In our current corrupt setting, the fourth branch of the Government has proved to be, not the press, but organizations like the "American Legislative Exchange Council"; ALEC. ALEC is so powerful that legislators take it's legislative recommendations verbatum to the floor of their governing bodies. Bill Moyers refers to the situation as "The United State of ALEC" -- with little exaggeration. And it is allowing wealthy people from around the country to conspire to pass corrupt legislation and work together to get that legislation passed. Because it meets in secret, is not transparent, and results in such nasty laws. Folks want people to leave it. I think that national bodies meeting about important national issues should be part of democracy. I just think that everything such bodies do should be above the table and transparent, and that they should not be theaters for combinations and conspiracy. Unfortunately, most of what ALEC does is not exactly secret. The same abolitionist/prohibitionist and racist laws get passed across the country based on ALEC recommendations.
ALEC was responsible for:
- the dissemination of Voter Purge and ID laws: http://www.politicususa.com/2012/06/07/dirty-red-state-secret-alec-gop-voter-purge.html a few years ago.
- And it is the host for the exchange of laws from the Anti Abortion crowd (through Americans United for Life") to legislators around the country,
- protectiong monsanto: labeling environmentalists as terrorists
This prompted one person to send a letter to the Justice Department asking for a RICO investigation:
RICO Acts have been requested before with relationship to ALEC, and there are some provisions of the Hobbes act, or laws against anti-trust that could apply to ALEC meetings I believe, and I wish that the Fed would investigate them, though I doubt they will. ALEC is too convenient to both parties. As a target of hate for the Democrats and a tool for the Right. Actually investigating criminal conduct? I'm not cynical but I am realistic.
ALEC is also a symptom of an empty Governing Niche
But that is not what interests me. It is what such a powerful legislative advisory body means to the country. It's not a body that has representation from all the stakeholders, or the "Choice" crowd could also originate their ideas there. To me the problem isn't just that they do so much bad, but that they are filling a niche in governing process that needs to be filled in a corrupt way. I'm not sure that my ideas of corruption have any but constitutional remedies, but when an organization and its related system are badly constituted that automatically opens the door to other, more prosaic forms of corruption that can be reached with legal remedies.
Where is the democratic equivalent to ALEC? We have groups that serve similar roles, though not financed on the roundings from billionaires accounts, but there is no formal "advisory legislative" role that makes sense in the country. And that gap not only allows in organizations like ALEC, but it enables a committee of doctors from medicaid to set procedure billings, enables 2000 professional lobbyists to write international Trade law for their companies, all with no input from all stakeholders and with corrupt results. Process corruption seems harder to see than outright overt corruption. The problem with ALEC is that we make legislation freezing out stakeholders even when we don't have them meeting at giant conventions where they are wined and dined with caviar and good food. Our system suffers from too little representation (republican ideology) and too little democracy (participation). And we can combat that if we see ALEC as a symptom and not just an enemy.
There is a lot more to find and write about. But that is enough for now. It makes a good jumping off ground. If you want more on this follow Bill Moyers and some of the URLs I supplied.