Friday, May 25, 2012

Big Money Politics and Wisconsin

In a new report, the Center for Media and Democracy exposes the role of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)'s influence on the Wisconsin governor and Legislature. The issue at stake is lobbyists like ALEC influencing Wisconsin politicians through political contributions in order to get public policy and laws which favor ALEC's corporate members. In addition, ALEC is listed as an American charity, so how can it be promoting partisan agendas and still be a charity? Further, should elected officials be allowed to receive contributions with quid pro quo and dependency implications?

The main findings from the Report on ALEC as identified by the Center for Media and Democracy are:

  • 32 bills or budget provisions reflecting ALEC model legislation were introduced in Wisconsin's 2011-2012 legislative session;
  • 21 of these bills or budget provisions have passed, and two were vetoed;
  • More than $276,000 in campaign contributions were made to ALEC legislators in Wisconsin from ALEC corporations since 2008;
  • More than $406,000 in campaign contributions were made to ALEC alumnus Governor Walker from ALEC corporations over the same time period for his state campaign account;
  • At least 49 current Wisconsin legislators are known ALEC members, including the leaders of both the House and Senate as well as other legislators holding key posts in the state. Additionally, the Governor, the Secretary of the Department of Administration, and the Chairman of the Public Service Commission are ALEC alumni; and
  • At least 17 current legislators have received thousands of dollars of gifts cumulatively from ALEC corporations in the past few years, in the form of flights and hotel rooms filtered through the ALEC "scholarship fund" (complete "scholarship" information is not available).

  • ALEC describes itself as the largest "independent member association of state legislators" in the country, but over 98 percent of its nearly $7 million in annual revenue comes from corporations and sources other than legislative dues, which are $50 a year. Representatives from America's largest corporations, including Koch Industries, Wal-Mart, Exxon Mobil, Reynolds, and Altria/Phillip Morris fund ALEC and sit on its private sector governing board.

    Report on the American Legislative Exchange Council Influence on Wisconsin Elected Officials and Public Policy

    Types of Political Corruption 

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