Lobbying is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies, on behalf of a group or individual who hires them. For the billionaire oil magnates the Koch brothers, their bought and paid for lobbyist is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) who share the exact same goals as the Kochs; no federal government to hold them accountable for their actions. For too long ALEC has avoided registering as a lobby regardless it uses money from the Kochs and corporations to write model legislation that serves one interest and one interest only; Koch Industries. At long last, one courageous Democrat is standing up to ALEC and called for an investigation into its “aggressive effort” to change state laws regarding the use of federal land ALEC is demanding to be turned over to the Koch brothers by way of several western states.
On Wednesday Representative Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ) sent a letter to Interior Inspector General Mary Kendall calling for an investigation into ALEC’s unregistered lobbying as well as its connection to Nevada thief Cliven Bundy’s claim the federal government cannot own, or manage, public land. As expected, ALEC, like the Koch brothers, is not pleased they are being challenged publicly and dismissed Grijalva’s accusations as “high political theater” and a “frivolous” effort by “those who disagree with ALEC’s ideas to discredit the organization.” Grijalva is the ranking Democrat on the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation, and he made the connection between Cliven Bundy and ALEC’s pressure to force the federal government to cede federal land to Republican western states to give the Koch brothers free rein to rape and pillage in their never-ending pursuit of dirty energy profits.
Grijalva wrote that, “Despite actively pressing state lawmakers on a range of issues, ALEC has failed for decades to register as a lobbying organization in states where it has promoted changes to state laws,” and that ALEC’s work constitutes illegal unregistered lobbying. For its part, ALEC has several pieces of model legislation for Republican states to “demand that Congress extinguish title and government jurisdiction over public lands that are held in trust by the US federal government.” Several Republican-controlled states have already began doing ALEC and the Koch brothers’ bidding such as in 2012 when Utah Republicans passed a land grab measure, the Transfer of Public Lands Act, that was written for the Koch brothers by ALEC.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert, a Mormon like Cliven Bundy and avid ALEC supporter, signed The Transfer of Public Lands Act that mandates that the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management relinquish their domain to the statehouse no later than 2015 or else. According to a lawyer with the non-profit Southern Utah Western Alliance, David Garbett, “Relinquish their domain to the statehouse” means the lands would go from Federal to state stewardship so “the Utah legislature can generate money from the public lands and hold a fire sale to clear inventory,” and sell the land to the highest bidders (Koch Industries) for mining, shale, and oil interests run by Koch Industries. Legal scholars contend ALEC’s laws are unconstitutional, but conservatives have long ago dismissed the Constitution as nothing more than a document for gun fanatics and state rights activists.
The Koch brothers used their belief tank Americans for Prosperity to rally support for Cliven Bundy to incite public opinion against the federal government, delegitimize the Interior Department and Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and challenge its stewardship of public lands the Koch brothers lust to own to drill, frack, exploit, despoil, and pollute with impunity. The Kochs are getting help from Nevada Republican Senator, and Mormon, Dean Heller who on Friday called for an investigation into the Bureau of Land Management for “bullying the patriots” who came armed to defend Cliven Bundy “to find out who is accountable for this.” Rand Paul also weighed in on why the government provoked a showdown with Bundy and said Nevada should control the public land instead of the federal government. Paul attempted to scold Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for labelling Bundy and armed militias as “domestic terrorists.” Paul said he has legislation “in the hopper” that will settle the dispute by giving states control over federal land and the Endangered Species Act. It is highly likely that Rand Paul’s legislation “in the hopper” is one of ALEC’s templates that demands the federal government hand over its land to the states for immediate sale to Koch Industries.
In every one of ALEC’s “land grab” templates, it promotes the legislation as an easy way for states to sell off public land to fill state coffers instead of the real purpose of giving Koch Industries access to pristine land for drilling, mining, and fracking. The other motivation is for states to pass “demands for the federal government” lands and when the federal government does not submit because the ALEC laws are unconstitutional, sue the federal government all the way to the conservatives on the Supreme Court. There is little, if any, doubt how the Koch’s five conservative Justices will rule to give the Koch brothers freedom to impose their supremacy over the people’s land and buy national parks, wildlife refuges, and waterways to drill, frack, and mine them into veritable wastelands. It is a goal they have dreamt of for decades.
Representative Raul Grijalva understands what is at stake if the Koch brothers prevail in their land grab and how integral ALEC is to advancing the Koch brothers’ agenda to buy the American people’s land. He also is well-aware that ALEC is a lobby and not a “social welfare” charity its tax-exempt 501(C)(3) status with the IRS implies. It is time for ALEC to be held to the same standards as every other lobbyist; particularly since they work exclusively for the Koch brothers and actively push Republican states to pass legislation demanding the federal government hand over land for sale to the Koch brothers. It is unclear how closely involved with the Nevada land dispute ALEC is, but there is no question the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity was ramping up opposition to the federal government owning land in Nevada. After learning ALEC is behind several Republican state demands the federal government cede public land to states to sell to the Koch brothers, Representative Grijalva’s call for an investigation into ALEC’s “aggressive effort” to change state laws to comport with Cliven Bundy’s crusade demands answers. Especially his assertion that federal land belongs to the states that is the premise driving every one of the Kochs’ ALEC templates demanding the federal government give the Koch brothers’ free rein to control public land.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.