Category Archives: Crimes

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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Democrats And Their Inability To Circle The Wagons

I want to start off by saying I am so disappointed with Anthony Weiner (actually with all these representatives who can’t both literally and figuratively speaking keep their pants on). He was truly one of our( liberal) best representatives. He was not shy about calling out the Grand ‘Ol Party’s hypocrisy.

He was a voice for the middle and lower classes, the Americans that do not have a voice in our politics. At a time when the power and influence on our politics/politicians is shifting so sharply and swiftly to corporations and the elites, we are in need of a voice like his.

I am absolutely stunned that he would make such a huge mistake like this, but I am more stunned at my party’s response to it and their willingness to throw him away. Lets keep in mind, he was not Vitter who paid hookers for sex or Ensign who had an affair with a member of his staff whose entire family was dependent on him for their income or Craig, (remember he’s the guy with the “wide stance”)who was vocal about his opposition to homosexuality and gay marriage while frequenting an airport bathroom that was being investigated for complaints of lewd acts. What was he guilty of, extremely poor judgment and then trying to cover his mistakes by a week of lying to America and his constituents. 

That being said, the Democrats should not have come out for his resignation. He does not work for them. He works for his constituents in Brooklyn, and they made their views loud and clear, they wanted him to continue to represent them.

Weiner’s fellow Democrats had every right to come out and voice their disappointment and disgust at his actions, but they do not get to choose our representatives…his constituents do. He did not break any law. He at least deserved to serve out his term in Congress and then allow his constituents to decide if his actions are enough to not re-elect him, not his fellow congressional democrats.

Nancy Pelosi, et al, you should be ashamed!

Corporate Crimes and No Punishment

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Since the Wall Street crisis of 2008, the CEOs who headed the firms and banks have not been prosecuted. Since the crisis, the National Commission on the Causes of the Financial and Economic Crisis released its final report and the findings showed no corporate crime found.

The commission used words like reckless, irresponsible, risky, and imprudent to describe the actions of the Wall Street firms and their CEOs but nothing about crime. On why this was the case, Commissioner Brooksley Born said, 

“Our mandate was to refer to the Attorney General or to the state authorities any individual that our investigations showed may have violated U.S. laws – whether civil or criminal. We did make several of those referrals. But we are not going to talk about any of the details of those referrals.”

This is because we live in a country with two systems of government, one for street crimes and one for blue collar crimes. The same occurred for the BP oil spill of 2010. There was also a commission formed to investigate the causes of the spill.

Former Senator Bob Graham who sat on the commision was asked by Russell Mokhiber of Common Dreams whether “there should be increased resources to criminal environmental enforcement to help deter this kind of behavior,” and Senator Graham said,

“When we first met with the president and he gave us our assignment, there was an understanding that our purpose was to develop the factual record upon which this event occurred, that it would be for others, specifically the Department of Justice, to determine if those facts constituted a criminal act, and if so, for what specific purpose.”

“So we did not undertake the issue of attempting to determine criminal liability. I will leave it to the readers of the report as to whether they believe they can find it in our factual program. Nor did we look specifically at the question of the resources necessary to reach a judgment as to whether a crime had been committed.”

As of this writing – in both the BP oil spill and the financial meltdown cases – no high level executives have been held responsible.