The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) related document drop continues today at the Guardian, with the ALEC-associated States Policy Network(SPN) in the sights of the British paper with the publication of State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax.
Bluestem located a $40,000 grant request from the Center of the American Experiments to SPN Searle Tax and Budget project in the PDF posted by the Guardian. We post a screenshot at the top of this entry.
The Center of the American Experiment requested the money to "debunk myths about Minnesota's public sector pensions":
Executive summary: Requests $40,000 to publish a report debunking myths about Minnesota's public sector pensions. CAE will write the report and educate the public as the findings via public events, traditional and social media as well as lobbying the legislature. Success will be evaluated based on media hits, union reactions, whether the paper is picked up by potential allies, and quality of attendees and discussion at events.
It is unclear from the Guardian report or documents whether the CAE received a high score and funding; no report matching this description has been posted on the non-profit's website list of publications.
Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg report in State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax:
Conservative groups across the US are planning a co-ordinated assault against public sector rights and services in the key areas of education, healthcare, income tax, workers' compensation and the environment, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.
The strategy for the state-level organisations, which describe themselves as "free-market thinktanks", includes proposals from six different states for cuts in public sector pensions, campaigns to reduce the wages of government workers and eliminate income taxes, school voucher schemes to counter public education, opposition to Medicaid, and a campaign against regional efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
The policy goals are contained in a set of funding proposals obtained by the Guardian. The proposals were co-ordinated by the State Policy Network, an alliance of groups that act as incubators of conservative strategy at state level.
The documents contain 40 funding proposals from 34 states, providing a blueprint for the conservative agenda in 2014. In partnership with the Texas Observer and the Portland Press Herald in Maine, the Guardian is publishing SPN's summary of all the proposals to give readers and news outlets full and fair access to state-by-state conservative plans that could have significant impact throughout the US, and to allow the public to reach its own conclusions about whether these activities comply with the spirit of non-profit tax-exempt charities.
Bluestem trust that our readers can reach their own conclusions. The Guardian article also states:
Most of the "thinktanks" involved in the proposals gathered by the State Policy Network are constituted as 501(c)(3) charities that are exempt from tax by the Internal Revenue Service. Though the groups are not involved in election campaigns, they are subject to strict restrictions on the amount of lobbying they are allowed to perform. Several of the grant bids contained in the Guardian documents propose the launch of "media campaigns" aimed at changing state laws and policies, or refer to "advancing model legislation" and "candidate briefings", in ways that arguably cross the line into lobbying.
The Center of the American Experiment is included in the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board's list of Associations Which Have Lobbyists Registered With the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.
The association data for CAE is:
Center of the American Experiment
Mitch Pearlstein, President
1024 Plymouth Bldg
12 S 6th St
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Association Number: 3876
Lobbyists Registered Registration
Kimberly R Crockett 2607 1/3/2012 Katherine Kersten 2669 3/9/2011 Peter J Nelson 2346 3/26/2009 Mitchell B Pearlstein 3594 2/19/1997 Yes
This report includes filings through 11:10 pm, Dec. 4, 2013.
One wonders how many lobbyists get their own regular columns on the pages of the Star Tribune, and if Kersten would share the report's findings there. Would reactions to the column form one of the metrics for the report's success when CAE sent evaluations to the SPN and Searle Freedom Trust? The Guardian report continues:
The documents also cast light on the nexus of funding arrangements behind radical rightwing campaigns. The State Policy Network (SPN) has members in each of the 50 states and an annual warchest of $83m drawn from major corporate donors that include the energy tycoons the Koch brothers, the tobacco company Philip Morris, food giant Kraft and the multinational drugs company GlaxoSmithKline.
SPN gathered the grant proposals from the 34 states on 29 July. Ranging in size from requests of $25,000 to $65,000, the plans were submitted for funding to the Searle Freedom Trust, a private foundation that in 2011 donated almost $15m to largely rightwing causes.
It's helpful to know who CAE wants to have funding its lobbying.
There may be an opportunity for progressives in this as well. Bluestem knows of no single source that has reacted to Kersten's newspaper columns with more loyalty than LeftMn/Cucking Stool's Steve Timmer. Perhaps the SPN and CAE can give LeftMN a kickback via Drinking Liberally from that lush conservative gravy train, given that reactions are considered a sign of success. (DL's a non-profit, if we understand these things correctly.)
Back in mid-November, the New Yorker's Jane Mayer noted in Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?:
In every state in the country, there is at least one ostensibly independent “free-market” think tank that is part of something called the State Policy Network— there are sixty-four in all, ranging from the Pelican Institute, in Louisiana, to the Freedom Foundation, in Washington State. According to a new investigative report by the Center for Media and Democracy, a liberal watchdog group, however, the think tanks are less free actors than a coördinated collection of corporate front groups—branch stores, so to speak—funded and steered by cash from undisclosed conservative and corporate players. Although the think tanks have largely operated under the radar, the cumulative enterprise is impressively large, according to the report. In 2011, the network funnelled seventy-nine million dollars into promoting conservative policies at the state level.
Read the Center for Media and Democracy report below, and check out the Stink Tanks site.
Screenshot: The CAE request via the Guardian.
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