Either Chris Christie is lying to us about knowing what ALEC is, or he is a figurehead who doesn’t know what the people he hired are doing in his name.
Tag Archive: ALEC
The Trayvon Martin murder has brought the “license to kill” laws in states like Florida to the forefront. Thankfully, New Jersey has some of the most common-sense gun control laws in the nation. Yet, with Governor Christie in the pocket of ALEC, will he work to weaken the safeguards in the state?
When he was asked directly by an NRA member at a “town hall” meeting late last year, Christie didn’t answer and simply turned the question into a political polemic on why Democrats should be defeated in legislative elections (see video below)
More recently, gun advocates have railed about Christie’s lack of enthusiasm for loosening up the state’s firearms regulations (for example, here and here). There are two possible explanations for Christie’s obfuscation:
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Remember, the Governor doesn’t know who ALEC is and doesn’t know anything about them. Except for lots of people he’s friends with do. Not only are Jay Webber (Fmr. Republican Party Chair) and Senator Steve Oroho the New Jersey co-chairs, but surprise there’s more:
Documents provided through open-public-records requests showed that Christie advisers occasionally consult ALEC on other issues. Richard Bagger, the governor’s former chief of staff, was a member of ALEC’s board of directors representing Pfizer in the early 2000s. Christie said Bagger never brought up ALEC during his two years as chief of staff.
So now on top of two Republican Legislators serving as co-chairs, the Governor’s right hand man for the first two years of his administration and longtime friend was a board member. Yet the Governor still wants you to believe he knows nothing about this group that magically has it’s bills passing the Legislature, many of which are signature Christie issues. And of course, when the media asks for proof there are no connections, they get this:
The newspaper found that at least three education reform bills backed by the governor, one executive order and one agency rule accomplish the same goals set out by ALEC, with nearly identical passages in eight instances. The newspaper did not say how the ALEC bills got to New Jersey. Christie’s office would not name the policy advisers who wrote the bills and did not make them available for interviews.
Must be more of that Christie transparency. Keep digging Governor. We believe you, really we do.
Chris Christie must be absolutely thrilled to be in Jerusalem today, so he doesn’t have to answer to this superb report in the Star-Ledger from Salvador Rizzo:
A Star-Ledger analysis of hundreds of documents shows that ALEC bills are surfacing in New Jersey, where Republican Gov. Chris Christie is trying to remake the state, frequently against the wishes of a Democrat-controlled Legislature.
Drawing on bills crafted by the council, on New Jersey legislation and dozens of e-mails by Christie staffers and others, The Star-Ledger found a pattern of similarities between ALEC’s proposals and several measures championed by the Christie administration. At least three bills, one executive order and one agency rule accomplish the same goals set out by ALEC using the same specific policies. In eight passages contained in those documents, New Jersey initiatives and ALEC proposals line up almost word for word. Two other Republican bills not pushed by the governor’s office are nearly identical to ALEC models. [emphasis mine]
As is his pattern of behavior, Christie denied knowing anything about ALEC:
Christie’s spokesman, Michael Drewniak, said there is no connection between the efforts spearheaded by Christie and ALEC.
“Our reforms have no basis in anyone’s model legislation,” Drewniak said. “The governor said to me, ‘Who’s ALEC?'”
Christie declined to comment for this story.
It reminds me of when Christie denied he knew charter school founder Amir Khan, even though Khan was sitting right behind him – for the second time that year!
Christie took to Twitter last night to continue his denials:
@mattkatz00 Never spoken 2 anyone from ALEC nor had any contact w/them. Today’s story much ado about nothing. No influence on me whatsoever
@lisafleisher Yes, really. Have had no contact with them. Sorry to kill another conspiracy theory on you.
Yeah, it’s just a happy coincidence the ratings Christie wants to give to teachers match ALEC’s categories exactly. Nothing to see here; move along…
What Rizzo documents so well is that an enormous amount of ALEC’s influence is being felt in education policy. Why is that? Well…
ALEC is funded by union busters like Wal-Mart and Verizon. Breaking public worker unions leads to downward pressure on wages for the entire labor market. These people have every economic incentive needed to want to break the NJEA, which is what almost all of these “reforms” are really about.
Further: as ACTING Commissioner Chris Cerf reminds us, education is a “$650 billion sector, second only to health care. ” Do you think these people might want to get a taste of that? Do you think they are willing to make a relatively small investment, based on the potential for huge returns?
Meanwhile, an examination of campaign finance records from the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission showed New Jersey legislators who are in ALEC or have introduced bills resembling ALEC models have received $202,000 from the same corporations funding the council, $57,700 since 2010.
Kyrillos, who said he hasn’t been involved with ALEC for 20 years, has collected $72,000 from ALEC members since he first became a legislator in the late 1980s.
Christie collected more than $73,000 for his gubernatorial run, Webber more than $17,000 in races for the Assembly, and Oroho nearly $7,000 while running for the state Senate.
That’s chicken feed to these guys. Why wouldn’t they see how far they can push schools toward privatization if it costs them this little?
One last thing: The Ledger’s Editorial Page Editor, Tom Moran, has regularly mocked those who have been warning about Christie’s reformy agenda – including yours truly. I’ve often suspected that Moran doesn’t read his own newspaper, but he’s going to have a hard time ignoring Rizzo’s reporting here.
What do you say, Tom? Are we all still wearing tinfoil hats?
Caught up in all the April Fool’s fake stories yesterday was an extensive Star Ledger Piece about how many of the Governor’s biggest bills match model Legislation pushed by a group called ALEC. And according to the Governor’s office, they’d like you to believe he has no clue about it:
“Our reforms have no basis in anyone’s model legislation,” Drewniak said. “The governor said to me, ‘Who’s ALEC?’
Ok then, lets humor the Governor and look at who ALEC is:
It’s called the American Legislative Exchange Council, a little-known conservative group headquartered in Washington, D.C., and funded by some of the biggest corporations in the United States – most with a business interest in state legislation. ALEC has quietly made its mark on the political landscape by providing state governments with mock-up bills that academic and political experts say are, for the most part, tailored to fit a conservative agenda. In recent years, states – particularly those with new Republican governors and legislatures – have been flooded with ALEC’s model bills. Nearly 1,000 of them are introduced every year, and roughly one-fifth of those become law, according to ALEC’s own count. ALEC’s bills are especially attractive because they are written so they can virtually be copied and pasted onto legislative proposals across the land.
Hmmm, so according to the Governor’s office there is this great service that writes all your conservative legislation for you and he knows nothing about it? That’s like my friend growing up who used to try to buy papers online and said he was just being creative to make sure he had more time to learn about other things. Basically that’s what is going on here by New Jersey Republicans: