Monday, February 20, 2012

ALEC Legislators

Dear Oregon legislator,

It has come to our attention that you have a well-documented and ongoing association with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC and its funders work to overwhelm the democratic process in the State of Oregon.

ALEC, as you are well aware, is a “membership” organization that receives the tax benefits of a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. In practice, ALEC has been effective at pushing its corporate-designed political and economic agenda on state legislatures through willing conduits such as yourself. This anti-environment, anti-labor, anti-affordable-healthcare agenda is contrary to the interests of the general public. Though ALEC is not technically a lobbying organization, and so escapes ethics laws that would otherwise apply, it is clear that the goals of the organization are to bring legislators into intimate contact with corporate representatives who operate on behalf the wealthiest and most privileged Americans. Though ALEC may not lobby directly and its activities may be allowed in the legal sense, your continued participation in this secretive organization is an offense to the State of Oregon as it makes a mockery of the spirit of our open and transparent system of government.

Despite any nice sounding awards or personal perks a relationship with this organization may provide, your association is inappropriate because it diverts your attentions away from the interests of most of the people you are supposed to represent. You cannot serve two masters. Rather than hobnobbing at ALEC events, why not try spending time with low income families who are struggling to make ends meet? Why not talk to some of the homeless in your own town? Why not visit an emergency room where people are desperate for medical care they can't afford? Such associations would give you a better understanding of problems in Oregon that could allow you to conceive of real solutions, rather than just advancing some corporation's agenda. Simply put, where you spend your time and with whom you associate is an important factor in deciding whose interests you will legislate. You are associating with the wrong people.

For an elected legislator to submit model legislation, pre-written in secret by members of ALEC and subject to the approval of their corporate sponsors, is a horrifying dereliction of duty. You were not elected so that you could act as a funnel to transfer the wish list of corporate America into the legislature. Your constituents expect that you will be drafting legislation in their interests, not simply cutting and pasting the desired laws of America’s most privileged people. That you have failed to identify ALEC as the source of model legislation in the past is contemptible. If your goal is simply to be a tool of corporate America, at least have the decency to do it in the open. We demand that you cease this practice immediately and recommit yourself to transparency in government. The public has grown tired of the corrupting influence of special interests and will no longer tolerate it.

We demand that you publicly withdraw from ALEC, return any awards or commendations you may have received in the past, and reimburse the state for any state funds you have used to attend their events or advance their agenda. Further, we demand that you stop accepting campaign contributions from ALEC members or their executives and return any such campaign contributions previously received. Failure to disassociate yourself with ALEC will be a serious electoral liability and source of personal shame as we continue the campaign to educate Oregonians about this subversive organization.


The 99%

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