Left’s War On ALEC Comes To Georgia

Yesterday afternoon I was minding my own business when I was mentioned in this Tweet.

Who’s NOT with #ALEC? #CocaCola and #McDonalds Who is? @buzzbrockway @charlicebyrd http://bttrga.us/I0ywNQ #gapol

I responded with this Tweet and the discussion began.

The war on good ideas continues. Sad. RT @bryanlong: Who’s NOT with #ALEC? #CocaCola and #McDonalds Who is? http://bttrga.us/I0ywNQ #gapol

ALEC must be some sort of evil cabal and I’m wrapped up in it!

Bryan Long is the Executive Director of a group called Better Georgia. According to their website Better Georgia is:

We are Georgians who are ready to once again lead the South.

We want strong communities, churches and schools. We want quality jobs and a culture that attracts the best businesses.

Better Georgia is here to make sure elected officials listen to Georgia families, small business owners and real people. We want our elected officials to pass sensible laws and policies that make Georgia a better state.

Today, Georgia faces historic levels of unemployment with nearly half a million workers looking for jobs. Georgia has the 3rd highest poverty rate in nation, with two cities ranked among our nation’s 10 poorest places to live. Georgia’s students are defaulting on student loans faster than the national average. Meanwhile, businesses refuse to open in Georgia because our representatives pass laws intended to please a small, extreme group.

It’s time someone other than lobbyists and big-pocket corporations demand action from our elected officials.

Better Georgia will.

The first time I heard of this group was during the last couple of day of this year’s Legislative session when the showed up to ask Legislators to take a drug test. They produced a video of their encounters with various Republican Representatives (it’s on their website). However, the video was edited to leave out the fact that Rep. Randy Nix offered to pee into the cup and they didn’t even include their encounter with Rep. Michael Harden who offered to take the test and asked the Better Georgia folks to hold the cup for him. Obviously they learned journalism from Michael Moore.

So who is ALEC and why is the Executive Director of Better Georgia so opposed to them?

ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council. Legislators from across America gather at conferences to share ideas and talk about what has worked in their States. According to their website:

For more than 35 years, ALEC has been the ideal means of creating and delivering public policy ideas aimed at protecting and expanding our free society. Thanks to ALEC’s membership, the duly elected leaders of their state legislatures, Jeffersonian principles advise and inform legislative action across the country. Literally hundreds of dedicated ALEC members have worked together to create, develop, introduce and guide to enactment many of the cutting-edge, conservative policies that have now become the law in the states. The strategic knowledge and training ALEC members have received over the years has been integral to these victories.

Since its founding, ALEC has amassed an unmatched record of achieving ground-breaking changes in public policy. Policies such as teacher competency testing, pension reform, and Enterprise Zones represent just a handful of ALEC’s victories in the states.

Pay attention to the the phrases “Jeffersonian principles” and “conservative policies” in order to understand why Better Georgia and their left wing fellow travelers hate ALEC. The American Left has declared war on ALEC and has begun going after companies and individuals that donate money to ALEC. Bryan Long has begun targeting Lawmakers like myself who are members of ALEC trying to shame us into quitting the group.

The idea that conservative Legislators would gather to discuss good ideas and that private money would be used to help defray the costs is outrageous to groups like Better Georgia. In their minds, either conservative Legislators should not be allowed to gather, taxpayers should be forced to pay for it (some States use taxpayers funds to fund NCSL, the National Council of State Legislators, which apparently Better Georgia has no problem with), or only wealthy people should allowed to participate in groups like ALEC.

Even the AJC’s Jay Bookman has joined the cause, complaining about a bill simply because an ALEC task force thought it was a good idea. The bill passed the Georgia House and the Senate with no dissenting votes so apparently ALEC’s deceptive power has penetrated the Georgia Democratic Party as well.

At one point during my discussion with Mr. Long I asked where Better Georgia get’s it’s funding. I never got an answer. If they’re going to target those who fund ALEC isn’t it fair we know who’s funding him? Since he wouldn’t answer my question I thought I’d see what the Google turned up.

Better Georgia is an affiliate of a national group called ProgressNow. ProgressNow claims to be a “year-round, never-ending progressive campaign.”

Political campaigns are relatively short-lived; they come and they go, leaving little behind of lasting value. ProgressNow’s presence in our states never ends. There are hundreds of local and state issues that we can organize and communicate effectively literally year-round. Day in and day out, we’re working in our states to counter the right wing and create a perpetual issue advocacy culture.

ProgressNow is yet another left-wing advocacy group – nothing wrong with that, but again, don’t we have a right to know who’s funding them? Who actually cuts checks to ProgressNow and Better Georgia is hard to find. I did find this though that sheds some light on the subject.

Progress Now counts as advisers such Democratic heavyweights as Robert Borosage (Americans United for Change), David Brock (Progressive Media USA), Mike Lux (American Family Voices), Eli Pariser (MoveOn.org) and Carl Pope (Sierra Club), as well as directors of the Fund for America (Anna Burger, John Podesta, John Stocks) and several members of the Democracy Alliance (Steve Phillips, Drummond Pike, John Podesta, Rob Stein and Michael Vachon). Borosage, Lux and Phillips are also on the board of Progressive Majority, which pays rent to Progress Now.

For a chart of money and influence behind the network, click here.

Sadly the “click here” link is dead but there was this:

Progress Now was funded by the Bauman Family Foundation ($100,000), Energy Foundation ($20,000) and Boston Foundation ($10,000) in 2007, and the Bohemian Foundation ($75,000) and Denver Foundation ($30,000) in 2006.

For more on these groups follow these links:
Bauman Family Foundation
Energy Foundation
Boston Foundation
Bohemian Foundation (funds Media Matters and other left with groups)
Denver Foundation

I could not find any information on who donates to Better Georgia but given they are affiliated with ProgressNow which is run and funded by numerous left wing activist and groups, it’s safe to say Better Georgia is funded by left wing activists and groups.

Let me make myself clear – if Better Georgia wants to go after ALEC’s members and donors they have every right to do that. However, I for one am going to push back and ask that they have the courage to release the names of their members and donors so the public can give them the same level of scrutiny ALEC and it’s supporters are getting.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin wrote about this subject today as well.


  1. sunkawakan says:

    Why look for “good ideas” (and money) from entities whose structure is more totalitarian/oligarchical than democratic? Rightly so, the corporate oligarchs are really in it to make money, first and foremost. And they have purchased a majority of the Georgia legislature, to further that single objective.

  2. bird says:

    Buzz, I think you invited Bryan to visit an ALEC conference during this Twitter exchange that ended up in my feed. Are you going to follow through with that?

    • bird,

      Next time you see Bryan remind him I sent him the link to ALEC’s website. He should be able to figure out how to get to a conference all by himself. Since he’s well funded maybe he can buy me a drink while were there.

      • bird says:

        You invited him, so hardly the same thing.

        Regarding the drink, I bet the paid staff at ALEC do a lot of special things to make each legislator, like you, feel very, very important. I’m sure you’ll survive without Bryan buying you a drink.

  3. CobbGOPer says:

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with legislators attending conferences paid for completely by corporate interests, to discuss potential legislation that would be beneficial to said corporate interests (in many cases, but not all, I grant you that). Doesn’t sound ethically fishy at all… to a Georgia legislator, that is.

      • caroline says:

        Actually I would rather have tax payers fund this kind of stuff because then maybe they woudl pay attention to us instead of these people. Either that or just get rid of the conferences altogether.

        • elfiii says:

          How about taxpayers not pay for it and let’s still allow people, even if they are legislators to exercise their right to freedom of association? That’s a silly old notion I know, but I’m still fond of it. I have this awful libertarian streak in me that yearns for personal liberty. I do my best to control it.

          • caroline says:

            I wouldn’t care if they went but they’re going to get payoffs. This kind of thing is no different than being feted by lobbyists and then they come back and do what the lobbyists want. I would rather be paying them than the other people. Wouldn’t you rather have them accountable to the tax payers of the state than the special interests funding this?

            • elfiii says:

              Then pay them yourself. That is your right to do.

              They already are accountable to the taxpayers. We get to decide if they keep their jobs every two years and if we decide to fire them there is nothing they can do to stop us from doing so.

              I do not care what meetings they attend and what organizations they belong to, or who pays for it primarily because I have a strong affinity to this statement:

              “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
              prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or
              of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition
              the Government for a redress of grievances.”

              with strong emphasis on the right of the people to petition their government for a redress of their grievances. In layman’s parlance that is called “lobbying”. Every single citizen is a “lobbyist” of one form or another. If I deny you the right to “lobby” then I must perforce surrender my right to lobby. No thank you ma’am. I’ll stick with lobbying and hazard the outcome that you are more effective at lobbying than me. Fair is fair.

              I’m more interested in how they vote and what they vote on rather than what goes on in any “smoke filled backroom”. To me, their vote is the sine qua non that matters. Everything else is just “noise” designed to distract the attention and convince the weak among us they have no say. Nothing could be further from the truth. The problem is too many people believe it to be so. Your vote in November is the ultimate “lobbying action” and it is a stronger influence than money.

              • caroline says:

                Well I hope you are right and all these jokers are voted out but I’m not hopeful on that account.

                • elfiii says:

                  I don’t disagree with you. If they aren’t, that means the majority of our fellow Georgians disagree with us and find their representatives to be effective elected officials.

                  If that be the case then we need to become more effective at our lobbying, in particular with the rest of the electorate, or at least enough to make a majority at the polls.

                  • L. Max Lehmann says:

                    I am responded to this remark as a volunteer advocate for a major illness support group working in Georgia for the last eight years.

                    “If that be the case then we need to become more effective at our lobbying, in particular with the rest of the electorate, or at least enough to make a majority at the polls.”

                    What most folks do not recognize is that their individual Constituent voice is often more powerful than any contract lobbyist because they vote in their representative’s District. Grassroots organizations create a force-multiplier that makes your message even more powerful. (TEA Party)

                    Some choose to believe that lawmakers can be influenced by gifts, and there may be some merit to that point for legislation that is not based on a rep’s principles. For the most part, our part-time lawmakers are influenced more by a Constituent’s story, than a contract lobbyist’s button-down PowerPoint presentation.

                    So next time you hear someone say, “The gov’t did this, that, or the other,” ask if they have ever spoken to or financially supported their rep.

                    WE are the government.

                    Few words more true than elfiii’s quote above have ever been written on PeachPundit.

  4. Three Jack says:

    I’m curious, did GA lawmakers learn about legislation like HB87 and the ‘Amazon tax’ while attending an ALEC event?

        • Three Jack says:

          ALEC opposed it Buzz…maybe that’s why it took you guys 13 years to overcome conservative opposition. But in the end, you prevailed and even succeeded in applying the misnomer, ‘tax reform’ to the legislation (that’s why I first thought it must have come from ALEC).

          • Wait, so “ALEC Exposed” hates us but we passed an Amazon tax which they presumably support because they loath corporations and we’re under the evil control of ALEC because we passed something they oppose? I’m confused.

            • Three Jack says:

              I have no idea who ‘ALEC exposed’ hates or doesn’t hate. Unfortunately ALEC does not have a list of supported and/or written resolutions and legislation on it’s website so I found it elswhere (I had never heard of ‘ALEC exposed’ til it showed up in the Google result today). Maybe ALEC should be more pro-active in posting the legislation it supports instead of letting opposition groups dig it up to do so on their websites.

              ALEC has provided ‘model’ bills for years. So it is not beyond reason to expect the group to be involved when similar legislation is being proposed in multiple states under GOP control. Apparently they oppose GOPers when it comes to taxing the internet on a state-by-state basis (at least they did 13 years ago), but they were right there pushing legislation like HB87. I was half right.

              • elfiii says:

                @ Buzz “Why did it take us 13 years to pass the Amazon tax? Good grief we need to get on the ball.”

                I would have preferred ya’ll have been even less on the ball and taken 26 years to get to this point.

  5. xdog says:

    My god, you’re citing Michelle Malkin. You can’t find a better advocate than that hysteric?

    In general I think the Georgia legislature has enough poor ideas and ineffectual leadership on their own to preclude leaving the state to find some more. In addition, if they want a ‘pro-business’ agenda all they have to do is follow their script from the Chamber of Commerce as modified by Coke, Delta and Georgia Power. That’s covered the ‘pro-business’ front for most people for years.

    Meanwhile, in your hurry to dismiss Better Georgia I noticed you failed to mention the sources of ALEC’s money. Is there some reason you don’t want us to know they rely on money from Scaife and Family Research Council and Heritage Foundation?

    Finally, when you use phrases like “left wing fellow travelers” you really lose your ability to persuade but then maybe you don’t want to do any more than keep your friends happy. I’ll decide the merits of Better Georgia on my own and if that makes me a fellow traveler in your eyes, well, bad day for you.

  6. Terran1212 says:

    ALEC frequently endorses ideas that are contrary to conservative beliefs. It’s 98 percent funded by corporations. No wonder it pushes bills that, for example, make it illegal for cities to choose to have public broadband systems. It’s a corporate racket, not a conservative organization.

    • greencracker says:

      Bless their hearts, ALEC Exposed is … wikijournalism or wikiinvestigation or wikicitizenreporting or something. Like Wikipedia, an interesting tip sheet maybe, but always needs double-triple checking. Dunno about ALEC and Orrock or not. Sounds … uh … well … not like something I would have thought offhand.

      About ALEC Exposed’s pubisher: http://www.prwatch.org/cmd

  7. Harry says:

    Seems the marching orders have gone out: shut down ALEC.

    Note to myself: pay more attention to ALEC.

  8. I Miss the 90s says:

    Why wouldn’t the “left” attack ALEC?

    It is a right-wing semi-think-tank/right-wing-legislator trade association.

    What is at issue in not a “war” on ALEC, it is, once again, the over-representation that people like the Koch’s get at the expense of the other 295million Americans.

    Talk all the rhetoric you want about being a Jeffersonian conservative (the biggest oxymoron I have heard in while) or conservative policies, the policies this group advocates are anti-consumer and anti-oversight. Plain and simple.

    ALEC’s idea of being pro-business is allowing companies to sell products they know are harmful to human beings without disclosing such details…then erecting barriers to lawsuits against said companies. ALEC may have a 40 year history of being pro-business, but it also has a 40 year history of being anti-justice.

  9. elfiii says:

    I’m an Admin on another message board that features a Political forum. I thought we were nuts over there and this place had some sanity. I see now it was the reverse that was true.

  10. Kilkenny Kid says:

    This left-wing smear campaign against ALEC is nothing short of ridiculous. It would be analogous to Republicans getting together and trying to force Corporate America to stop donating money to any environmental or civil rights advocacy groups. ALEC simply helps conservative lawmakers compare notes and develop positions on the economic issues facing the states – what a horrible sin! Time for the left to fight it out in the arena of ideas and stop trying to silence conservative voices via over-the-top pressure tactics on Corporate America.

  11. Cassandra says:

    ALEC has finally made it to PeachPundit!

    Once upon a time, a guy I know said someone told him that a friend heard ALEC set up a web-log. Yup, in those days, web-logs were not the ubiquitous forums they are today.

    In fact, the ALEC web-log required members to be sitting lawmakers, required registration and all that. The theory was that legislative ideas would be ‘floated’ in this electronic echo chamber, with an allowance for anonymity. New ideas could become vetted quickly, by peers, with no adverse personal consequences.

    Some speculate a young EE created PP along the same lines. Some might be wrong and the indictments won’t stick as no witnesses are willing to come forward. . . .

    Harry, EVERYONE should be paying attention, a lot more attention, to ALEC.

    Any forum, group, device, or process that makes it easier to pass laws, in this case by providing virtual hopper-ready legislative language, must be carefully watched because it ought NOT be easy to pass law. The founding fathers worked through a system that specifically makes new law difficult to pass.

    Personally, the anti-ALEC comments here resonate with me.

    No matter how high-minded (Jefferson conservative) or noble ALEC’s intent may be, they create a method for potentially bad legislation to pass more easily.

    I commend Buzz for his defense of ALEC because it objectives SEEM to align with his core principles, but caution him and others to take a really objective, hard look at ALEC’s work product and organization before committing to their cause.

    • I appreciate the comments Cassandra. I can’t envision my introducing ALEC model legislation without modifying it because a) I may not agree with all aspects of a proposal and b) every State is different and Georgia’s code is unique among the several States.

      Your point about passing laws in spot on. It it hard to pass a law and Thank God that it is.

      If I were to introduce ALEC model legislation (or NCSL model legislation for that matter) it would be sent to a committee. Many committees have sub-committees that deal in more specified subjects, for example the General Government Subcommittee of the Governmental Affairs committee I’m a member of. If it passes sub-committee it goes to the full committee. If it passes the full committee it’s sent to the Rules committee and it you can get it out it goes to the House floor for a vote. If it passes it goes to the Senate where they assign it to a committee and the process starts again. Very few bills make it through that process without amendment or changes. Most Legislators look at their job as committee members as one of improving good bills or killing bad ones – and that’s a good thing.

      The committee process is our friend.

  12. elfiii says:

    Well said Buzz! I wonder there is no criticism of ACCG and GMA in this thread? They do exactly the same thing as ALEC.

    • sunkawakan says:

      And our legislators have even pulled model legislation directly from the John Birch Society.

  13. freeduck says:

    “The idea that conservative Legislators would gather to discuss good ideas and that private money would be used to help defray the costs is outrageous to groups like Better Georgia.”

    Well aren’t you leaving out the other half of ALEC? Because it’s not just legislators that are gathering, it’s also corporate members. And it’s not just outrageous to “groups like Better Georgia” it’s outrageous to any informed citizen that our elected officials are writing and voting on laws with corporations before they are ever introduced in our state legislatures, often word for word, and sometimes forgetting to take ALEC’s name off of them. The result is a slew of unnecessary and frankly bad laws being passed in several states and which solve no recognizable problem for those states’ people and often make their lives worse. You are pushing an agenda for our state that is not rooted in your constituency. What is the point of making benefits recipients pee in a cup other than to increase the profits of drug testing companies and to make you feel a little bit righteous? Does Georgia have a large number of drug addicts on public assistance? How are these laws you bring back from your ALEC conventions making your people healthier, better educated, more prosperous? Listen to your people. Work for your people. That’s your job, regardless of the party you belong to.

    ” In their minds, either conservative Legislators should not be allowed to gather, taxpayers should be forced to pay for it (some States use taxpayers funds to fund NCSL, the National Council of State Legislators, which apparently Better Georgia has no problem with), or only wealthy people should allowed to participate in groups like ALEC.”

    Two things: are there any non-wealthy people who are members of ALEC (with a paid membership of $1000 for legislators and quite a bit more for corporations)? And isn’t it possible that the reason NCSL is not a problem for Better Georgia and for interested citizens in general is because NCSL is bipartisan and not a partnership with corporations?

        • Look, this idea that private sector businesses should not be allowed to participate in the political process is stupid and was correctly ruled unconstitutional.

          Corporations are collections of people just like Unions and PACs and thus should have the same access to the political system.

          • freeduck says:

            “Look, this idea that private sector businesses should not be allowed to participate in the political process is stupid and was correctly ruled unconstitutional.”

            That is correct. But we both know that’s not a claim anyone has made. We can both sit here and make up each other’s arguments and then successfully rebut ourselves, but that would be counterproductive and not very entertaining.

            Corporations involved in ALEC appear to be getting a disproportionate influence on the political process, up to and including overriding constituent interests. They are simply a mega-lobbyist. Your constituents have a right to know who is writing their legislation. How many of the corporations at ALEC operate in your district? In our state? How many people do they represent?

            • Harry says:

              Are unions and other “mega-lobbyists” not getting a disproportionate influence on the political process? Why should ALEC be singled out and treated differently? What ideas and proposals do you think ALEC should not be allowed to lobby to legislators?

              • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                ALEC should be able to (and can) lobby (within reason) any ideas and proposals they want to legislators (because of that freedom of speech thing in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution) no matter how bad they are.

                It’s not the government’s role to limit free speech or bad ideas. If someone thinks that ALEC or anyone else is pushing bad ideas and policies it’s up to them to speak out and make an issue about it (that old “personal responsibility” thing again), it’s not the government’s role to ban groups of people, no matter how big or small, from being able to express their ideas.

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