April 3, 2011- The billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch have drawn sharp criticism for their extensive giving to libertarian causes. Though some of their organizational ties are public, many are unknown, thanks to a provision in the tax code that allows the Koch brothers and other donors, on both the left and the right, to conceal the recipients of their largess, even as they get to write it off on their taxes.
Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem: require all nonprofit organizations that engage in political advocacy to reveal their donors.
True, individuals must disclose on their tax returns the details of large gifts to charitable organizations, known as 501(c)3 groups from the section of the tax code governing them. But this information is kept private by the Internal Revenue Service. While gifts given directly through foundations must be made public, the wealthy can give without leaving fingerprints by routing money through “donor-advised funds” sponsored by 501(c)3 groups — which don’t have to publicly name their donors.
April 1, 2011- As members of Congress consider whether to block U.S. EPA regulation of greenhouse gases, many state legislators across the country are cheering them on.
Eight states ranging from Michigan to Virginia have adopted formal resolutions this year pressing Capitol Hill lawmakers to block what they term the agency's regulatory "train wreck." Some 14 other state legislatures have parallel measures that are working their way through committees in state chambers.
The action comes at a time when Republicans have made historic gains in state chambers in November elections. It also represents the growing influence of a free-market group of industries and state legislators, the American Legislative Exchange Council, that recently touted model legislation condemning EPA, analysts say.
That model legislative language offered by the council via its "train wreck" website and companion documents has popped up in nearly identical form in most of the states passing and considering the measures.
A Tactic I Hope Republicans Will Rethink:Using the Open Records Law to Intimidate Critics
March 24, 2011- Here’s the headline: the Wisconsin Republican Party has issued an Open Records Law request for access to my emails since January 1 in response to a blog entry I posted on March 15 concerning the role of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in influencing recent legislation in this state and across the country. I find this a disturbing development, and hope readers will bear with me as I explain the strange circumstances in which I find myself as a result.
This shadowy organization has played an extraordinary role in shaping pro-corporate legislation in a number of states.
March 31, 2011- As puzzle master Will Shortz might say, what is a four-letter acronym for a virtually unknown, but politically powerful conservative organization? If you guessed ALEC, you won't be receiving an NPR lapel pin, but rest assured, you are in very elite company.
Most people are unaware of the existence or reach of this shadowy organization. The members of ALEC would rather you remain ignorant of their purposes. In fact, these folks are so uncomfortable with anyone knowing about them that a University of Wisconsin history professor is being hammered by the Republican Party of that state for suggesting in an entry on his blog that in order to better understand the actions in various states with new Republican governors whose radical legislative proposals are remarkably similar, it might be worthwhile paying attention to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
March 26, 2011- Some of you undoubtedly remember Hillary Clinton in the 90s saying that there was a "vast right-wing conspiracy" out to get her husband. She was roundly ridiculed, but of course she turned out to be right.
Many have commented that the sudden onslaught on legislation across the country attacking women, unions, government employees, public schools, health care reform, election reform, immigration, and middle-class workers in general seems too coordinated to be accidental. I assumed it WAS coordinated but couldn't put my finder on how.
All off a sudden last week, I happened to run into three references to a group called ALEC: the American Legislative Exchange Council. I started to browse their website and went "holy shit." There it was hiding in plain sight. One of the major progressive blogs, AmericaBlog, wrote about it on March 20:
April 4, 2011- As of last Friday, just three groups have spent nearly $1.4 million to keep Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) ally David Prosser on the Wisconsin Supreme Court — 40 percent more than Prosser’s opponents have spent to defeat him. Moreover, new evidence unearthed by the Center for Media and Democracy suggests that Prosser’s advantage comes from a familiar source. Nearly $400,000 of Justice Prosser’s support comes from Citizens for a Strong America (CSA), a group with close ties to the billionaire Koch brothers:
April 2, 2011- This is huge. Police and firefighter unions have been aligned with Republican candidates for a long time, and even the callous treatment of 9/11 workers wasn't enough to turn them against the Republicans. So this is very big news indeed:
WASHINGTON — Leaders from two unions known to support the Republican Party warned of serious repercussions for GOP candidates in the 2012 elections, saying the onslaught of anti-labor bills in state capitals has shifted their political allegiances.
“Our political principles are pretty straightforward. We’ll support those that support us,” Harold Schaitberger, general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, told HuffPost. “We tend to stick with those who stick with us.”
“There is a distinct possibility that the pro-labor candidate in the next election will be looked at much more favorably than their overall record,” Chuck Canterbury, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, told HuffPost. “The vast majority of our membership will put other issues aside.”
April 1, 2011- La Crosse-area Democrats say they have collected enough signatures to recall Sen. Dan Kapanke over his vote to curtail collective bargaining for unionized state employees.
Recall organizer Pat Scheller says volunteers have gathered more than 15,500 signatures and will file the petitions in Madison Friday. If approved, it would be only the fifth recall of a Wisconsin state legislator. The Government Accountability Board will determine whether the signatures are valid.
The Republican senator has defended his vote for Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill as a necessary step to balance the budget while minimizing layoffs. Kapanke did not immediately return a call for comment Friday.
The La Crosse Tribune says 19 recall efforts were registered against 16 senators between Feb. 24 and March 2.