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highplainsdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-30-11 08:27 PM
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Press release from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) responding to recent attention
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Edited on Wed Mar-30-11 08:46 PM by highplainsdem
This is the press release at Emailwire.com

http://www.emailwire.com/release/60613-Setting-the-reco...

Setting the record Straight Much ado about nothing

By Ms. Raegan Weber, ALEC


(EMAILWIRE.COM, March 30, 2011 ) Washington, D.C. (Mar. 30, 2011) - Over the past several weeks, there has been great speculation, poor reporting, and gross misrepresentation of the American Legislative Exchange Councils (ALEC) positions on pension reform and collective bargaining. The erroneous claims have traveled through the blogosphere and grabbed the attention of mainstream media. Unfortunately, due to little or no fact-checking, ALECs positions and activities have been misreported. ALEC is setting the record straight.

With more than 2,000 members, ALEC is the nation's largest, non-partisan, individual public-private membership association of state legislators. ALECs legislative members are comprised of both Democrats and Republicans who share the same ideals. ALEC does not coordinate with any political party. ALEC is a state legislative organization with the goal of promoting Thomas Jeffersons principles of limited government, free markets, and federalism through sound policy solutions. This goal is shared by like-minded lawmakers across the United States.

ALEC provides an opportunity for its members to learn from each other and policy experts representing a variety of issue areas affecting our citizens and our economy. This interaction enables legislators to learn best practices and successes from other states. Legislators present, suggest and debate sound policies, which may be adopted as ALEC model legislation. Legislators should have the best information possible when making policy decisions. Our policies and initiatives are public and we are proud to support our legislators as they carry out ALEC principles. The complexity and diversity of ALECs public and private sector members logically suggest that there are differing opinions on almost every policy position. ALEC is also pleased to provide an environment of education to help them find sensible policy solutions to todays complex issues.

How does pension reform and collective bargaining fit in? ALEC has been educating its members for years on sound budget practices; this includes pension reform and transparency in collective bargaining. Unsustainable cost drivers threaten the financial solvency of the states. ALEC encourages states to explore every option possible to balance budgets, including pension reform and utilizing new approaches for pension funding, such as defined benefit plans. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the U.S. Department of Labor, as of December 2010, state and local government employees received benefits that were 69 percent higher than those in the private sector. Taxpayer dollars are currently subsidizing the majority of state public employee pensions and benefits (9 states have defined-contribution plans). Defined-contribution 401(k) style plans allow employees to contribute as much or as little as they want while still receiving some support from the state. They also give employees the opportunity to invest in whats best for them, and if public employees change jobs or relocate, their funds are portable.

State legislators are entrusted with the enormous responsibility of appropriating citizens funds. ALEC supports budget transparency in the proper use of taxpayer dollars. When state employee unions collectively bargain with the peoples money, this should be a transparent process. Citizens have the right to know where their money is going and how it is being used.

ALEC has a policy initiative on pension reform and balancing budgets. The Budget Reform Toolkit and Other Post Employee Benefits publications were both nationally announced and mailed to all our legislative members. Rich States, Poor States is used by state legislators throughout the country to find sound, conservative, successful budgeting practices. Each of these publications discusses pension reform. Our policy initiatives, publications and press releases on these issues can all be found on ALECs website for anyones use. These are hardly the actions of a secretive organization.

Accusations of ALEC secretly meeting with governors, ALEC running and coordinating ground campaigns against public employee unions, and ALEC wanting to eliminate public employee unions are first and foremost not true. ALECs States and Nation Policy Summit coincided with newly-elected governors meetings at the White House in December, but there were no meetings between governors and ALEC staff on any policy. If a governors policies fall under the Jeffersonian principles of limited government, free markets and federalism, and ALEC has policies similar to those being proposed, then ALEC proudly supports those policies. ALEC does not have satellite offices. We have 27 full-time employees that work in Washington, D.C. ALEC has not sent out ground troops to Wisconsin. ALEC is not coordinating a ground campaign on collective bargaining.

These wild accusations have caught the attention of the mainstream media. Quite a few reporters from state and local media have called or emailed with an unfortunate biased agenda. ALEC has been working with the New York Times and Wall Street Journal over the past couple of weeks to satisfy their inquiries. Both nationally renowned, leading papers have decided after extensive research, interviews and fact checking that there is no story. ALEC appreciates their fact-finding missions and will continue to enjoy good relationship with both newspapers.

ALEC legislators and ALEC employees are proud of our positions and policies. ALEC is for effective and efficient use of taxpayer dollars with transparency in budgeting and collective bargaining. ALEC is for public employees having flexible, manageable and sustainable pension and health plans. ALEC is proud to be the only state legislative organization that embraces the Jeffersonian principles of limited government, free markets and federalism with the policy solutions to support these ideals.

For a more in-depth ALEC statement, go to www.alec.org/thetruth .

# # #

Ms. Weber is the senior director for public affairs at ALEC. She has been a professional communicator for nearly 14 years and was a public employee in the State of Georgia and in the federal government with the George W. Bush Administration.




Editing to add the two paragraphs on that page on the ALEC site that appear to be the only ones omitted from the press release. These follow the paragraph in the release above that ends, "These are hardly the actions of a secretive organization."

http://www.alec.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Setting_the...

This brings the discussion to Voter ID. ALEC recently received an inquiry from a liberal blogger asking only about our position on Voter ID. Unfortunately, the reporter had his own agenda and chose to write a story with many false accusations and statements that had nothing to do with Voter ID. ALEC supports citizens providing a photo ID when voting in order to reduce voter fraud. A photo ID is required to rent a video from the store, so why not to vote? Each election cycle, statistics show that convicted felons and even the deceased are still voting. Showing a photo ID would help this immensely. The model legislation that was posted with this story does not specifically address what states should use for ID. ALEC leaves this to the decision to each state. This information was omitted from the article.

ALEC does not have a concerted national effort to stop people from voting. Citizens should exercise their right to vote. The most disappointing aspect of this poorly reported story is the follow up stories from mainstream media. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC chose to report that ALEC is behind a movement to limit people from voting. A columnist from the National Journal also chose to write an editorial based on a liberal bloggers misrepresentation of information. Neither MSNBC nor the National Journal conducted any legitimate fact checking by going to the original source. NPR has run similar stories regarding ALECs position on Voter ID, but the most egregious offense by NPR was the misrepresentation of ALEC's positions on prison overcrowding and the nature of our organization. ALEC will certainly be hesitant to accept any future interviews from these media sources.



Editing again to add excerpts from the ALEC page that link about NPR goes to, which is their statement on the NPR story in October of last year:

http://www.alec.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Statement_f...

October 29, 2010

Statement from ALEC on NPR Story dated 10/29/10

-snip-

A recent NPR story noted ALEC as a secretive organization that rarely allows press interviews and cultivates back-door lobbying. This could not be further from the truth, as noted by NPR visiting ALEC offices to gather information. In addition, key policy positions on prison overcrowding were provided to NPR, yet never made the online or audio version of the story.

ALEC has open doors and phone lines to the press. The press is invited to attend all ALEC meetings. ALECs mission, policies, initiatives and contact information for all employees is available on the public web site at www.alec.org . Media announcements about ALECs publications, news and invitations to the meetings can also be found on this public web site. NPR was welcomed by Michael Bowman, senior director of policy, and Raegan Weber, senior director of public affairs, to learn about our policies and procedures. NPR was provided with ALECs position on prison overcrowding and was directed to that area of ALECs web site, which is to reduce the non-violent prison population in order to save taxpayer costs. This is contradictory to NPRs baseless report that ALEC supports building more prisons.

ALEC is a private organization similar to membership organizations such as the YMCA. Federal law allows non-profits to protect the privacy of non-profit donors, but requires all non-profits to publicly disclose annual financial reports. ALEC fully complies with all federal and state requirements. ALECs public and private membership brochures are available on ALECs web site. ALEC is supported by hundreds of non-profits, corporations, foundations and individuals. Members can bring draft legislation before task forces to become ALEC policy. The policies are debated and voted on by all members. Public and private members vote separately on policy. It is important to note that laws are not passed, debated or adopted during this process and therefore no lobbying takes place. That process is done at the state legislatures.

ALEC meeting agendas are made public on the web site at www.alec.org . Meeting schedules are packed with education seminars on industry and public policy. If legislators are to establish laws to regulate business, they should be provided opportunities to learn from industry and policy experts how laws and regulations affect the economy. In the U.S., we are fortunate to live in a free-market, free-speech society where citizens, organized groups and businesses can have a voice in the development of their laws and regulations. It is the U.S. entrepreneurs, businesses and working Americans that will lead our country in sustainable economic growth and stability. Just like teachers, farmers and ranchers, senior citizens, and other groups, businesses have the right to representation and to inform legislators about their industry.

-snip-



Obviously they're on the defensive after a lot of media attention, and especially the attention that followed Professor Cronon's blog about them and the WI GOP's ill-advised demand for his emails.

It's interesting to read their attempt to defend themselves, but personally, I'll trust NPR, Mother Jones, and the rest of the media, as well as bloggers who do careful research, over ALEC's own version of what's going on.


If you check my compilation topic on the American Legislative Exchange Council, you'll find a reply about that NPR story as well as lots of other information about ALEC.
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