Bill Moyers & Company
A national consortium of state politicians and powerful corporations, ALEC — the American Legislative Exchange Council — presents itself as a “nonpartisan public-private partnership”. But behind that mantra lies a vast network of corporate lobbying and political action aimed to increase corporate profits at public expense without public knowledge.
In state houses around the country, hundreds of pieces of boilerplate ALEC legislation are proposed or enacted that would, among other things, dilute collective bargaining rights, make it harder for some Americans to vote, and limit corporate liability for harm caused to consumers — each accomplished without the public ever knowing who’s behind it. Using interviews, documents, and field reporting, the episode explores ALEC’s self-serving machine at work, acting in a way one Wisconsin politician describes as “a corporate dating service for lonely legislators and corporate special interests.”
Former health care industry executive Wendell Potter says, “Even though I’d known of [ALEC] for a long time, I was astonished. Just about everything that I knew that the health insurance industry wanted out of any state lawmaker was included in that package of bills.”
Following up on a 2012 report, this update includes new examples of corporate influence on state legislation and lawmakers, the growing public protest against ALEC’s big business-serving agenda, and internal tactics ALEC is instituting to further shroud its actions and intentions.
“United States of ALEC” Executive Producer Tom Casciato says people who saw the first report “might be surprised to learn that, despite more than 40 companies having dropped out of ALEC, the organization is still going very strong.” He adds, “ALEC doesn’t publish a list of its members, so covering will always be hard, but in a democracy it’s a good idea for people to know where their laws originate.”
“United States of ALEC” is a collaboration between Okapi Productions LLC (filmmakers Tom Casciato and Kathleen Hughes) and the Schumann Media Center, headed by Bill Moyers, which supports independent journalism and public watchdogs including the Center for Media and Democracy, and Common Cause, whose investigators are featured in the report.
Intro Producer: Robert Booth. Intro Editor: Sikay Tang.
(From Bill Moyers & Company)