Well, what do you know? A reporter for Channel 11 news caught up with some Georgia legislators holed up in a swanky corporate resort holding private meetings where laws are made behind closed doors in Savannah, and also in Las Vegas, Nev., and protected by armed guards. These legislators, along with lobbyists from corporations, vote on legislation apparently to give some corporations an advantage in the marketplace.
Channel 11 was not allowed to look inside the room where laws are voted on by legislators and corporate lobbyists alike. Lawmakers are wined and dined as members of the American Legislator Exchange Council, which calls itself a 501(c)(3) educational charitable organization. It receives money from corporations that consider this to be grants, then gives this money to lobbyists, who give it to legislators.
According to a past member of ALEC, state Sen. Nan Orrock, these corporations also write bills that are voted on in these secret meetings and legislators only need fill in the blanks on these bills with their state’s name. A spokesman for ALEC stated these meetings are private and will not allow the news media to see or record what goes on in these private meetings where corporate lobbyists have an equal vote concerning laws passed in these meetings.
“A 2013 ALEC fundraising letter signed by David Ralston states that donations/ contributions are 100 percent tax deductible and fund educational efforts for Georgia legislators, and that your support of this scholarship fund is critical, enabling Georgia legislators to attend annual meetings.”
Legislators are provided these funds funneled through lobbyists, then through ALEC to legislators to cover their expenses while attending these annual meetings.
The Georgia Asbestos Claims priorities Act passed in 2007 is one bill that was passed behind closed doors that severely limits who can file asbestos claims against corporations in this state. That same year, Georgia legislature sponsors of this bill received thousands of dollars from ALEC to attend these conferences. This bill was tracked to its inception to the Venetian hotel and casino. According to Wayne Allen from the Georgia legislative council, “The General Assembly is not subject to the Georgia open records law.”
Recently, ALEC has started calling these money exchanges grants “the state reimbursement fund.” At one time, they called these money exchanges “scholarships.”
So you see, these big corporations funnel money to legislators through their lobbyists, who are allowed to vote on legislation concerning Georgia laws. Now shouldn’t that concern you and me as taxpayers?
Paul S. Barnes