The conservative group American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase "going local."
According to a report in the Guardian, the Koch brothers-backed group—which has been responsible for many conservative pieces of legislation shaped in the form of ALEC "model bills"—is spring-boarding a new initiative that will focus the group's energy on issues and political campaigns in "villages, towns, cities and counties" across the country.
The subgroup, American City County Exchange (ACCE), will be comprised of a "new nationwide network that will seek to replicate its current influence within state legislatures in city councils and municipalities," bringing the desires of its corporate partners straight to the ears of local policy makers, Ed Pilkington at the Guardian reports.
The new organization will offer corporate America a direct conduit into the policy making process of city councils and municipalities. Lobbyists acting on behalf of major businesses will be able to propose resolutions and argue for new profit-enhancing legislation in front of elected city officials, who will then return to their council chambers and seek to implement the proposals.
In its early publicity material, Alec says the new network will be “America’s only free market forum for village, town, city and county policymakers”. Jon Russell, ACCE’s director, declined to comment on the initiative.
Nick Surgey of the Center for Media and Democracy, which monitors Alec’s activities, told the Guardian:
It just wouldn’t be possible for any corporation to effectively lobby the hundreds of thousands of local elected officials in the US, which until now has left our local mayors and school board members largely free from the grasps of coordinated lobbyists. Alec is now trying to change that.
“Local politics in America is the purest form of democracy,” said Natalia Rudiak, a Democratic city council member in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “There is no buffer between me and the public. So why would I want the involvement of a third party acting on behalf of a few corporate interests?”