Back in the Ides of March 2012, Steve Drazkowski told Minnesota Pulbic Radio's Catharine Richert that he so didn't get his anti-union bill from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), but from the Michigan-based Mackinac Center for Public Policy:
"I am a member of ALEC as I am a member of a good number of organizations that align with the type of legislative outlook that I have and that match the values of the folks in my district," Drazkowski explained.
Nevertheless, Drazkowski said he's never introduced ALEC bills, and said he didn't get language for his "right-to-work" bill from the group. Rather, he said he found it on the Mackinac Center for Public Policy's website, a right-leaning think-tank in Michigan. Legal analyst Patrick Wright, who wrote the model bill in 2007 when Michigan was mulling a similar constitutional amendment, said he tweaked language from an Oklahoma law that effectively did the same thing.
New investigative reporting exposes Draz's threadbare tale
At the time, Bluestem pointed out the connections between the Mackinac Center and ALEC, but barely scratched the ground compared to the material unearthed by the Guardian about the connection between ALEC, state-based "stink tanks" like Mackinac, and the States Policy Network (SPN). Access the series at State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax. Go check it out.
The connections are so strong that P.R. Watch's Rebekah Wilce uses the Mackinac Center's "Right-to-Work" model law that Draz pilfered as the case study to illustrate the network in State Policy Network: The Stealth Network Dramatically Influencing State Law:
A powerful example of how certain SPN affiliates work directly to change state law without reporting any lobbying to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) -- which requires such disclosures of direct and grassroots lobbying by 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations such as the SPN state affiliates -- is that of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy's efforts to make Michigan a "right to work" state.
On December 11, 2012, governor Rick Snyder signed into law a "right to work" bill, which undermines collective bargaining by allowing workers to freeload off the benefits of union negotiations without paying the costs of union representation. The Mackinac Center and its funders, such as the billionaire DeVos family of the Amway fortune, had been coordinating behind close doors to effect this change "for 25 years," as a Mackinac blog post boasted after the bill passed, going on to call the passage of the bill "a classic example of the Overton Window of what's politically possible moving in the proper direction. Mackinac Center experts have been pushing that window toward right-to-work since 1990."
In fact, SPN singled out the Mackinac Center's president, Joseph Lehman, for its highest award at its 2013 annual meeting, the "Roe Award" named after SPN founder and building materials supply magnate Thomas Roe. Why? For "the passage of a right-to-work law in Michigan," another blog post boasted. Betsy DeVos presented the award to Lehman, and Dick DeVos was recognized as well.
Mackinac created or helped create two new online publications -- called Michigan Capital Confidential and Watchdog Wire Michigan (a project of the Franklin Center, of which Mackinac is a "partner") -- to communicate its claims, gain public support, and put pressure on the governor to adopt its "right to work" changes to state law. . . .
"Right to work" is an ALEC "model" bill, approved by its board before 1995. The Mackinac Center is deeply involved with ALEC, sitting on at least five task forces, including as the "Private Sector Chair" of the "Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee" of ALEC's Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force as of October 2013. The relationship goes both ways, with Mackinac pushing ALEC legislation in Michigan and ALEC helping Mackinac push its agenda to other states. . . .
Check out the Stink Tanks site here.
Linkage: ALEC spawned State Policy Network
DeSmog Blog's Steve Horn has more at Huffington Post in Stink Tanks: Historical Records Reveal State Policy Network Was Created by ALEC:
A 1991 report tracked down by DeSmogBlog from the University of California-San Francisco's Legacy Tobacco Documents reveals that the State Policy Network (SPN) was created by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), raising additional questions over both organizations' Internal Revenue Service (IRS) non-profit tax status.
Titled "Special Report: Burgeoning Conservative Think Tanks" and published by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, the report states that State Policy Network's precursor — the Madison Group — was "launched by the American Legislative Exchange Council and housed in the Chicago-based Heartland Institute."
So the Mackinac Center is an ALEC member, and one of the stars of the State Policy Network, which ALEC created, and it pimps a model bill that belongs to ALEC, and ALEC member Steve Drazkowski threw it in the hopper in the Minnesota House. Totally nothing connected there.
In light light of the recent investigations by the Guardian, DeSmog Blog and ProgressNow/Center for Media and Democracy, Drazkowski's explanation looks even more threadbare than it did in Spring 2012.
Image: Steve Drazkowski.
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