Tag Archive: ALEC

The Star Ledger’s Selective Memory

Diary rescue from the weekend. Promoted by Rosi. What do you think, Blue Jersey?

Perhaps I am beating a dead horse, but yet again the Star Ledger editorial board makes it hard to resist just one more thwack. Today the editorial board supports paid sick leave as law in New Jersey and warns against the ALEC bill banning required paid sick leave. At least they got that right.

With confidence, the editorial board writes, “No lawmaker has proposed ALEC's sick-leave ban in New Jersey — and it is not likely the bill would get far if they did. Moreover, New Jersey voters on Election Day overwhelmingly supported raising the minimum wage…The pendulum is swinging towards workers' rights, not against them.”

Ah, the selective memory of the editorial board. Do they not recall, or do they just choose to ignore, as reported by their own Sal Rizzo that, 'A Star-Ledger investigation in April [2012] found some of Gov. Chris Christie's biggest legislative proposals and other measures sponsored by lawmakers closely resembled ALEC bills” and that the Christie administration has consulted with ALEC on more than one occasion.

 

Hotshot Reporting 2012: Best Reporting by Traditional News Media

In 2012, there were a lot of things we might never have known if good journalists, good editors and their news outlets had not devoted resources to uncovering them. Sometimes this was simply a matter of going through mountains of paper or on line communication that is public record as a matter of law. But somebody had to do it, which usually means somebody else would rather it stay hidden.

Here for 2012, are some that really impressed us here at Blue Jersey, with thanks to the news organizations, and their editors & reporters for what we now know because of their work:  

Associated Press on Surveillance of NJ Muslims AP’s 24-part 2-year probe of NYPD’s secret surveillance (by the questionably-named ‘Demographics Unit’) of Muslim students, neighborhoods and places of worship in New Jersey.

UNLOCKED: Sam Dolnick’s New York Times exposé  of the consequences of New Jersey’s privatized halfway house system run by Christie pal Bill Palatucci, which led to hearings in both houses of the NJ legislature, Palatucci’s exit out CEC’s back door, and at least one lawsuit, by the sister of murder victim Viviana Tulli, killed at the hands of a CEC escapee.  (Note: Bill Orr tracked the aftermath of questionable policies by CEC for Blue Jersey).

Dolnick was looking at CEC and how Christie and Essex party boss Joe D were connected to it almost 18 months ago.

Star-Ledger brought to light the video of a mentally disabled man getting a beat down by state police as well (as well as the fact that authorities initially cleared the trooper of wrongdoing before Star-Ledger began to make inquiries.

Sal Rizzo at Star-Ledger was responsible for the Ledger’s in-depth examination  of how closely legislation from Christie & NJ Republicans matched bills written by fake-charity American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Trenton Times recently pored over 500 pages of emails and documents after TCNJ employees fall sick during chemical use in roof reconstruction on the campus. And that includes shedding light on internal emails about how TCNJ school officials, concerned staff members might require inconvenient building transfers to somewhere on campus where they wouldn’t feel ill at work, encouraged “hand holding” by administrators and the school’s environmental health officers to get workers to “live with” the odor that was making them feel sick.

Senator Bob Smith, Trenton’s Trigger-Happy Democrat

“Whenever the Democrats compromise, it seems to involve appeasing hunters, in this case at the expense of homeowners.”

-Sue Russell, Wildlife Policy Expert

The Animal Protection League is an organization dedicated to the well-being of companion animals, wildlife and farmed animals in New Jersey. We’re also committed to preserving New Jersey’s landscape to accommodate an abundance of species here in our state. Above all, we’re non-partisan and have a history of working with Democrats, Republicans and third party candidates. But you guys at BlueJersey are partisan and you do a great jobs keeping politicians on their toes, particularly when they wander off the ideological reservation and abandon party principle.

NRA’s TOKEN TRENTON HANDMAIDEN

Democratic Senator Bob Smith (Middlesex Co.) has a voting record on issues such as gay rights and reproductive choice that largely squares with public opinion and his party’s platform. It seems to work for him and his district, where voters have returned him to Trenton by comfortable margins. A cursory glance at Smith’s voting record on environmental and wildlife management doesn’t suggest anything sinister. As per Sen. Smith’s Wikidepia Page:

“Smith sponsored and passed laws dealing with such critical matters as increasing penalties for violations of environmental laws, repairing outmoded combined sewer systems, and reforming the state’s oil spill prevention efforts. Senator Smith’s legislative accomplishments include authoring the Ocean Pollution Bounty Act, Sludge Management Act, Oil Spill Prevention Act, the Worker and Community Right to Know Act and the Clean Water Enforcement Act.”

Just the sort of thing you’d want to see the chairman of the NJ Senate Environmental Committee to boast about, right?

But a closer look at Senator Smith — particularly with regards to wildlife management — reveals a curious relationship with the Hunting and Gun Lobby as well as the recently infamous American Legislative Affairs Council (ALEC), a right-wing organization “composed of conservative legislators, businesses and foundations which produces model legislation for state legislatures and promotes free-market and conservative ideas.”

Let’s go beneath the fold for the gory details.

ALEC Wants You To Believe They Are Just A Charity, Nothing More Than A Library Service

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Apparently I was wrong.  I’ve been writing for these past few weeks about ALEC and the access they have to influence legislation.  But apparently, I’m just making a mountain out of a mole hill, or so they would have you believe according to their director of telecommunications and IT task force:

“If you don’t mind me, if I can address this from a broader issue, you’ve touched on another great example. We have clearly over 800 pieces of model legislation, and they’re all there. John, me, my other, the rest of the ALEC staff, even the ALEC board, we don’t know who’s reaching in and grabbing what. It’s a library service to members, should they choose to want to use it. … And they use it, and they don’t even tell us, and they may not go on the floor and say this is ALEC legislation, they have to go through, you know, what, the bill becomes theirs, so we have no idea.”

I don’t know how many people copy the book they check out from the library and submit as their own work to a book store, but that seems to be what they’re trying to sell here. That because someone takes their work and doesn’t tell them they did it, it’s ok. But according to Bloomberg, ALEC has much more knowledge of what is done with their work than they’d like to let on and it looks like they lied to Bloomberg to cover it up. Follow me below the fold for more.

Lawmakers Quitting ALEC Around The Country, But None From New Jersey

Just this morning, Common Cause – read more in the New York Times about their research work on ALEC – sent email urging NJ members to ask NJ AG Jeffrey Chiesa to investigate whether ALEC is a corporate lobby improperly registered as a tax-exempt body. I’ll say ‘Fat chance’ Chiesa investigates that, but go ahead and ask. Meanwhile, here’s what’s going down in Jersey, or isn’t …

– promoted by Rosi

April has been a busy month on the ALEC front around the country. So far, 28 lawmakers have ended their ties with ALEC this month alone, but take a look and you’ll see something is missing from the list:

What’s missing? Keep going.

While ALEC Organizations Flee, Christie And NJ Supporters Remain Silent

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After his initial contradictory statements on ALEC, Chris Christie and all of those with New Jersey ties have remained silent, organizations have been dropping their support left and right. First it was Coke and Pepsi, which was discussed in this video segment on the Ed show:

You can learn more about ALEC at the website www.alecexposed.com. Pepsi and Coke were quickly followed by Intuit, makers of Quicken software and then by Kraft who said:

“ALEC covers numerous issues but our involvement has been strictly limited to discussions about economic growth and development, transportation and tax policy. We did not participate in meetings or conversations related to other issues. Our membership in ALEC expires this spring and for a number of reasons, including limited resources, we have made the decision not to renew.

Sure, no problem, they just have limited resources. Kraft’s exit has now been followed by the Gates Foundation, who said they were only in it for access to legislators, and McDonald’s:

“While [we] were a member of ALEC in 2011, we evaluate all professional memberships annually and made the business decision not to renew in 2012,” Ashlee Yingling, a McDonald’s spokeswoman, wrote in an email.

Jump below the fold for more: who on Team Christie still backs ALEC, Koch brothers as usual, how are ALEC drafted bills being pushed as potential New Jersey laws? and updates: Wendy’s makes an ALEC decision & Steve Oroho does too.

ALEC argues NJ Officials just need to learn more

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Maybe they didn’t like the Governor saying he had no clue who they were? (Even though no one believed him) Or maybe they didn’t like their member organizations dropping out over the mounting opposition? Either way, ALEC went on the offense in the Star Ledger this past weekend with a guest column that is rather interesting and used Christie as their defender:

Calling these groups’ assertions “completely ridiculous,” Gov. Chris Christie cited nationwide policy discussions as sources of inspiration in critical issues such as education reform. He also cited common sense – which is decidedly lacking among the well-funded forces arrayed against ALEC and its 2,000 state legislator-members.

Actually, he said it was completely ridiculous that people said he had ties to the group, not that others were attacking the group. And clearly it’s just inspiration and common sense dontcha know, not connections and contributions. I also like how they point out it’s the well funded forces against them, not their well funded effort that is the real problem. They continued:

While Christie’s excellent leadership has much in common with ALEC’s principles, it is true that New Jersey legislators and his office have little involvement with ALEC. But perhaps New Jersey could improve in areas if these elected officials learned more, not less, about ALEC’s policy ideas

You see, they believe Christie has excellent leadership (which magically happens to be identical to ALEC’s agenda at times), he still has no clue who they are, really. And even though diaries at Blue Jersey have documented all the close associates of Christie with ties, ALEC believes it would be better if officials just learned more about them:

ALEC has never introduced a bill in a legislature, has never signed one into law and has never lobbied for passage of legislation. Instead, it provides a forum for 2,000 state legislators to discuss solutions to policy challenges.

Now that was my favorite part of the whole piece. They’re not responsible for anything except for providing a “forum” for discussing solutions. It just so happens those solutions come with contributions and draft legislation that others can introduce, sign and lobby for. Now that’s some good spin on what they do, or say they don’t do.

Deep Thought: Slipping From Print

Man alive, the “Who’s ALEC?” story was everywhere this week! The in-depth piece by Sal Rizzo of the Star Ledger, which brought this story to the fore, ignited coverage across the state and country:

The New York Times – ALEC and Old Yeller

The Atlanta Journal Constitution – ALEC’s Secret Influence on State Laws, Legislators

Think Progress – Christie’s Education Bills Bear Striking Resemblance To ALEC Models

Working America – ALEC Influence Over New Jersey Lawmakers Exposed in Star Ledger Report

Governors Journal – Christie Accuses Press

Jersey Jazzman – Smart ALEC in New Jersey

Even Wall Street Journal reporter Lisa Fleisher tweeted her incredulity at Christie’s claim of ignorance, then pushed back when the governor tried to accuse her of fostering a conspiracy theory.

You know who didn’t cover a lick of this, not even behind their paywall? PolitickerNJ.com. Why wouldn’t the “virtual watercooler for the state’s political elite… a necessary daily stop for politically-minded web surfers” have even a blurb… a tweet… a pixel about this?

Dunno.  

(Note: Our coverage of this story can be found here.)

6 degrees of Christie ALEC Separation

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For someone who has never heard of an organization, Governor Christie sure has a lot of close friends that are connected to it. Lets recap the ties of Christie associates to ALEC, the right wing corporate funded legislation writing group out of Washington:


Click to Enlarge

Those are just the people we know of, but you have to wonder who else in the Administration knows of ALEC that has been pushing these bills to GOP legislators, as they themselves say is being done.

With all these connections being exposed in New Jersey, we aren’t the only state where there are issues with ALEC. In Wisconsin, an ethics complaint was filed against 43 Republican legislators alleging inappropriate gifts. Let’s not forget, reports say ALEC behind they were also behind the Stand Your Ground law that has made so much news recently in Florida. And on top of that, Coca-Cola pulled its support from ALEC over voter restriction efforts they have been pushing around the country.

Well when you look at that, if I were Christie I might try to get away with saying I don’t know who they are either. The question is, will the New Jersey media?

Christie’s shifting ALEC explanations

Examining the believability of Gov. Christie’s ALEC statement.  – promoted by Rosi

Chris Christie isn’t even in the country, yet his story about his knowledge (or lack there of as he’d have you believe) about ALEC, a conservative organization that writes legislation for Republicans continues to shift. First we got this response from his press secretary in the initial Sunday story:

“The governor said to me, ‘Who’s ALEC?’

Sure, I believe that and so did everyone else who was looking to buy bridges. But that story didn’t even last a day after reporters started questioning Christie’s stunning lack of knowledge of the group. In typical Christie style, the next day the Governor lashed out over the story calling it “completely ridiculous:”

“I don’t even know these people, and I’ve never had any interaction with them,”

Ok, so it’s not that he doesn’t know who the group is anymore, it’s just that he doesn’t know the people and hasn’t any interactions with them. Except for the fact that his former Chief of Staff Rich Bagger occasionally consulted for ALEC and was on their board, while Assemblyman (and former state GOP chair) Jay Webber and Senator Steve Oroho are their State Chairs.  Maybe the Governor never speaks to any of those people? But Christie also added a note which undermines his lack of knowledge of who they are:

He noted that he’s been invited to speak at the group’s conferences twice but has declined.

So he’s knows he’s been invited to a group twice that he doesn’t know exists or anyone with it?  And lets not forget this additional information thats some of Christie’s closest confidants helped with a Seminar just down the street from the State House only months ago:

E-mails and other records obtained by The Star-Ledger show that Christie’s then-chief of staff and former health commissioner were involved in an ALEC policy seminar in Trenton in December. Legislative liaisons inside the governor’s office have mined ALEC for advice on budgetary matters, Medicaid changes and privatizing government services, according to e-mail records, beginning in the earliest days of Christie’s governorship and as recently as December.

I wonder if that’s one of the invitiations he declined to the group he knows nothing of. Well which is it Governor? Do you not have a clue who they are, have never talked to any of their people or are some of your closets advisors consulting with and participating in activities for ALEC, while you’re turning down invitations yourself?