|From the Officers
|Who Is Behind Our Laws?|
Over the past few months it has been revealed that a single organization known as ALEC has been the driving force behind hundreds of bills introduced in statehouses across the country that undermine working families. This is not some zany conspiracy theory. This is real and it is ugly.
In the wake of the tragic Florida death of unarmed African-American 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, the cloak of secrecy surrounding the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative Washington-based legislative group, has been pulled back. George Zimmerman, the man charged with second degree murder for shooting Martin, initially used a law called "Stand Your Ground" as a defense. "Stand Your Ground" is one of many current laws that feature language nearly identical to sample language written by ALEC.
Now there is a spotlight on ALEC, showing that it has engaged in under-the-radar campaigns for decades to weaken voting rights, dismantle workers' rights and help corporations undermine workplace standards.
The group counts as members more than 300 corporations, which pay up to $25,000 annually to be part of the organization. Most of the bills ALEC prepares and delivers to state lawmakers can be traced directly to its members' corporate interests.
This is putting even more power in the hands of the few and the wealthy, whose bottom lines are fueling many of these new laws.
When we elect leaders, we want them to fight for us and take our concerns and needs into consideration. When these lawmakers take their oaths of office, they promise to represent us. But ALEC is turning our democratic system on its head, allowing special interests to pay to play in our state governments under the guise of promoting "free markets, limited government, and federalism throughout the states," according to ALEC's Web site.
Now that ALEC has been exposed, more than a dozen major companies have cut ties with the organization, including Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Kraft Foods and Blue Cross Blue Shield. This is a victory for the 99 percent of Americans who need a responsible and responsive government in their corner.
We cannot allow companies to continue to hide behind shadowy groups like ALEC. We need to demand more transparency from our elected officials and the truth about who is really writing our laws.