Iowans might assume the Iowa Republican controlled Legislature’s anti-labor collective bargaining bill resulted from a massive demand from their Iowa constituents. That assumption would be wrong and a bit naïve. The author of this shameful anti-labor bill and various other Republican Legislators have been asked to identify the sponsors and supporters of this bill. They have refused. It’s clear from the visible public opposition and testimony that there is no significant support from their constituents. If Republicans aren’t attempting to solve a problem that their constituents have raised, what is their motivation?
It’s obvious the Republicans have hatched this ugly attack on labor directly from the Koch Brothers-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Republicans not only have no visible Iowa support for their bill, they are taking their orders directly from an organization (ALEC) which is controlled and financed by the Koch Brothers and other corporate sponsors. In addition, the Republican bill to crush Iowa local county supervisors’ efforts to raise the minimum wage is a goal of the ALEC sister group, the American City and County Exchange (ACCE).
It’s not too difficult to connect the dots between ALEC and Republican legislation and Republican law makers. The corporate financed ALEC and ACCE anti-labor agenda has recruited Republican political boosters and sponsors from Iowa to Washington. The current two Iowa state chairs for ALEC are Senator Charles Schneider (R-West Des Moines) and Representative Rob Taylor (R-West Des Moines). Iowa House Republican Speaker Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake) is the National Chair of the ALEC Center to Restore the Balance of Government. Senate Majority Leaders Bill Dix (R-Shell Rock) is a former leader of ALEC and Governor Branstad is a founding member of ALEC.
Following the 2014 election, Democratic Leader Mark Smith warned of the dangers from ALEC influence in Iowa elections.
“Senator Joni Ernst (a former ALEC member), and the state legislators serving in leadership positions in ALEC have received more than $563,000 in direct campaign donations from ALEC corporations,” Smith said. “Most notably, ALEC members spent more than $4.2 million in independent expenditures to elect Senator Ernst in 2014.”
Now that the Republicans control the Iowa Legislature, they are delivering on their loyalty to the extreme-right corporate agenda of ALEC. Republican legislators from across the country attend ALEC-sponsored trips to upscale resorts for their meetings. Some undisclosed number of legislators have their airfare and hotel costs for trips to these posh hotels paid by ALEC. It would certainly be interesting to know how many Iowa Republican legislators have benefited from these sweet deals. This is the Republican version of pay-to-play they falsely accuse Democrats of participating in.
At the national level, the Trump administration is filling its ranks with ALEC friends. The Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch identifies several of these national ALEC operatives.
“Trump Transition leader, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, is an ALEC booster. Not surprisingly the Trump team has been picking many with Koch and ALEC ties to fill key positions in government including Koch Congressman Mike Pompeo, school privatizer and ALEC funder Betsy DeVos and South Carolina Governor and ALEC stalwart Nikki Halley.”
According to a report in the New York Times, “ALEC’s role is to create model bills, drafted by lobbyists and lawmakers, that broadly advance a pro-business, socially conservative agenda…The records offer a glimpse of how special interests effectively turn ALEC’s lawmaker members into stealth lobbyists, providing them with talking points, signaling how they should vote and collaborating on bills affecting hundreds of issues like school vouchers and tobacco taxes.”
Iowa Republicans’ goal to silence labor’s voice by destroying collective bargaining is delivering to their corporate masters exactly the agenda they bought and paid for through their ALEC funders. Iowa teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, health care workers and many public sector employees are the victims of the Republicans’ nasty ALEC generated assaults on their rights. Republicans need to come clean on their decision to work for ALEC rather than their Iowa constituents.
by Rick Smith