Another Scandal for ALEC, Atlantic Bridge, and the Koch Brothers

Atlantic Bridge, the British affiliate organization to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is in the midst of a scandal in the UK that is bringing into light the corruption-laced practices of these right-wing groups on both sides of the pond.  

To refresh your memory, ALEC whose motto is “Limited government, free markets, federalism” is a powerful lobbying organizations. So, in case you’re wondering who funds this group, you won’t be surprised because they include companies like Exxon Mobil, tobacco giant Philip Morris and the NRA.  

They regularly hold conventions where our legislators and lobbyists can get together. Center for Media and Democracy, non-profit media research group, reported that “during these events state legislators are presented with pre-drafted bills drawn up on behalf of its members.”  

The Guardian wrote in its article:  “Each year, close to 1,000 bills, based at least in part on ALEC model legislation, are introduced in the states. Of these, an average of 20% become law.” One of its biggest supporters is the Koch Foundation, whose founders, the oil barons Charles G Koch and David H Koch, have funnelled about $55 million to climate-denial front groups and are generous donors to the Tea Party movement.  

ALEC had a partnership with Atlantic Bridge, which was a think tank founded in 1997. Its purpose was to “bring people together,” i.e., John Ashcrot, Karl Rove, Jon Kyl, Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman, “who have common interests.”  

In my research about Atlantic Bridge, I found this out via Wikipedia: They were given charitable status in 2003 as “an education and research scheme.” In a 2010 report by the Charity Commission, it ruled that it was “not evident that [it] had advanced education” and “may lead members of the public to call into question its independence from party politics”. It was ordered to enact a 12-month review to bring it into line with its charitable objectives. 

In 2003, David Cameron’s Defense Secretary Liam Fox and Atlantic Bridge’s London-based director, Adam Werritty, partnered with ALEC to form the Atlantic Bridge nonprofit. ALEC supplied staff to the Atlantic Bridge, and Fox and his associates spoke at ALEC events. These “events” included meetings between American politicians and business lobbyists.  

Here is what ThinkProgress recently wrote about the scandal going on in the UK and their findings after investigating ALEC.  

Earlier this month, the U.K.’s Charity Commission shut down Atlantic Bridge after an investigationrevealed that the nonprofit has operated as little more than a front for various corporate lobbying and Tory party interests.  

The scandal has already forced the resignation of David Cameron’s Defense Secretary Liam Fox after the revelation that the Atlantic Bridge’s London-based director, Adam Werritty, had improperly acted as a high level advisor to Fox while employed by a number of military industry and lobbying clients.  

ThinkProgress has covered ALEC for years, and what we have found closely resembles the pay-to-play allegations against Atlantic Bridge. Our investigations helped expose the fact that health insurance lobbyists used ALEC to write anti-health reform legislation, that Koch Industries and coal lobbyists had used ALEC to kill clean energy programs, and that private prison corporations pushed immigrant detention laws with assistance from ALEC. 

Watch the ThinkProgress video report of the 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council conference:    

Speaking at a 2008 ALEC conference in Chicago, Fox said, “we at Atlantic Bridge have been delighted at the success of our partnership with ALEC and we’re excited about what we might achieve together in the future.” “In particular,” he added, “we are patting ourselves on the back at having chosen such a disguised and solid values-based organization to be our partner because the values that you have need to be embedded at every level of government — not just national or federal government.” Given the way Fox exported ALEC’s stealth lobbying agenda to the UK, one must wonder when the Atlantic Bridge corruption scandal will hit the United States.  

Shortly after news broke of the Atlantic Bridge controversy, the websites for ALEC and Atlantic Bridge went down. Both now claim to be undergoing maintenance.  

Presidential candidate Herman Cain’s spokesperson and foreign policy adviser also has strong ties to Atlantic Bridge.

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8 responses to “Another Scandal for ALEC, Atlantic Bridge, and the Koch Brothers

  1. ALEC is a dangerous association between the wealthy and those in political power. It reeks of oligarchy. Nice report Angela

    • Thank you! There power stretches over multiple continents. I think the most disturbing thing I found is the fact they actually write the legislation that many state governments pass.

  2. A great post. Makes one wonder with all these companies belonging to ALEC, that anything you buy, or use, the money they get from us, helps pay for the shit they are doing.

  3. Angela,
    This is good stuff. Now I know where Ocie got all his spunk!

  4. whatsunderthecarpet

    Danger lurks, but no one notices until it is too late. The link between extreme greed and extreme right wing sentiment has always been strong. These people are powerful and have no fear. The links between bribing foreign governments (Koch and Nigeria et al), the links between Tea Party and ex Minister Fox, Werrity’s role is long and deep and runs right into The Atlantic Bridge which was a cover for clandestine information passing between rogue security agency elements in UK and USA and linked to many other security agencies with agendas outside that of their governments. The fact is that greed and corruption have taken over peoples government and these dangerous elements will be in complete control if the mainstream media stops ignoring what is happening. The links are strong but it is not too late to break the chain. There are good people in all the political parties but they are becoming drowned out by lobbyist money. Are Americans going to allow a Koch henchman like Cain to become President? Are Americans going to continue to allow Koch industries to pump cancer causing pollutants into the atmosphere? Are the Brits going to allow officials of Atlantic Bridge to pretend to be conservatives and run thier government supervised by Fox (ex Chairman of the Conservative Party) and his corrupt gang. Are your young men and women going to die horrible deaths in wars from which these people profit. Is it not an insult to their memory that Fox went to visit the troops and on the way back stopped of for a drunken party with prostitutes. WAKE UP people, take back your country. Occupy the middle ground that made you great and strong.

    ACT NOW

  5. Amelia Starker Wade Mai

    This report was very informative about how much the lobbyist control government and who is supporting them. I would like to know more about ALEC, atlantic bridge and the kock brothers. I was surprised to know that Kock’s henchman was Cain. This sure changes my mine about voting for the man. Give me more information about this.

    • Also his 999 tax plan which he touts as simplifying the tax system actually lowers the wealthy taxes from 15% tax rate on dividend (which is where they make their money, not on biweekly or monthly payroll checks) to 9% and will raise taxes on middle and lower class by adding a 9% sales tax on top of the current state tax we now pay (in Alabama is 9% so that equates to paying 18+% on everything people buy from food to clothing).

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