Today, new evidence of the extent to which Montana’s legislature has been corrupted by out-of-state corporate interests has come to light. Citizen advocates have released documents showing that several Montana legislators received all-expense paid junkets where they were wined and dined by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The latest ALEC extravaganza kicks off tomorrow in Washington D.C.
As Cowgirl readers know, ALEC is the bane of workaday Montanans’ existence. It’s corporate America’s mainline to corrupting the lawmaking process. At lavish, closed-door “summits” they write “model bills” and instruct GOP state legislators to force them through back home.
ALEC won’t say which Montana lawmakers are showing up for tomorrow’s posh retreat. However, documents released today reveal some of the state lawmakers who were in on these junkets from 2006-2008.
This influence-buying scheme is illegal in some states, and should be in Montana. Probably some smart democratic legislator is already coming up with a bill to this effect.
The list of the Montana junkateers who are still in office includes:
Elsie Arntzen R-Billings
David Howard R-Park City
Lee Randall R-Broadus
Llew Jones R-Conrad
Cary Smith R-Billings
Wendy Warburton R-Havre
Scott Sales R-Gallatin County
Jesse O’Hara R-Great Falls
Tom McGillvray R-Billings
Roger Koopman (now on the PSC)
Verdell Jackson R-Kalispell
Jeff Essmann R-Billings
Debby Barrett R-Dillon
Rick Ripley R-Wolf Creek
Bob Lake R-Hamilton
Krayton Kerns R-Laurel
Besides those listed above there are many other legislators who are members of ALEC. Some have already been busted directly introducing ALEC bills, including: Mark Blasdel, Jason Priest, Ted Washburn, Scott Reichner, Pat Connell, Tom Berry, Jeff Welborn, and Jon Sonju.
What kind of laws is ALEC pushing this year? Lots. One way to find out if a bill is ALEC boilerplate is to compare it to the lists of the latest model legislation from the various corporations which can be found here. Examples of new model ALEC bills include:
- a law to require Attorneys General to do the legislature’s bidding,
- requirement that all public employees must personally pay the costs of producing public documents unless the printed item does not display the publication’s printing cost,
- a resolution for a constitutional convention to eliminate consumer protections,
- repeal of voting access laws,
- and ironically, a bill to create a new government commission to identify ways to cut to state government–at taxpayer expense,
and dozens more. Some of the bills are designed to enhance corporate profits by stripping consumer protections from the laws, while others are “message” bills designed to enhance GOP chances in upcoming elections by forcing democrats to vote on controversial, if impractical, bills.