Meet the ALEC Lobbyists Behind Mitt Romney and Find Out What They Want From You

Last updated on March 23rd, 2012 at 02:06 am

You remember the dark days of Dick Cheney’s secretive Enron meetings, right? We all know what that got us. Well, they’re coming for you again only this time, they’re wearing a Mitt mask.

First Street Research Group revealed the biggest lobbyists and lobbying groups behind Mitt Romney. If you use Verizon, AT&T, CitiGroup or Charles Schwab you are helping to fund the Romney campaign and they stand to gain much by your “investment” in their political dealings. You know, so they can get legislation to jack up the fees on you or reduce oversight, because we all know that financial institutions and cell carriers don’t need oversight.

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First Street Research reports:

• Several corporations will be well-connected with a Romney victory: (Scorecard)
• Microsoft leads the pack, having Romney campaign advisors, bundlers, and contributors who represented the company.
• Two of the top finance companies, Charles Schwab and CitiGroup, have lobbyists who are bundlers and contributors.
• The two biggest telephone companies, Verizon and AT&T, also stand to gain from a President Romney.

You may have suspected that big corporate money was behind Romney, since he’s not getting the Republican base vote but the establishment loves him. You were right and now you have the proof:

• Ten current and former lobbyists are directly affiliated with the Mitt Romney campaign as advisors and staffers. These lobbyists have represented 256 clients who paid their firms over $88.0 million since 2004. (Lobbyist Campaign Officials)
• 16 registered lobbyists are acting as bundlers to Romney’s campaign. These lobbyists have represented 324 organizations and a combined $196.9 million in lobbying expenses since 2008. (Lobbyist Bundlers)
• In 2011 bundler’s and advisors to the Romney campaign represented 174 organizations and $54.7 million in lobbying expenses.
• 332 lobbyists have donated to a current GOP candidate in 2011. Romney dominates the field, receiving 304 contributions

Santorum trails Romney by a large margin, only 21 contributions from current lobbyists. Many of the current lobbyists who used to work for his campaign haven’t donated to him. Lobbyists spend their money where they think it will buy them access. They obviously don’t think Santorum is going to be in a position to help them or even listen to them from a position of power.

In these times, lobbyists are a fact of life. Just because a lobbyist gives money to a candidate, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they will get what they want. They’re buying access, which is like buying a first date (going on the date doesn’t make them a whore, but if they sell their soul as elected officials by allowing corporate money to dictate policy that is bad for the people, they are most definitely a corporate prostitute.)

Given that Romney’s economic platform is a deep, obsequious curtsy to corporations and a big knife in the back to the people, we have every reason to think that under a Romney President, the financial corporations in particular would get exactly what they want. And we should be asking ourselves, what exactly do the phone carriers want from a Republican president? Given their propensity for abuse of customers, our alarm bells should be a ringin’.

Oh. Here is what “they” (and by “they”, I mean ALEC) want:

ALEC’s telecom members have several agendas on the state level, mostly repealing:
• Local franchising and oversight of cable television service;
• Statewide oversight of the quality of service and measuring the reliability of phone and cable operators;
• Consumer protection laws, including those that offer customers a third party contact for unresolved service problems;
• Universal service requirements that insist all customers in a geographic region be permitted to receive service;
• Funding support for public, educational, and government access television channels;
• Rules governing the eventual termination of essential service for non/past due payments;
• Local zoning requirements and licensing of outside work.

Oh, relax, it’s not just reduction in oversight and deregulation that they want. They also want big government protection for their profits and to strip local authority away and give it to the state government. We’ve already seen some of these bills on the table in states:

Cable and phone company-written bills that restrict or ban public broadband networks are introduced to lawmakers through ALEC-sponsored events. In several cases, model legislation that was developed by cable and phone companies was used as a template for nearly-identical bills introduced in several states without disclosing who actually authored the original bill.

And yes, ALEC doesn’t “lobby”. They don’t need to. Their corporate members do it for them and AT&T is one of their proud pushers. In fact, AT&T was the 2011 co-chair of ALEC, while Verizon lurked in the ALEC underbelly. Oh, they’re coming for your wallet. Make no mistake about it. They want to nickle and dime you and give you nowhere to turn.

If they get what they want, we get another deregulation spree that allows further theft from the people in the form of corruption and greed run amuck, circa the market crash of 2008.

It seems sometimes that as consumers, we are trapped in an endless tunnel of corporate logos. What cell carrier can we use that won’t take our 179 dollars a month and feed it to the hand that wants to bite us? Do we pay the 400 dollars to get out of a contract with a company that is using our money so they can jack that price up to $600 with no accountability for bad service under Romney?

If we live in a state where the utility companies were given a Vice Presidential license to screw the consumers (I lived through the rolling black outs in California during the Enron debacle), what are our choices? When your cell service starts to go out for hours but they won’t give you a break on the bill let alone let you out of a contract they have failed to live up to, where will you turn?

Just in case you missed it or need a refresher of what a Republican administration does in the name of “small government’, the esteemed John Nichols of The Nation reported on the Enron scandal in 2002 (before we knew what we now know):

Vice President Dick Cheney cleared his calendar for an April 17 private meeting with Lay regarding what aides described as “energy policy matters” and “the energy crisis in California.” At the meeting Lay handed Cheney a memo that read in part: “The administration should reject any attempt to re-regulate wholesale power markets by adopting price caps….”

The day after he met with Lay, Cheney gave a rare phone interview to the Los Angeles Times that had one recurrent theme: Price caps were out of the question. Dismissing the strategy as “short-term political relief for the politicians,” Cheney bluntly declared, “I don’t see that as a possibility.”

… The Houston-based firm enjoyed a level of vice-presidential attention during the Bush/Cheney team’s first year that included explicit support of Enron’s choices for key regulatory positions, intervention in the affairs of a foreign government and the structuring of an energy policy task force to allow Enron and other corporations to effectively set policy.

That’s sort of cute, eh? Enron was ALEC before ALEC was official.

Read the entire article if you want to see what it looks like from the outside when lobbyists have the kind of access Republicans are infamous for granting. Enron was allowed to issue a wish list for public policy and the Republican Policy Fairy delivered, replete with admonishing talking points about not playing political games. Mind you, in order to deliver said wish list, Bush Cheney had to let Enron steal from the people. But hey, we’re just here to make them rich. Right? That’s the Republican “free market.” Free for them; very, very expensive for me and you.

The fact that Romney’s false moderate conservative platform is even being taken seriously is surreal; Romney is no fiscal conservative; he is a borrow and spend plutocrat who has no more respect for the integrity of the free market than Bush did. Romney wants to give tax breaks and subsidies to certain corporations, which any honest conservative will tell you is a distortion of their belief in the free market, ultimately resulting in economic chaos.

Romney is nothing but a heartless corporate logo and he’s got the lobbyists behind him and the corresponding economic platform to prove it.

This isn’t about ideology. It’s not even about lobbyists. It’s about what those lobbyists are able to buy from a particular candidate and whose money they are using to get it. They are using our money in order to ruin us.

The American people need to put an end to this abusive relationship. Corporations already have the “free speech” of the people and at the same time, the people are being silenced violently all over this country. Sometimes I think it’s already too late.

But I’m still allowed to change my carrier and my investment bank, though apparently I must mind what I say when I do it and I might want to think twice before using public land to speak out against them, unless I want to shell out 355.00 dollars to pay for a lesson in “free speech” courtesy of the Los Angeles city attorney’s office.

In total, it’s going to cost me in the thousands to break up with some of these corporate abusers.

My freedom is definitely worth it.

Image: WAWG blog

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