by John Weckerle
We recently published an article on the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case, in part a response to a Sandia Tea Party article on the subject. We urged our readers – and everybody else, although we’re not sure how they’d know we were urging without reading – to refrain from speculating on the degree to which race was a factor in the tragedy until the facts are in. We repeat that request, and want our readers to understand that our interest in mentioning the case is associated with Florida’s now-infamous “Stand Your Ground” law. It is not the merits of this law, but its origins that interest us today. Multiple sources have linked the law to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a consortium of conservative state legislators and corporate interests. Put simply, this “consortium” drafts legislation for enactment at the State level, and its members then bring that legislation forward in their individual State legislative bodies. The range of legislative subjects is incredibly broad, and the legislation typically focuses on advancing conservative approaches but especially corporate interests.
In response to the Martin/Zimmerman tragedy, a number of corporate/nonprofit entities – Kraft, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and Intuit, and the Gates Foundation – were reported to have pulled out of the organization. You might, and should, question why they were there in the first place. We question whether some of them left at all: as of 7:30 MDT today, the organization’s web site continues to list Derek Crawford of Kraft Foods as one of its Private Enterprise Board members. With the recent announcement that ALEC is discontinuing its efforts associated with gun laws and other “non economic” causes came a few articles (a random one here) reporting that ALEC will no longer promote “social policy,” we saw a few articles suggesting that ALEC was doing the National Rifle Association’s bidding. On the other hand, a few news outlets did some reporting casting some doubt with respect to the question as to who was errand boy to whom (one here). Leaving aside that question, we’ll simply note that ALEC, an organization of which we’ve been aware for years, found itself back in the slightly dim area next to the spotlight. The entire ALEC issue had received less attention than one might have expected – but then again, those corporate sponsors do buy television, radio, and TV time.
As a result of the attention, ALEC issued a statement that they were discontinuing their “non-economic” efforts. We move on to another subject associated with ALEC, albeit one that has received even less attention in the popular press, that is certainly economic in nature: the recent and relatively quiet repeal of a law in Wisconsin requiring equal pay for women. As our readers know, we do tend to want to go for “mainstream” news sources where we can, but these seem so far down on the search indices on this subject that we have our choice of linking to a Huffington Post article or Monday’s Daily Show coverage – and while we are providing a link to the latter, and we think it’s worth watching, we’d like some of our more family-oriented readers to know that there’s a bit of raunch toward the end of the latter story. Of these two sources, only the Daily Show short brings forward the role of Wisconsin legislator ALEC member Glenn Grothman – and again, since some of our readers are perhaps not interested in some of the imagery that might be found in that video, we’ll summarize to the extent that Mr. Grothman is on record as saying that making money is perhaps more important to men than women because young men may want to be breadwinners some day (New York Daily News article here). We invite our readers to weigh in on that position… According to the Daily News article, other pieces of legislation of interest to women included one “barring abortion coverage through health insurance exchanges” and another “mandating doctors to consult privately with women seeking abortions.”
With all the renewed attention on ALEC, we started wondering just who in the New Mexico legislature might be involved – because, quite frankly, having New Mexico laws written by a consortium of business interests and predominantly out-of-state legislators does not sit any better with us than it probably does with most New Mexicans. The ALEC site doesn’t list all the members, but we found the following list in a Sourcewatch article:
House of Representatives
- Rep. Paul Bandy (R-3), ALEC State Chairman and Guest at the December 2010 International Relations Task Force meeting
- Rep. Jimmie Hall (R-28) and Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force Alternate
- Rep. William Gray (R-54), ALEC Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force Alternate
- Rep. Nathaniel Quentin Gentry (R-30), ALEC Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force Alternate
- Rep. Rick L. Little (R-53), ALEC Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force Member
- Rep. Alonzo Baldonado (R-8), ALEC Education Task Force Member
- Rep. Dennis Roch (R-67), ALEC Education Task Force Member
- Rep. Paul Bandy (R-3), ALEC Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force Member
- Rep. Nora Espinoza (R-59), ALEC Health and Human Services Task Force Member
- Rep. Larry A. Larranaga (R-27), ALEC International Relations Task Force Member
- Rep. William R. Rehm (R-31), ALEC Public Safety and Elections Task Force Member
- Rep. Anna M. Crook (R-64), ALEC Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force Member
- Rep. James R.J. Strickler (R-2), ALEC Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force Member
- Rep. Thomas A. Anderson (R-29), ALEC Telecommunications and Information Technology Task Force Member
- Rep. Dennis J. Kintigh (R-57), ALEC Civil Justice Task Force Member
- Sen. Sander Rue (R-23),Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force Member
- Sen. George K. Munoz (D-4), ALEC Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force Member
- Sen. William E. Sharer (R-1), ALEC Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force Member
- Sen. Mark L. Boitano (R-18), ALEC Education Task Force Member
- Sen. Vernon Asbill (R-34), ALEC Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force Member
- Sen. Sue Beffort (R-19), ALEC Health and Human Services Task Force Member
- Sen. William H. Payne (R-20), ALEC State Chairman and International Relations Task Force and Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force Member
- Sen. Rod Adair (R-33), ALEC Civil Justice Task Force Member
- Former Sen. Kent L. Cravens (R-21) (resigned September 2011 to become lobbyist for [[New Mexico Oil and Gas Association), former ALEC State Chairman, and Public Safety and Elections Task Force member
Now, that’s 21 legislators, not counting former Senator Kent Cravens, who apparently experienced the ALEC version of the Rapture – all but one of them Republicans. What we found most interesting was that our locality is quite well represented among the ALEC ranks. Senator Sue Wilson-Beffort, of Senate District 19 is prominently listed, as are ALEC State Chairman Senator William Payne of District 20, Senator Mark Boitano of Albuquerque’s District 18, Senator Sander Rue of “just across the river” District 23, and Senator Rod Adair of District 33, just to our south. On the House side we have Jimmie Hall, Nathaniel Quentin, Larry Larranaga, and Bill Rehm of Albuquerque; Thomas Anderson of western Bernalillo County; District 8’s Alonzo Baldonado; and another neighbor to the south, Dennis Kintigh.
We are asking our readers to alert these people to the existence of this article, and we are inviting them to provide us with a disclosure of their involvement with ALEC and a list of bills that they have introduced or supported that are or were supported by ALEC or based on its model bills. We are also, quite bluntly, asking that every New Mexico legislator with any ties to ALEC sever them immediately and henceforth serve their State’s interests and not those of other entities. We especially direct this request to our own Senator, Sue Wilson-Beffort -and to be fair, to our Representative Jim Smith, whose name we are very glad not to see on the list. We suggest that all our readers contact their Senators and Representatives, and demand to know whether they are a part of the ALEC network or supporting its initiatives. Let’s keep the running of New Mexico to those who live here.
A few related links:
- Source Watch – American Legislative Exchange Council
- NPR – Who Writes Our Laws?
- WCVB TV Boston – NRA, ALEC Team Up For Causes Beyond Gun Laws
- WFIE TV – ALEC Stops Pushing “Stand Your Ground” Laws
- Crooks and Liars: Gates Foundation Announces It Will Withdraw Funding From ALEC
- Sarah Kennedy: Our Resident Smart Aleck Talks About ALEC