I was pretty stunned the that an Atlanta NBC affiliate had produced a report regarding secret meetings of Georgia Legislators and members of ALEC along with known lobbyists in a Savannah hotel. For the most part, Atlanta local television journalism is about shootings, child abductions, weather, reports on bad traffic and, of course, sports. If you haven’t seen the report, here’s a link. The report has a good amount of background material and statement from former members of Georgia ALEC.
“It’s really a corporate bill mill,” said Sen. Nan Orrock, an Atlanta Democrat who has served in both houses of the Georgia General Assembly for years. “They’re cranking out legislation, putting it into the hands of legislators who go back and file it.”
Orrock would know. She was once a member of ALEC.
“The corporations that are there have equal standing with the legislators,” Sen. Orrock said.
“You mean they can vote?” we asked.
“They absolutely can vote, and truth be told, they write the bills,” she answered, referring to the lobbyists.
There really are back rooms where corporate lobbyists have direct access to lawmakers completely out of sight, with no transparency or public filings. They’re also wined and dined after hours at these events with nothing recorded on ethics reports.
We know because we saw one of these back rooms with our own eyes, and were kicked out with the aid of off-duty police officers on orders from ALEC staff.
OMG! Is this really going on in the state that has been ranked as one of the most corrupt in the nation? Say it isn’t so! What was even more shocking is that state legislators have exempted themselves from “Open Records” laws. At the end of the report, Brenda Wood, Atlanta star reporter, act completely shocked at these revelations.
I really don’t think the existence of ALEC is news to these journalists, but, finding this get together in Savannah is news. And this news is being reported at every NBC affiliate in the state.