Blood-sucking Vampires aren’t afraid of much. Silver stakes, for sure. They apparently don’t like garlic. But nothing says “fear” to a Vampire like sunshine. “Sunshine,” said Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis back in the day (1913 to be exact), “is the best disinfectant.” So we couldn’t be more pleased to see a heavy dose of sunny disinfectant shining down these days on the demon known as the Americans Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the corporate, right-wing group that sponsors a terrible array of state bills, which we’ve discussed many times (most recently here).
Now, as much as we might hope this new sun exposure would kill-off the dangerous ALEC fiend, we’ll take whaever maiming we can get. And there’s been a lot, lately. (For example, check out the lastest former ALEC corporations and legislators who’ve escaped this evil demon.)
Yesterday, Common Cause filed a complaint with the IRS, asking the agency to audit and penalize ALEC because of how connected to legislative lobbying this outfit actually is (which they deny). Nothing wrong with lobbying, of course. But if you are a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt “charitable” organization, lobbying clearly can’t be your main mission.
As part of that complaint is Exhibit 5, which is something we’ve try to find out for a long time. It's spreadsheet tracking all of ALEC’s “tort reform” legislation. We don’t know how Common Cause got this document, but all we can say is, “Thank you, sunshine!” It’s definitely worth a peruse.
One of those bills is the topic of a great piece yesterday by Evan Wyloge in the Arizona Capitol Times, about legislation that would protect drug companies from punitive damages, even in cases of egregious wrongdoing:
The legislation would shield manufacturers from punitive damage claims — the most aggressive legal recourse allowed against manufacturers — unless very specific negligence can be demonstrated.
The changes are so dramatic that a former Phoenix police officer who was nearly killed when his patrol car exploded in 2001 after it was rear-ended says the proposed law would have made it impossible to sue Ford for punitive damages — even though the car manufacturer ignored information that the fuel tanks in its police cars were prone to exploding.…
The language in the bill is very similar to a 2007 resolution advanced by the American Legislative Exchange Council. The Arizona Chamber is a member of ALEC, a conservative public policy group that is made up of corporations and legislators from across the country.
Also today is a column by Joanne Doroshow, Executive Director of the Center for Justice & Democracy, called “ALEC laws still a threat to N.J.” Here’s an excerpt:
Now, ALEC bills are making their way into New Jersey, with the support of the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance, an organization that has adopted several ALEC bills as its priorities. Not surprisingly, NJLRA and ALEC share members, including pharmaceutical giants such as Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Bayer.
There are similarities in the bills they promote, as well. One top NJLRA priority is an ALEC bill to amend New Jersey’s appeal bond process, making it easier for corporate wrongdoers to appeal verdicts against them without making sure that their victims will ever be paid. NJLRA also is promoting an ALEC proposal that would ensure that corporate miscreants can more easily dismiss class-action lawsuits against them. Another priority of both NJLRA and ALEC is making it more difficult for consumers to enforce consumer protection laws.
Let the sunshine in! And let's hope the weather holds. Or else, we should all move to Phoenix (provided that bill doesn’t pass)!