Am I the only one who was surprised to read in this morning’s newspaper that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the shining star of progressive Seattle’s non-profits, had been giving money to the ultra-conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)? According to SourceWatch, “ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line.”
ALEC is known for writing right-wing legislation that has been voted into law around the country, including the infamous “Stand Your Ground” laws, various voter suppression bills, anti-environmental measures and efforts to privatize public education. Not surprisingly, the Koch brothers are huge supporters. This is hardly the company one would expect the Gates Foundation to keep.
Gates and some other corporate sponsors have backed away from ALEC (as are Kraft, McDonalds, Wendy’s and Coca-Cola. Amazon.com was apparently a member as late as 2011. ALEC’s “private enterprise board” includes Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, Wal-Mart and Exxon Mobil. The site ALEC Watch also lists Microsoft and Boeing as members.
Corporate support for ALEC raises many troubling issues, considering the group’s extremist and anti-democratic agenda. Is this use of the company treasury being approved by boards of directors? If so it says something about the sorry state of corporate governance. The same is true of non-profits. And it’s not as if corporate America doesn’t already have the ability to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars into lobbying. The stressed middle class lacks this, much less an ALEC. Meanwhile, these giant corporations can tout their “values” while financing an organization that leads legislators by the nose to the detriment of the 99 percent and the public good.
As Bob Dole would say, “Where’s the outrage?”
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Today’s Econ Haiku:
Best Buy boss forced out
The reason is a secret
Big box gossip mill