What Are Bad "Democrats?" ALEC Has A List... A Membership List
ALEC Democrat, state Sen. Ophelia Ford, Harold's crooked aunt
Yesterday we focused in on one especially "bad Democrat," corrupt Blue Dog Tim Holden. His old pal Jack Abramoff, who paid him bribes to vote for his corporate clients' agendas, in defining bribery (in his book, Capitol Punishment, summed up Tim Holden's shameful career in DC:
[C]ontributions from parties with an interest in legislation are really nothing but bribes. Sure, it's legal for the most part. Sure, everyone in Washington does it. Sure it's the way the system works. It's one of Washington's dirty little secrets-- but it's bribery just the same...
And you often hear me railing against the Democratic corruptionists, like Hoyer, Crowley, Israel, Wasserman Schultz... not to mention Rahm Emanuel, their prophet, who aggregate the corporate bribes and pass them out as spoils to the rest of the congressional caucus to buy their power positions within the party. There tends to be an intersection between corruption and conservatism-- like the way a horse goes with a carriage or love with a marriage... in the words of the Sammy Cahn classic, made into a smash hit by Frank Sinatra for a TV production of Thorton Wilders' Our Town.
But, for now, it's the ideological component I want to look at. About a month ago, we looked at another one percent-- the Democratic legislators who have joined ALEC. That's a pretty good jumping off point to talk about "Bad Democrats." Any Democrat who can't sit down and speak publicly about Republicans the way Elizabeth Warren did in this discussion of Scott Brown, is in the wrong political party.
In light of that, let's look at a report published by CNN about PCCC organizing around getting Democrats out of ALEC. Corporations, especially those dependent on mass marketing, like McDonald's, have pulled their support of the Koch brothers' political cat's paw in the state legislatures. Why should any real Democrat have any part in this virulently anti-family organization?
A progressive group is again taking on some Democratic state legislators, calling on Friday for them to drop their membership or association with the American Legislative Exchange Council.
ALEC bills itself as a think tank and research resource that brings together state legislators and private business leaders. It says it does not lobby, but holds meetings which bring together legislators and business leaders, as well as provides draft legislation and research to state policymakers.
While the organization says it is bipartisan, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee says it would be "a sham to project that it has a bipartisan nature."
On a Friday conference call with reporters and supporters, state legislators aligned with the PCCC called on their Democratic colleagues to part way with the organization, citing its involvement in legislation with which they disagreed.
Some, including New York state assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who called the group a "sham," were critical of ALEC's role in "stand your ground" legislation, a law brought to national prominence in the February shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.
"No Democrat should give aid and comfort to this organization by participating in it, to promote its alleged 'bipartisanship,'" Jeffries said. "It is very important that members of the Democratic Party, who traditionally have stood for enfranchising voters and have stood for promoting the rights to organize and for sensible gun laws should withdraw from an organization that that pushes an agenda that is exactly the opposite."
Others criticized the organization's role in education and voting legislation and accused it of helping corporations "boost their bottom line at the expense of the American people."
CBS News had a similar take. PCCC counts 26 states with Democratic legislators in ALEC-- like right-wing New Mexico state Senator John Sapien, who has been pressured by a progressive opponent, Rep. Benjamin Rodefer, to distance himself from the nefarious organization.
After successfully pressuring an influential conservative legislative group to pull back its involvement in social issues, liberal groups are launching the next iteration of their fight against the group, known as ALEC.
Joined by a handful of Democratic state officials, the grassroots organization Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) announced today it will be targeting "bad Democrats" who are affiliated with ALEC to drop their association with the group. Other organizations, like the civil rights group Color of Change, continue to pressure the corporate backers behind ALEC, which stands for the American Legislative Exchange Council.
States should be the laboratories of democracy, Democratic state Rep. Marko Liias of Washington said on a PCCC conference call. But "ALEC wants to turn our state capitals more into Dr. Frankenstein's lab," he said. "ALEC is where corporations go to quietly undermine the rights of working families."
ALEC, an association comprised of 2,000 state legislators from all 50 states and representatives of corporations, drafts templates of legislation for any state to adopt. It recently came under fire for pushing controversial measures like Florida's "stand your ground" law and voter ID laws. After liberal groups threatened to boycott its corporate sponsors, several companies like Coca-Cola and Blue Cross Blue Shield Association dropped their ALEC membership. ALEC subsequently decided to narrow its focus to economic issues.
Are there Democrats hanging out with the ALEC fascists in your state? Check it out.
UPDATE: Curve Ball
What's in a name? How about the Progressive Choices PAC? Sounds awesome, right? But when I started digging around and looking for what they did with the money they collected I found thousands and thousands of dollars in contributions to the most horribly anti-Choice, anti-gay, anti-working family, pro-Republican members of the Democratic Caucus:
John Adler (NJ)- $1,000
Jason Altmire (Blue Dog-PA)- $2,000
John Barrow (Blue Dog-GA)- $5,000
Melissa Bean (Chamber of Commerce-IL)- $21,000
Leonard Boswell (Blue Dog-IA)- $7,000
Allen Boyd (Blue Dog-FL)- $3,000
Bobby Bright (Blue Dog-AL)- $2,000
Debbie Halvorson (IL)- $7,000
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (Blue Dog-SD)- $4,000
Baron Hill (Blue Dog-IN)- $14,000
Tim Holden (Blue Dog-PA)- $1,000
Joe Lieberman (CT)- $11,000
Heath Shuler (Blue Dog-NC)- $2,000
Do you recognize the names on that list? They all have one thing very much in common. By no stretch of any imagination could anyone of them be described as a "progressive." Now this PAC also contributed-- here and there-- to the odd progressive. But it's an Illinois-based PAC and I noticed lots of money went to conservative Bill Foster and none went to progressive John Laesch. There was no contribution to Dr. David Gill but his conservative opponent, a dedicated corporate shill-- and loser-- Matt Goetten got a grand. Before I looked it up to see who was behind the PAC, I was absolutely positive it was Rahm Emanuel. I was wrong. Thanks, a lot Jan Schakowsky-- laundering progressive dollars for an incredibly reactionary pile of shit.