Anti-ALEC Hysteria Reaches New Heights.

By now you’ve probably seen this report by 11Alive on a recent meeting of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, down in Savannah. You also might have seen this article claiming the meeting was a “bill writing meeting.” These report made it look as if something evil and nefarious went on there. I wasn’t there but I have been to other ALEC meetings in the past and know what happens.

A couple of years ago I wrote about the political Left’s hatred (there’s no other word for it) of ALEC. It’s sad to see 11Alive and the AJC pick up the “ALEC is evil” narrative. As I’ve written before, conferences like the ones ALEC puts on are valuable, especially to part-time Legislators. They help us keep up with advances in technology, learn about how other states are solving problems, how we might help us solve similar problems in our state, hear from experts in various fields, and network with legislators from across the country.

The political Left finds value in this too as evidenced by the fact they have started several organizations to do EXACTLY what ALEC does – exchange ideas and craft model legislation. I’ve written about that as well, and also learned of the Left’s newest attempt to compete with ALEC. You know what, I applaud these efforts. Sharing, debating ideas, learning from industry experts and other legislators are good things. What bothers me is the the twisting of what ALEC is and does and the lack of scrutiny of left-leaning groups doing the exact same things as ALEC.

If ALEC is bad, so are left-leaning legislative policy conferences, but I haven’t see any stories about Georgia Legislators attending left-leaning policy conferences. That fact alone should make people pause before believing all the terrible allegations about ALEC.

Erick Erickson spoke with Bill Meierling of ALEC last Thursday and cast doubt on several items in the 11Alive story. Most notably, why didn’t the 11Alive reporter simply comply with ALEC’s media availability policy? I realize that’s not as dramatic as attempting to barge into a room, but it would have been a more accurate report. Listen for yourself:

One other point I’d like to raise. There are dozens and dozens of legislative policy conferences every year in America. They can either be funded with private funds or public funds. Georgia doesn’t, but many states help fund some of these organizations with tax dollars. I oppose public funding of these types of conferences. In my opinion, tax dollars should be used for the public good, not to enhance my education – especially in tight budget times. Thus, I support private and corporate funding of legislative policy conferences. ALEC receives no taxpayer funds to my knowledge, which opponents claim is one of the things that makes them bad. I wholeheartedly disagree with that notion. Furthermore, the fact that ALEC offers scholarship funds for people to attend is common practice at legislative policy conferences. I hate to break it to you but not all legislators are rich folks with extra money laying around to attend policy conferences. Scholarships play an important role in making sure more legislators attend these meetings.

Of course, I could be wrong. Perhaps the government should fully fund all legislative policy conferences to avoid the influence of evil corporations. Or only rich people should be allowed to be Legislators. Or better yet, conservatives shouldn’t be allowed to meet together to discuss policy.

That’s my opinion. I welcome yours.

24 comments

  1. benevolus says:

    ALEC isn’t bad because it’s right-leaning. It’s bad because it is further access to legislators by big business. Us regular citizens do not have that kind of access. Those counter orgs on the left are there to try to represent regular people- workers, not some some artificial entity whose sole purpose is to make a profit.

    Big businesses don’t need further access to legislators, and legislators don’t need to be spoon-fed legislation crafted by a consortium of big businesses designed to maximize their profits. This is way far away from what many of us think the role of government is supposed to be.

  2. Raleigh says:

    Representative Brockway,

    I believe a former State Senator Nan Orrock made the accusation about that meeting being a “corporate bill mill” It also seams another current State Senator, Renee Unterman also wasn’t very happy with ALEC. Channel 11 didn’t fabricate that.

    I watch both reports and I didn’t see the reporters try to “barge into a room” I did see them asking questions which got them kicked out of the hotel where they were legally registered as a guest. I also saw Chatham County Deputies ask them to leave the premises. When the deputies were asked what law the reporter had broken the answer was “Don’t say nothing.”

    Whats even more revealing is the letter denying Channel 11’s open records request. Is that what you call “Transparency in Government”? You’re very own Legislative council stated “The General Assembly is not subject to the Georgia Open records law.”

    If closed door ALEC meetings are so innocent and so benign then why can’t those be open for anyone and everyone to see OR report on? You don’t think they are discussing things that would make a representative uncomfortable discussing with their constituents do you?

    If you think the Channel 11 report made state representatives look bad don’t blame Channel 11 blame yourselves.

    If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck most likely it’s a duck.

      • Raleigh says:

        Representative,

        I have not listened to Mr. Erickson broadcast with Alec Spokesman Bill Meierling, I will, however Channel 11 did allow ALEC to give a response which I read. Again it did not answer the question “If closed door ALEC meetings are so innocent and so benign then why can’t those be open for anyone and everyone to see OR report on?” More goes on in meetings than is published on any meeting outline. Not to forget the Legislative council’s response to the open records request. Now can Bill Meierling, Eric Erickson, or you answer that question or fill the open records request?

        ALEC’s response on Channel 11 reminds me of Joe McCarthy’s response to CBS and Edward R. Murrow. Channel 11 did not edit ALEC’s response.

        It’s easy to prove your case. Simply open those meetings and fill the open records request.

        • Currently, the Legislature is not subject to open records requests. I’d like to see that change so long as we can keep personal information constituents sometimes email me private.

          • Raleigh says:

            You and I are in agreement on that point and yes some personal information and certain business information should be keep private if harm could come from it’s release.

            BTW thanks (for having the cojones) for bringing this subject up. Thumbs Up.

          • TuckerDawg says:

            It is true that disclosure under 50-13-1, et seq is not mandatory, since the definition of “Agency” specifically excludes the General Assembly. But there is nothing in the open records code that would prevent a member of the general assembly from voluntarily being transparent.

              • Raleigh says:

                GOOD! Now only 179 Representatives and 56 Senators left to make their declarations! Much to the disappointment of a few I will not hold my breath. 🙂

              • Dave Bearse says:

                Buzz, have you ever received any ALEC “scholarships” or other compensation for attending an ALEC-sponsored meeting, and in what amounts?

                • Buzz has served on ALEC’s Communications and Technology Task Force and is still an ALEC member. He attended their Education Task Force meeting in DC in 2010. It’s hard to imagine he hasn’t taken a good bit of ALEC cash over the years. Go to Common Cause’s website to learn more about ALEC’s work writing Mad-Lib bills for lawmakers.

  3. Three Jack says:

    Agree with Raleigh. Seems most of the legislation generated from these ALEC meetings panders to the fringe in order to gain votes. Or worse, helps out certain private industry to the detriment of most citizens.

  4. saltycracker says:

    It has to be difficult for a Republican to not blush when explaining ALEC and PACS and why they need more and more money for government and campaigning while desiring to be reelected time and time again.
    Term limits

  5. objective says:

    also- these organizations are more than drafters of legislation. they are policy advocates, and legislative strategists. as advocates, they often create policy “solutions” that are in search of a problem. and in doing so, they create the problems, or needs, that their legislation would solve. it’s one way to stay relevant.
    it’s not that they shouldn’t be part of the legislative conversation, but there could be more transparency as far as legislative origins, where any lobbyist writes the original draft of a bill.

  6. bradknopf says:

    So, the only answer to “If closed door ALEC meetings are so innocent and so benign then why can’t those be open for anyone and everyone to see OR report on?” is that they legally aren’t required?

  7. Just Nasty and Mean says:

    Rep. Brockway,
    Please provide the name of any group that provides taxpayers and consumers a similar forum and equivalent access to legislators?

    Don’t bother naming religious (Faith & Freedom Coalition, or Tea Party groups (9-12, N. Ga. Tea Party Coalition). Few–if any—legislators would bother to attend their sessions.

    Where is the counterbalance to these left wing groups you attack, and ALEC that listens to taxpayers?

    I anxiously await your response.

    • TheEiger says:

      “Don’t bother naming religious (Faith & Freedom Coalition, or Tea Party groups (9-12, N. Ga. Tea Party Coalition). Few–if any—legislators would bother to attend their sessions.”

      What…. look what I found with the google machine. Care to revise your remarks?
      http://www.roadtomajority.com/

      • Just Nasty and Mean says:

        TheEiger— So, you are saying this organization caters to Georgia legislators and Georgia taxpayers and consumers, and we should expect a decent representation of Georgia elected to attend this group to hear from and deal with Georgia issues?

        Is that what you are saying?
        Care to adjust your remark? Try to keep up.

        Still waiting for Rep. Brockway to reveal a similar advocate for Georgia’s taxpayers and consumers…….

  8. TheEiger says:

    You said don’t list Faith and Freedom Coalition because legislators would not attend. I gave you a link with quite a few people listed on it. But whatever.

    I don’t think ALEC is the evil demon you all want to make them out to be. And I don’t think Buzz is a bad legislator because he has defended going to these meetings. Everyone on here seems to think that Buzz has been bought or corrupted in someway because of his statements. You all are fools in you believe that.

    How about this JNaM. Get off your couch and quit telling others how they are horrible and suck. Run for office and change the world. Anyone can hide behind their fake names on a blog and act like they could fix the world. Go take a stab at it.

    • benevolus says:

      OK, so The F&F was a bad example, but his point still remains,: ordinary people do not have this kind of access and we are who the legislators are supposed to be representing. ALEC is not inherently evil (debatable), but their significant influence has become glaringly obvious in the past few years and it is generally detrimental to us workers who aren’t well connected to the Fortune 500.

      It’s like cheating on a test. Legislators seem to be too willing to accept these pseudo-bills pre-writen for them. They should do the bill writing themselves and hopefully consider other points of view on the issues. There are many examples of these so called drafts being offered verbatim as bills all across the country.
      The march towards feudalism continues.

  9. saltycracker says:

    Don’t think the intended purpose of ALEC is bad but the bastardization of it sure is.

Comments are closed.