Practically every progressive Democrat in the country knows what ALEC stands for—American Legislative Exchange Council—and the true purpose behind it. Rich conservatives basically took the model that has been used informally but successfully by lobbyists whose corporate clients often need precise language inserted into proposed bills to protect their interests and simplified the process, codifying it into the production of an annual slate of prewritten legislation state-level representatives can literally cut and paste and introduce as their own bills.
No one who is associated with ALEC ever wants to admit that this is what their almost dummy proof system really does—make sure conservative state representatives and state senators do the right thing.
So when I saw the video of Liz Dorland from KMTV’s Action 3 News questioning Omaha state senator Charlie Janssen about the remarkable similarity of the bill he introduced into the Omaha legislature to the model bill on the ALEC Exposed website, I wondered just why NBC wastes good money on David Gregory and his lap dog routine when someone like Liz Dorland is ready and willing to put politicians on the hot seat when the words coming out of his mouth don’t match the facts.
Dorland: “I was looking at your bill and kind of comparing it to Iowa’s bill…and there’s a lot of similarities in the language there. Can you talk a little bit about those points?”
Senator Janssen: “I really didn’t use Iowa’s bill to draft my bill. I used Indiana’s bill originally.”
[Cutaway to insert showing a close-up of the Indiana bill with a voiceover by Dorland. “Indiana’s bill? Again, every single point, down to an exception for nursing homes and a Monday deadline for bringing in your late ID – every single point matches the ALEC template.”]
Dorland: “Indiana’s is very similar to this model draft that ALEC…ALEC Exposed says that this is the model draft for Voter ID bills for a lot of these states across the entire nation. Do you know about ALEC?”
Senator Janssen: “You know what? The first time I’ve talked about ALEC in two years today is when you inquired about it. I’m not a member of ALEC, I’ve never attended an ALEC function, either here at Lincoln or they have national conventions.”
[Cutaway to insert showing a close-up of an ALEC committee member list with Senator Janssen’s name highlighted in yellow with a voiceover by Dorland: “Then I hand him this – a document that still lists the senator on a big ALEC committee.”]
Senator Janssen: “Yeah, my first year down here I was, I signed up for ALEC, then I let my dues lapse.”
[Cutaway to insert showing a close-up of Nebraska legislative documents focusing on Senator Janssen’s name in several places with a voiceover by Dorland: “So I ask him to explain why his bill is remarkably similar to ALEC’s model.”]
Dorland: “So your bill is not similar to this? Have you seen that?”
Senator Janssen: “No, I have no idea. I don’t look at any ALEC materials.”
Action 3 News also posted copies of the Iowa bill, the Nebraska bill, and the ALEC template on its website so its viewers could see for themselves whether Senator Janssen was telling the truth.
Since ALEC has been around for quite awhile, I personally wouldn’t consider this breaking news, but I can imagine that most of the general public has no idea that these kinds of things are going on.
I am at the point, though, that I would pay hard cold cash to see one of the Sunday morning talk show hosts bird dog all of their guests like Dorland does when their subjects say something that is obviously not true.