ERIC ZUESSE FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The far-right American Legislative Exchange Council claims that every member of the state legislature in two states is a member of their organization.
Recently leaked documents from the "ALEC Board Meeting, August 6, 2013, Chicago, Illinois," list the number and percentage of each state's legislature that have signed onto ALEC; and, under "# of Legislators," and "# of ALEC Members," Iowa has 150 in each column, and South Dakota has 105 in each column. The third column, for both states, shows the "% of ALEC Membership in Legislature" as being "100%." At the opposite end, the lowest percentage is 1%, in New York. The second-lowest is New Jersey, 2%. The third and fourth-lowest, tied, are just 4%, shown in both Maine and Vermont. The fifth-lowest is New Hampshire, 6%.
That table appears on page 39 of their report.
Page 20 presents the text of the oath of office that the leading ALEC member in each state must swear to in order to win or retain his position: "I will act with care and loyalty and put the interests of the organization [ALEC] first." ALEC's Senior Director of Public Affairs told Britain's Guardian, when asked about this: "All legislators are beholden to their constituents' interests first - if they are not, they will be held accountable at the ballot box." In other words: the only thing that ALEC's lead legislator in any state might stand to lose if he violates his oath to ALEC is the vast contributions from the corporations that fund ALEC, which will then probably stop throwing more money into his campaigns. Of course, the purpose of those mega-corporate campaign donations is, for each such state leader, to make sure that he "will be held accountable at the ballot box," if he violates his pledge to ALEC. In other words: ALEC survives simply by fooling conservative voters to vote for the stooges that the corporations that fund ALEC want to write the laws for them.
In some countries, this is called "corruption," or even "fascism," but in the United States, it's called merely "politics," or even (by the five Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court) "freedom of speech."
A few members of ALEC are Democrats, but those are the most conservative Democrats, whom the large corporations support only because most of the voters in those districts already know that the Republican Party is controlled by large international corporations (which are otherwise sometimes called, in the U.S., simply "Wall Street"). The best-financed Democrats in those less-rightwing districts are usually the most conservative "Democrats" there.
This is how American politics is controlled from the top; and it's also why the United States has the most unequal distribution of wealth of all of the world's economically developed nations. When a few aristocrats control the minds of many fools, that's what happens, and it's not democracy but instead the Orwellian opposite of that: commonly called "fascism."
Pages 15 and 17 of their report contain the "Memorandum" to ALEC from their law firm, explaining how their Orwellianly-called "Jeffersonian Project, Inc., has been established as an organization exempt from tax," and by means of which sub-organization their mega-corporate sponsors can get tax-deductions for their lobbying expenses, via ALEC. The lawyer says (page 17), "The Jeffersonian Project is indirectly controlled by ALEC through a provision in its bylaws requiring that its board of directors be appointed (or removed) by ALEC." These people aren't kidding around, and all other U.S. taxpayers have to take up the tax-load that the controlling elite slough off in this way. But, after all, conservatives say that such "social services" (ALEC is, after all, an "educational organization") should anyway be shed by government and performed instead by "the private sector," via "charities," which are really just ways for these people to get tax-writeoffs for things like lobbying the legislators, and propagandizing the public. It's a smart business-plan, used by many "nonprofits" whose top executives receive considerable remuneration for their ample services to the aristocracy.
The documents identify ALEC's National Chairman as John Piscopo, of whom wikipedia says "In October 2012, he was one of nine US state legislators who went on an industry-paid trip to explore the Alberta [Canada] tar sands [which are 50+% owned by America's Koch brothers, who are the chief financial backers of ALEC], publicly described as an 'ALEC Academy'." The Keystone XL Pipeline, which would be 25% owned by the Kochs, is also strongly pushed by ALEC, and it would carry the Kochs' tar-sands oil to two Koch refineries near the Texas coast for shipment to the European Union, but the EU's environmental laws prohibit such oil under the EU's anti-global-warming provisions, and President Obama is trying to force the EU to weaken those regulations in order to increase the net worth of David and Charles Koch by around $100 billion. It seems that the Kochs don't need to pay Obama to do their bidding; perhaps he does this service to them out of his personal conservative respect for them, but it's not something he discusses publicly.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.