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Ted Cruz Used Texas to Create ALEC’s Anti-Obamacare Legislation

Photo: Creative Commons, License: N/A

Creative Commons

U.S. Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX)

The federal government has come to a screeching halt because of it. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) spent 21 hours faux-filibustering against it. Right-wing personalities have even likened it to slavery. The GOP’s fight to destroy ‘Obamacare’ has reached new, headline-grabbing heights.

While eyes are on the action at the federal level, some conservative Republican governors have used every tool in their arsenal to thwart the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on a state level—from rejecting the Medicaid expansion to signing ‘Health Care Compacts’ into law. 

And it looks like they’ve gotten a little help from their corporate friends.

Behind some of the statewide anti-health care strategy you’ll find The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a shadowy network of corporate lobbyists, representing companies including Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, AT&T and Pfizer, that draft model legislation increasingly used by state lawmakers, particularly those of the conservative Republican persuasion. In return, legislators get invited to swanky parties (read: fundraising opportunities), all-expenses paid trips and even free childcare. More than 1,000 of these corporate-backed bills are introduced into statehouses by legislators each year, with one in every five of them enacted into law, according to the Center for Media and Democracy.

The doors to ALEC busted wide open when in 2011 a whistleblower released a stunning trove of documents exposing the inner working of the secretive organization to CMD, which made it available for public viewing. While recommending model legislation may be part and parcel of the think tank process, what sets ALEC apart is the pure corporate influence—98 percent of its revenue comes from corporations—that has a direct role in changing, enabling and killing legislation alongside lawmakers. Oftentimes, legislators come back to the statehouse without publicizing ALEC’s involvement in the bills they sponsor.

“It revealed the breath and depth of corporate influence over law and policy,” Brendan Fischer, CMD’s general counsel told the Current, referring to the 2011 evidence. “ALEC exists for the benefit of the corporations that are footing the bill and the evidence indicates they’re getting a lot in return.”

If the acronym sounds familiar, but you can’t quit pin where you last heard it, chances are it was during the George Zimmerman trial. The ‘corporate bill mill’ made national headlines and garnered scrutiny when a piece of their model legislation was tied to the infamous ‘Stand Your Ground Law’ that played into the acquittal of Zimmerman in the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. The rise of ALEC’s profile in such pejorative terms likely led to the exodus of several legislative members in 2012.

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