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This is the stuff of novels and conspiracy films.
The once obscure, even friendly-sounding acronym for an equally innocuous corporate name – ALEC – for the American Legislative Exchange Council – has suddenly been thrown into the glare of exposure lately. ALEC-controlled state legislators across the country are literally flooding their bodies with bills designed to seize the moment – that moment in time when the upheaval in legislative membership has given us Republican majorities in Wisconsin, Indiana, Florida, Ohio, Kansas, among others – to pass wildly radical rightwing reforms of various states’ educational priorities and constructs, environmental and energy production regulations, access to elections and other voting rights, increasing imprisonment in the service of privatizing prisons, undermining universal health care, and other issues made visible by governors and lawmakers like Wisconsin’s.
Thousands of state legislators – overwhelmingly Republican – past and present, mostly present, are members of this heretofore secret and very powerful brotherhood. Now, they openly recruit members. That is matched by corporate members and their lobbyists and together they are writing the laws they want to govern us from here on out.
In Minnesota, former Republican Secretary of State, now state Representative Mary Kiffmeyer is ALEC’s state chairperson here. Other prominent Minnesota Senators and Representatives are ALEC operatives in their respective chambers – eight current senators and eighteen House members that we know of, including Senate President Pro Tem and Education Chair, Gen Olson, Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers and the two primary Education chairs, Reps. Pat Garofalo and Sondra Erickson.
This is the tip of the ALEC/Corporate cartel iceberg. The rest is well below the surface – some would say underground, including the 30-year history of gradually changing the face of the United States and Minnesota’s culture of divisive and exclusionary politics and social and educational policy. And we examine the effects of this organizations on Minnesota’s legal, electoral and educational landscape with three counter-advocates working with several others to expose this axis of rightwing corruption of our democracy and the very Constitution itself – part of it employing our public police forces to protect their secrecy and to arrest dissenters, even the journalists covering them.
Leading us ahead are published reports and curricula describing this secret society phenomenon in detail – one of the key reports, Common Cause Minnesota’s Legislating Under the Influence: How Corporations Write State Laws in Minnesota.
TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI talk with those advocates as we continue our series of programs opening the doors of groups and individuals out to undermine this core tenets of a document already thrown under the bus in the pursuit of profits and political control.