Times article this week details how the American middle class for the first time in at least a half a century is no longer the richest in the world. And for those near the bottom of the economic ladder, salaries trail most European nations as well as Canada.

Money should not rule government policy, the people should. And where dollars and corporate influence are part of the process, it should be clear who is behind the effort. Lawmakers on the state and federal level need to wake up to the scourge that is ALEC.