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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/9/12

Cleverly Disguised as a Charity, ALEC Functions as an Agent, a Tool of Corporate America

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Message Michael Payne



A shadow organization has been operating in this country for some time and most Americans didn't even know it existed. This organization, ALEC, aka the American Legislative Exchange Council, has now been exposed as an agent and tool of Corporate America. At the same time that is creating and promoting legislation that benefits the interests of U.S. corporations it, apparently, is also registered as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) charity. How's that for a massive conflict of interests!

Call ALEC a shadow organization or a corporate front group; or we might call those who operate it no more than corporate shills. Regardless of the label we choose this organization's objectives are just one element of the overall plan that Corporate America is utilizing to achieve their main objective, which is to gain control of this government, its legislative agenda and, by doing so, control this nation and its democracy.

Numerous reports of ALEC's alleged practices and actions in violation of IRS rules continue to appear in the news. A complaint has been filed with the IRS by a so-called liberal group Common Cause that has challenged ALEC's tax-law status, charging that it has been violating the tax rules that prohibit charitable organizations from engaging in a substantial amount of lobbying. In general, here is what this organization is being accused of doing.

The complaint against ALEC contends that it has been directly involved with the creation of voter suppression and "Stand Your Ground" laws; also with assaults on public education, environmental protections and the rights of union workers. It has also heavily promoted tough immigration proposals and resolutions calling for an end to the regulation of carbon emissions. Its objective is to establish control over local and state governments, primarily Republican, all across America. Is that what a charitable organization is supposed to be doing?

ALEC and its many members and supporters are, of course, going to insist that it is doing nothing wrong and is operating within the law; that it is truly a charity organization. So, let's see what the law says about IRS Exemption Requirements. "To be tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in Section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates. Enough said, case closed.

Since being exposed for what it is, ALEC has taken steps to disband its "Public Safety and Elections" task force that has been the primary vehicle for advancing its anti-democratic initiatives. That clearly should be considered as an admission of guilt. When you're caught red-handed embezzling, robbing a bank or running a Ponzi Scheme you can't just walk away saying that "maybe it wasn't such a good idea and I promise never to do it again." That's not going to cut it.

We should thank and applaud those corporations who have now decided to remove themselves from this shadowy organization because they do not want their reputations to be tainted and damaged by what they now know may be illegal actions and practices. Congratulations to Procter & Gamble, McDonald's, Wendy's, Mars Inc., Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, Intuit, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Reed Elsevier (owner of LexisNexis and publisher of science and health information), American Traffic Solutions and Arizona Public Service; also the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has withdrawn its support. What a great start. As information, here is the link that lists all the remaining members of ALEC; you might want to review it and decide if you want to continue doing business with any one of them.

To think that this corporate front is a charitable organization is laughable, beyond belief. To think that the IRS will continue to allow it to operate in this manner and avoid taxes when it is clearly an agent of the corporate world is incomprehensible. And that is why the IRS, after appropriate investigation, must take action to completely strip ALEC of it 501(c)(3) tax status. Hopefully, that will cause many more corporations to withdraw their membership and support, to the point that this low grade political organization is put out of business for good.

What should be very clear to the American people is that corporations no longer are satisfied with manufacturing and selling products and being an important element in the growth and stability of our economy. They want far more than that; they want to control America itself, they want to dominate government and dictate its agenda; they want to construct a new American workforce in which the minimum wage, or even less, becomes the standard. They will stop at nothing until they achieve that goal.

I have previously discussed the possibility of organizing a movement that would target those greedy, profit-crazed corporations who are doing the most damage to this nation and initiate boycotts against their products and services; here is the link to one of those articles. Now that ALEC has been exposed and we have a list of all the member corporations that still support it, it will easier to pinpoint these targets for national boycotts or other ways to deal with their attempts to undermine our democracy by forcing their way into our national legislative process.

Listening to Thom Hartmann recently, he made the point that more than a few of ALEC's supporting members corporations are headquartered in other nations and are not U.S. corporations. And yet they are being allowed to take part in this country's political process. And it is very likely that there are foreign corporations and certain governments who are now clandestinely involved with unlimited corporate funding of elections, including Super Pacs, and who can also influence our elections.

At every turn of the screw we find more and more of the underhanded, dishonest schemes and tactics of Corporate America being exposed. There seems to be no end to the myriad of deceitful actions and alliances that these corporations have set up all across this nation and within federal, state and local governments to try to subvert our Constitution and democracy.

It's time for ALEC to be dismantled and sent into the political dust bins of history. By doing so this can provide further motivation for the ethical and moral elements of this country to engage in more actions to put the spotlight on other powerful allies of Corporate America, exposing them for what they are and counteracting their deceitful agendas.

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