News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Hennes Paynter Communications

Hospice of the Western Reserve

Metro RTA


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Ohio




Probing ALEC relationship with Ohio lawmakers
Progressive groups says the group has cozied up too closely with the GOP legislators and gotten around lobbying rules
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE BUREAU CHIEF KAREN KASLER
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter
Karen Kasler
 
About half of Ohio's lawmakers are believed to be members of ALEC.
Download (WKSU Only)

A progressive group says it’s concerned about the influence held in Ohio by a national organization of state lawmakers, lobbyists and corporate officials. But as Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports, one lawmaker who’s a member of the organization says there’s nothing to see here.

KASLER: ALEC's influence in Ohio

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:01)


KASLER: ALEC's influence in Ohio short version

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (1:08)


Imagine a conference in a big city at an upscale hotel, where a nominal dues payment to the host group covers things such as high-end meals, tickets to major league sporting events, cigars, even babysitting for your kids. And imagine that the same host group gets your work schedule to revolve around its events.

It’s just those scenarios that the leftleaning group Progress Ohio claims were created by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. ALEC is a non-profit organization of mostly conservative lawmakers, lobbyists and big corporations. It writes proposed legislation that ALEC says advances free market ideals, limited government, and federalism.

Half of Ohio’s legislators are thought to be in ALEC, which does not put out lists of members.

Unethical, perhaps illegal?
Brian Rothenberg with Progress Ohio says ALEC members get special treatment – and he thinks it’s unethical, and wants the state’s inspector general to investigate whether it’s illegal. 

“The way this is happening – the sinful way this is actually happening – is that they are getting around the ethics laws in order to allow corporations to have influence, to wine and dine, to do everything that we tried to get rid of in the ethics laws in the early 1990s.”

Single party, mixed duties
Progress Ohio notes that there are no Ohio Democrats in ALEC. Rothenberg says e-mails show that ALEC was able to rearrange lawmakers’ session dates around its conferences, and that a staffer in state Rep. John Adams’ office worked out free meals and activities for members at ALEC events that included lobbyists.

And Progress Ohio maintains that time together translated into influence, and then legislation;  the group says last year, 33 bills were introduced containing elements from 64 different ALEC model proposals, and many passed. And Progress Ohio says it can show that ALEC advised at least one lawmaker to leave out ALEC’s involvement in his legislation.

Breathless hype
But one of ALEC’s strongest defenders says there’s nothing new here. 
“This is all a bunch of breathless hype over nothing. They’re becoming increasingly desperate.”

Sen. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati is on ALEC’s national board. He says there are no legal issues here. And he insists that lobbyists are permitted to buy dinner and drinks for lawmakers at conferences because these events are exempt from the law that bans elected officials from accepting gifts valued at more than $75.

Seitz says same kind of things happen at events sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Council of State Governments. 

“You know, it’s been something that’s gone for over 30 years. It affects all of the organizations that we belong to – NCSL, CSG and ALEC. The fact of the matter is that it’s not all a game of roses. We are in meetings for almost all of the day, and this is our opportunity to interface with legislators from other states.”

Rothenberg says those other groups are bipartisan, while ALEC is overwhelmingly Republican. And he says NCSL’s top committee doesn’t allow lobbyists, while there are no restrictions on lobbyists at ALEC.

Seitz says two Ohio Democrats that have stopped in on ALEC events, and says there are some Democratic members of ALEC in other states, so it is not exclusively Republican.

Cut it all out
Rothenberg says maybe a bigger gesture needs to be made. 

“Fine, end the loophole for NCSL, too. Everybody should be responsible for being limited to $75 in meals.”

Seitz is challenging Progress Ohio to single out what it feels are the ALEC-inspired bills. And he notes that critics had blamed ALEC for what became Senate Bill 5 – the state law that would have ended most collective bargaining for Ohio’s public employees.

 Seitz repeatedly said ALEC did not write that law, and he was among the few Republicans who voted against it.

 


Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook





Stories with Recent Comments

Three exonerated of murder convictions from 18 years ago
Thanks heavens that none of them have been condemned to death. This alons should convince the USA to join the civilized world by abolishing the death penalty. E...

Kombucha: a sweet business brewed with fermented tea
Stevia is not an artificial sweetener. It is a plant. I have one growing in my sunroom. The leaves are dried and added to teas. It's harvested commercially and...

Bringing back ballet in Cleveland
I do think Ballet in Cleveland is doing good things, but the fact that director says "When we have flourishing companies like the New York City Ballet and the A...

Report confirms some Vietnam veterans may have been exposed to Agent Orange
was in nam 1969 exposed va stated lost medical records was in lawsuit from 197? till settled 0 $ 2010 ? said all nam vets will get back disability till 198? jus...

Mentorship grant program redefines "faith-based" provision
Can't anyone have values, beliefs, and morals anymore? How is it anymore unconstitutional for a school partner with a "faith-based" organization than any other ...

Exploradio: The challenge of finding a healthy balance with technology
Thank you, Jeff, for another well done Exploradio. I always learn something interesting about what is happening in NE Ohio.

Northeast Ohio's transgender community rallies around restroom issue
A good first step would be for Cleveland to require restaurants to have a public restroom. Cleveland is the only city I've ever been in where restaurants somet...

Vapor shops say tobacco tax hikes could hit them hard
Maybe you should be DOING a study, since every time you've tried to villianize them all that's happened was the opposite. I'm not a fan of alcohol that's flavor...

New law gives access to birth records to Ohio adoptees
Can siblings also look for their missing brother or sister? And how do we go about it?

Ida McKinley's tiara comes home, with the help of "Pawn Stars"
I donated to the fund to keep the tiara at the museum where I believe it belongs. I took my 16 year old granddaughter to the showing I dont think it will be som...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University