This morning ProgressOhio, the Center for Media and Democracy, Common Cause and People for the American Way released a report detailing questionable practices by Ohio legislators, their staffers, and lobbyists involved with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
A PDF copy of the the report is available for download at http://tinyurl.com/ALEC7deadly.
The report is based on thousands of pages of public records detailing how ALEC, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and the corporate lobbyists that fund it, have deeply intertwined themselves into Ohio's legislative process.
Among the top findings in the report are:
- The Director of Scheduling for the Ohio House speaker was asked to rearrange the 2012 session dates around ALEC events.
- Senior staff from ALEC advised a legislator handling requests from the press that, "Actually, it would help ALEC out a lot on this issue if they said that they didn't use ALEC model legislation."
- Hundreds of Statehouse emails were sent during work hours solely to schedule legislators for free dinners from lobbyists at ALEC events. The lobbyist battles to take certain lawmakers out to dinner are so intense that a legislative staffer resorted to lying.
- Despite ALEC's claims of non-partisanship, legislative staff circulated a membership recruitment letter to Republicans only.
- ALEC's co-chair was incredulous that a corporation received 3 tickets to an ALEC event at a baseball game for "a lousy $1,000."
ProgressOhio Executive Director Brian Rothenberg commented, "This report undeniably shows that the spirit of the ethics laws are being flouted. It is clear that ALEC and the corporate lobbyists that fund it are flouting long-standing rules meant to protect citizens from pay-to-play government. Every dollar spent on a secret meal or exotic junket shifts power from the public to corporate lobbyists."
ProgressOhio's February 2012 report documenting the legislative influence ALEC has in Ohio is available for download here [pdf].
The Center for Media and Democracy's report on ALEC and Ohio's ethics laws is available here.