ProgressVA Exposes the Influence of ALEC; House Allows A Bill's Preliminary Approval for A Pre-abortion Ultrasound Bill
[Editor's Note: As we prepared to note Virginia's challenge to the legislative process, we were alerted to this happening as outlined by the Richmond Times Dispatch: "The Virginia House of Delegates today gave preliminary approval to a measure requiring a woman to receive an ultrasound before having an abortion."
"Members advanced the bill to a final vote on Tuesday after rejecting an amendment proposed by Del. David L. Englin, D-Alexandria, to require a woman's consent before undergoing a trans-vaginal ultrasound." Read the rest of the story at the Dispatch or the AP's article.]
But back to the effort to reveal ALEC's influence in Virgina:
"It is no coincidence that so many state legislatures have spent the last year taking the same destructive actions: making it harder for minorities and other groups that support Democrats to vote, obstructing health care reform, weakening environmental regulations and breaking the spines of public- and private-sector unions. All of these efforts are being backed — in some cases, orchestrated — by a little-known conservative organization financed by millions of corporate dollars."
— The New York Times Editorial, 2/13/12
"The American Legislative Exchange Council was founded in 1973 by the right-wing activist Paul Weyrich; its big funders include Exxon Mobil, the Olin and Scaife families and foundations tied to Koch Industries. Many of the largest corporations are represented on its board."
A new report released details the disturbing level of influence exerted on Virginia's legislature by a secretive, corporate front group. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is funded by corporate contributions, has been writing bills that Virginia legislators are passing off as their own work on everything from education to health care to voting rights. The report, ALEC Exposed: Who is writing Virginia’s laws? was written and researched by ProgressVA, a progressive advocacy group.
Key findings in the report include:
- At least 50 bills introduced in the Virginia General Assembly that were drawn from ALEC model legislation
- Over $230,000 in taxpayer money spent on sending legislators on junkets to ALEC conferences to meet with corporate lobbyists behind closed doors
- Over 100 current and former legislators with ties to ALEC, including Speaker of the House of Delegates William Howell, Governor Bob McDonnell, and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli
"Simply put, a secretive, corporate front group is writing Virginia's laws," said Anna Scholl, Executive Director of ProgressVA. "Even worse, Virginia taxpayers have shelled out over $230,000 for the privilege of our representatives having exclusive access to corporate lobbyists behind closed doors. Our legislators were elected to represent Virginia families, not corporate bottom lines. Legislators who kowtow to a corporate agenda are nothing new in Virginia, but secretly copying and pasting legislation from corporate lobbyists is a step too far. This is an egregious violation of the public trust. If our representatives are so desperate for legislative ideas, they should consult the people they were elected to represent. We'll even give them the advice for free."
ProgressVA encourages Virginia citizens to access the online report to see if their legislator is working for their constituents or corporate lobbyists.