This weekend Bill Moyers, former LBJ press secretary and political commentator, will be premiering “The United States of ALEC,” a documentary on the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization of corporate clients meeting privately with state legislators and governors to craft “model legislation.”
What is model legislation? In effect it amounts to a variety of bills, covering everything from healthcare and taxes to public unions and austerity, that corporations and legislators write together. To be blunt, there is not a statehouse in the United States that hasn’t felt ALEC’s grimy and greedy tendrils. (See: the Wisconsin-ALEC connection.)
The majority of ALEC’s members are not elected officials, yet act with incredible power when it comes to crafting legislation that adversely effects the lives of a state’s citizenry. Registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, ALEC is legally prohibited from lobbying, but who could deny that this is exactly what they have been doing with conservative legislators?
In recent months, 40 major U.S. companies, including Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, Kraft, and General Motors, severed ties with ALEC. But don’t expect this highly successful form of model legislation to simply disappear—those companies, legislators and foundations will find some other way to accomplish their ends. It will mutate and rear its ugly head somewhere else.
Head over to Bill Moyers’ website to see when “The United States of ALEC” airs.