I received the following email on 5/18/12 from The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). It looks like the Progressive Change Campaign Committee ( http://boldprogressives.org/ ) is getting help in the effort to get law makers to leave ALEC (see link for my post on that subject below the email).
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 18, 2012
CONTACT: Sara Jerving
The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) applauds Rep. Van Wanggaard's move to distance himself from the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) "scholarship" program, and is asking that he now renounce his membership in the organization.
CMD filed a complaint with the Government Accountability Board (GAB) in March describing how the so-called ALEC "scholarship fund" that pays for ALEC member legislators' travel to resorts for ALEC meetings is funded entirely by corporations. CMD asked the GAB to issue a public ruling that these gifts violate Wisconsin's ethics and lobbying laws, which prohibit elected officials from accepting anything of value -- even a cup of coffee -- from corporations that employ lobbyists in the state. Rep. Wanggaard has insisted that he has never accepted a corporate-funded plane ticket or hotel room through his membership in ALEC, the controversial group responsible for policies that attack working people and environmental protections, and has pushed laws like Stand Your Ground/Shoot First.
"We applaud Rep. Wanggaard for acknowledging through his actions that corporations buying plane tickets and hotel rooms for elected officials could reasonably be expected to influence their official judgment," said Lisa Graves, CMD's Executive Director. "However, the structure of ALEC itself, where corporations vote as equals with legislators to approve 'model' legislation for introduction in all 50 states, warps the democratic process and puts corporations before people. We call on Rep. Wanggaard to follow the lead of 45 legislators of both parties from across the country and renounce his membership in ALEC today."
In its complaint to the GAB, CMD named all known ALEC members in the Wisconsin legislature because ALEC and the ALEC scholarship program operate under a cloak of secrecy, and information about which legislators had received the corporate-funded "scholarships" was not publicly available. Rep. Wanggaard has told the GAB he has never received an ALEC scholarship.
"We have asked the GAB for a ruling that the ALEC scholarship program violates Wisconsin ethics and lobbying laws, so that ALEC members -- like Rep. Wanggaard -- cannot accept these gifts in the future," said CMD Law Fellow Brendan Fischer. "The best way for Rep. Wanggaard to assure his constituents that he will never accept gifts of flights and hotel rooms from these corporate interests is to drop his ALEC membership."
CMD recently released a report on ALEC's influence in Wisconsin, identifying 49 ALEC members in the Wisconsin legislature and 32 bills or budget provisions that echo ALEC model legislation. That report is available here.
About the Center for Media and Democracy
The Center for Media and Democracy is a non-profit investigative reporting group whose work aids public awareness about the people, companies, and groups attempting to shape the media and our democracy. Founded in 1993, our national reporting and analysis focus on exposing corporate spin. We accept no funding from for-profit corporations or the government. The Center for Media and Democracy's websites are
PR Watch, SourceWatch,BanksterUSA, ALECexposed and Food Rights Network.