On ALEC’s Tennessee Ties

In a City Paper article, Steve Hale reviews some of the national controversy swirling around the American Legislative Exchange Council–it’s losing some big corporate sponsors and recently announced a decision to drop past pushing for restrictions on voting and pro-gun bills – as well as ALEC’s Tennessee ties.
According to the Center for Media and Democracy, there are 44 Tennessee state legislators with ties to ALEC. The largely Republican list includes the highest-ranking Republican leadership in both chambers of the legislature, but it also names five Democrats.
On a board of directors made up of 15 legislators — with eight more serving on an executive board — two are Republicans from Tennessee: Rep. Steve McDaniel, who has been an ALEC member since 1989, and Rep. Curry Todd, who serves as the state’s public sector chairman.
Each state has a public and private chairperson. Tennessee’s private sector chair is Patricia Cannon. She was formerly the director of state government affairs for pharmaceutical corporation Allergan Inc. According to her LinkedIn profile, she now holds the same position at Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics.
(Note: A bill to require disclosure of those producing model legislation in Tennessee was killed this year with Todd making the motion to table the measure. Previous post HERE.)
Todd could not be reached for comment and phone calls and emails to an ALEC spokesman were not returned.
After ALEC’s announcement, the group sent out a statement attributed to McDaniel in which he applauded the decision to “refocus [their] efforts.” In an interview with The City Paper, he confirmed his position with the organization as well as Todd’s and Cannon’s. Not surprisingly, his view of ALEC is unfailingly positive.
“Because I believe in the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, personal responsibility and all those things, I think that business ought to be involved with coming up with legislation,” he said. “If you don’t communicate with the people who are creating the jobs and who are being regulated by government, you don’t get a rounded full story of what’s going on. I think ALEC’s a good model to allow that to take place.”
McDaniel said he couldn’t point to a single ALEC bill this session and argued that even when model bills are used in the state, they’re often changed throughout the legislative process to a point where he wouldn’t call them “ALEC bills.”
Along with the aforementioned gun and voter-ID laws, watchdog groups have pointed out parts of the scientific education bill, which Gov. Bill Haslam recently allowed to pass into law without his signature, that mirror sections of an ALEC model bill. Indeed, some language from the model, focused on classroom discussions about climate change, can be found in legislation across the country.

One thought on “On ALEC’s Tennessee Ties

  1. Ilka

    Last week, I got on the phone line (as a democrat) on C-SPAN’s A.M. TV show and dusicssed the basic info (across the air and cable net TV universe) about how ALEC and their pocket right-wing legislators are attending and sponsering Corporate written bills in the State legislatures. The 2 GOP apologists on the show clammed up and looked worried during my statements and upon completion of my brief discourse, the C-SPAN hostess changed the subject, the GOP guys did not respond to me and the show ran out of time and ended. Best Wishes, Mike, a liberal Democrat.

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