William Cronon, author and professor of history, geography and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is taking flak from Republicans for revealing the actions of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and their involvement in Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker and his legislature’s illicit agenda that has fired up the nation because he published an op-ed in the New York Times titled “Wisconsin’s Radical Break,” in which he suggested Walker has turned his back on the state’s long tradition of “neighborliness, decency and mutual respect,” and then published an even more eviscerating post describing who is really behind the GOP agenda on his blog.
Prof. Cronon pointed out that it’s important to understand that events at the state level don’t always originate in the state where they occur. Indeed, far from it. To find out more about these corporate lobbyists and organizations who have been trying to destroy workers, the poor population, and Senior citizens, there are many places online that track them, such as Right Wing Watch, Source Watch, and Open Secrets.
So who does Prof. Cronon really believe is behind the Republican attack on workers, the poor population, and Senior citizens while rewarding the rich, large non-taxpaying corporations who own many politicians in the many State and Federal Governments? He doesn’t believe the Koch brothers are the only driving force behind the illicit GOP agenda. He’s been trying to discover the deeper networks from whence the legislation came, and he appears to have found them.
The most important group mentioned by Prof. Cronon is The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which was founded in 1973 by Henry Hyde, Lou Barnett, and Paul Weyrich — the figurehead of the New Right and co-founder of the Heritage Foundation among others. For forty years ALEC’s goal has been to draft “model bills” that conservative legislators can introduce in the 50 states. Your State legislators are paid well by these lobbyists and organizations for being told what to do by ALEC at your expense.
ALEC’s Partners Play an Important Role in Wisconsin and Other States
ALEC’s website claims that in each legislative cycle, its members introduce 1000 pieces of legislation based on its work, and that roughly 18% of these bills are enacted into law. ALEC was responsible for Arizona’s controversial anti-immigration law that passed last year. It’s necessary to start paying more attention to ALEC and the bills its promoting, as well as the politicians it owns, including Scott Walker and company. A visit to the “About” menu on ALEC’s website will give you a sense of the organization’s history, its current members, and its funders. But to get to the true depths of collusive corruption, you need to visit the site’s “model legislation” page, the gateway to all the bills ALEC has drafted. Unsurprisingly, you can’t view that legislation unless you’re a member.