When: Monday, August 5th at 7 PM
Where: On the Austin City Hall Plaza
What: Planning for a visual solidarity action.
Action will tentatively take place under the Rotunda at the Texas State Capitol on Friday, August 9th at 1 PM. In solidarity with those who will be attending the 40th annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Chicago on August 7-9, local Austin activists are hoping to build a coalition in opposition to ALEC’s influence over our legislative process in Texas. ALEC is a non-profit organization that promotes a pro-corporate agenda by aiding big business in drafting bills that our legislators then attempt to pass into law. On ALEC task forces, corporate lobbyists and special interests vote as equals with elected representatives on templates to change our laws, behind closed doors with no press or public allowed to see the votes or deliberations. This agenda is orchestrated on both state and national levels, and has been the process by which problematic laws have passed through the legislatures of several state governments. Common Cause, which describes itself as non-partisan, has filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service, objecting to ALEC’s tax status as a non-profit organization and alleging that lobbying accounts for more than 60% of its expenditures. Reporting on the allegations, Bloomberg Businessweek compared ALEC’s work to that of lobbyists, noting that “part of ALEC’s mission is to present industry-backed legislation as grass-roots work,” and that being a non-profit rather than a lobby group allows deductibility of membership dues, and the freedom not to disclose the names of legislators who attend its educational seminars or of executives who give presentations to those legislators. ALEC responded that they do not engage in lobbying. ALEC plays a prominent role in drafting laws on issues that are a primary focus of Coffee Party Austin:
- Opposition to initiatives to roll back the Citizens United v. FEC decision or to fix its worst aspects
- Voter ID and other voter-suppression legislation
- Anti-comprehensive immigration reform bills that include a pathway to citizenship
- And much, much more.
Since ALEC has its fingers in so very many pies, this is a great opportunity to connect the dots between all of the various grassroots organizations in Austin, and to provide space for everyone to work together to oppose corporate influence over our representative democracy. Toward that end, you and your colleagues are invited to a meeting on Monday, August 5th at 7 PM on the Austin City Hall Plaza to plan a visual solidarity action aimed at building the coalition and educating the public about the various ways our issues are all connected. This action will tentatively take place under the Rotunda at the Texas State Capitol on Friday, August 9th at 1 PM. We’ll also discuss plans for the future. Let’s show our legislators that Austin is united in opposition to corporate influence on our state Capitol. If you are unable to make the meeting on the 5th or the action on the 9th, you can email me for more information about future meeting dates and actions.