Inside ALEC: Interview w/ an Insider (Highlights)

I interview Ohio Representative John Adams (R-85), who is also the State Chair of the Year for the American Legislative Exchange Council, about his experience with the controversial organization.  We cover how he is compensated for his time and efforts, the model legislation he is most excited about introducing, and the progressive groups that he thinks are targeting ALEC.  The interview took place on August 15, 2013.  You can view the uncut video here.


The Republican Plan to Fix Elections for the Next 30 Years

Lew Uhler Small2

The founder and president of the National Tax Limitation Committee, Lew Uhler tells me he has a plan to fix the presidential elections for the next 30 years. At first glance, he appears to be just another old, white Republican ranting about “how we take this country back.” However, given the setting—the 40th anniversary annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council—and his credentials—he served in both the gubernatorial and presidential Reagan administrations; authored a book with a foreword from famed neoliberal economist Milton Friedman; and sits on the board of directors for the American Conservative Union—I’m inclined to believe that his is a realistic threat.

While the GOP ponders how it can pander to Hispanics, women, and the gay community in the face of a growing membership deficit, Uhler says the solution lies in changing the way electoral votes are allocated in key states. His strategy? To push legislation awarding electoral votes by the winner in congressional districts in the six Republican-controlled state legislatures that are currently winner-take-all states. Those states are Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. In four winner-take-all state legislatures held by Democrats—California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington—Uhler would pursue ballot initiatives rather than legislation.

According to Lew Uhler, if those changes had been made before 2012, Mitt Romney would be president today, and further, that the GOP can “screw up” on immigration and women’s issues so long as reallocation is in place. Uhler has been talking about this plan as far back as 2007. The difference between now and then is the rise of the Tea Party and the historic flip of state legislatures in the 2010 midterm elections, that garnered 675 state legislative seats and six governorships for the GOP. Twelve states came under its full command, bringing the total of states with a Republican governor and both legislative chambers to 21. Today that number is 24.

When you take those numbers into account, along with ALEC’s string of successes with model legislation like Stand Your Ground, Right to Work, and Voter I.D., Uhler’s plan is not so far-fetched. As a member of ALEC’s Tax & Fiscal Policy Task Force, he has a powerful platform to persuade state legislator members, who are undoubtedly eager to cement Republican rule. Uhler says that Michigan governor Rick Snyder doesn’t want to make reallocation an issue during his re-election campaign, but that they will launch a bill after his win, in the lame-duck session. He also claims that Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli is already onboard. In an apparent attempt to inspire me to action, Uhler closed with promising that his plan would stop Obama’s transition of this country to a Western European Socialist state. And so, Lew Uhler is, after all, an old, white Republican… with a plan.