The Lewis Powell Memo – Corporate Blueprint to Dominate Democracy

I‘d like to give a huge “Thank You” shout out to The Secular Jurist for pointing me in the direction of the Powell Memo in a comment yesterday. For all of the time I’ve put into try to dig through the corporate influence and misdeeds of The American Legislative Exchange Council, I had somehow not made the connection between ALEC and Powell. This is just another piece of a puzzle I’ve been trying to unravel for years just for my own personal amusement/interests and to gain a better understanding of how it is our country (and the world) came to be in such a “mess”…

GreenPeace (August 23, 2011) – “On August 23, 1971, Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr., an attorney from Richmond, Virginia, drafted a confidential memorandum for the U.S. Chamber of Commercethat describes a strategy for the corporate takeover of the dominant public institutions of American society.

Powell and his friend Eugene Sydnor, then-chairman of the Chamber’s education committee, believed the Chamber had to transform itself from a passive business group into a powerful political force capable of taking on what Powell described as a major ongoing “attack on the American free enterprise system.”

An astute observer of the business community and broader social trends, Powell was a former president of the American Bar Association and a board member of tobacco giant Philip Morris and other companies. In his memo, he detailed a series of possible “avenues of action” that the Chamber and the broader business community should take in response to fierce criticism in the media, campus-based protests, and new consumer and environmental laws.

Environmental awareness and pressure on corporate polluters had reached a new peak in the months before the Powell memo was written. In January 1970, President Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act, which formally recognized the environment’s importance by establishing the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Massive Earth Day events took place all over the country just a few months later and by early July, Nixon signed an executive order that created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Tough new amendments to the Clean Air Act followed in December 1970 and by April 1971, EPA announced the first air pollution standards. Lead paint was soon regulated for the first time, and the awareness of the impacts of pesticides and other pollutants– made famous by Rachel Carson in her 1962 book, Silent Spring – was recognized when DDT was finally banned for agricultural use in 1972.

The overall tone of Powell’s memo reflected a widespread sense of crisis among elites in the business and political communities. “No thoughtful person can question that the American economic system is under broad attack,” he suggested, adding that the attacks were not coming just from a few “extremists of the left,” but also – and most alarmingly — from “perfectly respectable elements of society,” including leading intellectuals, the media, and politicians.

To meet the challenge, business leaders would have to first recognize the severity of the crisis, and begin marshalling their resources to influence prominent institutions of public opinion and political power — especially the universities, the media and the courts. The memo emphasized the importance of education, values, and movement-building. Corporations had to reshape the political debate, organize speakers’ bureaus and keep television programs under “constant surveillance.” Most importantly, business needed to recognize that political power must be “assiduously cultivated; and that when necessary, it must be used aggressively and with determination – without embarrassment and without the reluctance which has been so characteristic of American business.”

Powell emphasized the importance of strengthening institutions like the U.S. Chamber — which represented the interests of the broader business community, and therefore key to creating a united front. While individual corporations could represent their interests more aggressively, the responsibility of conducting an enduring campaign would necessarily fall upon the Chamber and allied foundations. Since business executives had “little stomach for hard-nosed contest with their critics” and “little skill in effective intellectual and philosophical debate,” it was important to create new think tanks, legal foundations, front groups and other organizations. The ability to align such groups into a united front would only come about through “careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and united organizations.”

Before he was appointed by Richard Nixon to the U.S. Supreme Court Powell circulated his call for a business crusade not only to the Chamber, but also to executives at corporations including General Motors. The memo did not become available to the public until after Powell’s confirmation to the Court, when it was leaked to Jack Anderson, a syndicated columnist and investigative reporter, who cited it as reason to doubt Powell’s legal objectivity.

Anderson’s report spread business leaders’ interest in the memo even further. Soon thereafter, the Chamber’s board of directors formed a task force of 40 business executives(from U.S. Steel, GE, ABC, GM, CBS, 3M, Phillips Petroleum, Amway and numerous other companies) to review Powell’s memo and draft a list of specific proposals to “improve understanding of business and the private enterprise system,” which the board adopted on November 8, 1973.

Historian Kim Phillips-Fein describes how “many who read the memo cited it afterward as inspiration for their political choices.” In fact, Powell’s Memo is widely credited for having helped catalyze a new business activist movement, with numerous conservative family and corporate foundations (e.g. Coors, Olin, Bradley, Scaife, Koch and others) thereafter creating and sustaining powerful new voices to help push the corporate agenda, including the Business Roundtable (1972), the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC – 1973), Heritage Foundation (1973), the Cato Institute (1977), the Manhattan Institute (1978), Citizens for a Sound Economy (1984 – now Americans for Prosperity), Accuracy in Academe (1985), and others.

Because it signaled the beginning of a major shift in American business culture, political power and law, the Powell memo essentially marks the beginning of the business community’s multi-decade collective takeover of the most important institutions of public opinion and democratic decision-making. At the very least, it is the first place where this broad agenda was compiled in one document.

That shift continues today, with corporate influence over policy and politics reaching unprecedented new dimensions. The decades-long drive to rethink legal doctrines and ultimately strike down the edifice of campaign finance laws – breaking radical new ground with the Roberts Court’s decision in Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission – continues apace.

Although many new voices have emerged in the 40 years since it circulated Powell’s memo, the U.S. Chamber has expanded its leadership position within the corporate power movement, leading dozens of judicial, legislative and regulatory fights each year. Measured in terms of money spent, the Chamber is by far the most powerful lobby in Washington, DC, spending $770.6 million since 1998, over three times the amount spent by General Electric, the second-largest spender. At the same time, the Chamber has reinforced its lobbying power by becoming one of the largest conduits of election-related “independent expenditures,”spending over $32.8 million on Federal elections in 2010. The Chamber sponsors the Institute for Legal Reform, which has spearheaded the campaign for tort “reform,” making it more difficult for average people who have been injured, assaulted, or harmed to sue the responsible corporations. Along with well over a dozen legal foundations, the Chamber has also helped shape the powerful “business civil liberties” movement that has been a driving force behind the Citizens United decision and other judicial actions that have handcuffed regulators and prevented Congress from putting common-sense checks on corporate power.” Read More On GreenPeace

ALEC Pushes “Ag-Gag” Laws To Silence Whistleblowers

Anti-whistleblower bills supported by the animal agriculture lobby would criminalize essentially anyone who tries to expose the conditions at factory farms and slaughter plants. The goal: to keep Americans in the dark about the rampant animal abuse in the world of factory farming.

Excerpts, The Raw Story “Bills being shopped in six states by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) would make it a crime to film animal abuse at factory farms or lie on job applications, in hopes of shutting down animal rights activists who infiltrate slaughterhouses to expose ghastly conditions.

“The meat industry’s response to these exposes has not been to try to prevent these abuses from taking place, but rather it’s really just been to prevent Americans from finding out about those abuses in the first place,” Paul Shapiro, spokesperson for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), told Raw Story. “What they’re doing is trying to pass laws throughout the country that don’t just shoot the messenger, they seek to imprison the messenger.”

The proposals mandate that evidence of animal abuse be turned over to law enforcement within 48 hours, or face a financial penalty. Several of the bills bills also make it a crime to lie on slaughterhouse job applications, which activists commonly do in order to get footage like the content of a video published by the HSUS, embedded below…”

“Those bills appear to be spreading with the help of ALEC, a conservative business advocacy group that encourages lawmakers to “exchange” legislative ideas from state to state…”

“…The bills to block animal rights activists are in California, Nebraska, Tennessee, Indiana, Arkansas and Pennsylvania, according to The Associated Press. Three other states — New Mexico, Wyoming and New Hampshire — have already rejected similar bills this year, and HSUS told Raw Story that three more — Minnesota, Vermont and North Carolina — are yet expected to take them up.

Several states already have laws similar to what ALEC is pushing, and virtually all of them were triggered in response to shocking videos produced by animal rights activists, who some critics have taken to calling propagandists.

In one such recent case, undercover video from an Iowa factory farm produced by a group called Mercy for Animals caused the Iowa legislature to support a so-called “Ag-Gag” law that makes it a crime to lie in order to infiltrate a farm’s staff. That act is now a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of $1,500. Lawmakers in Utah passed a similar law in 2012 that bans unauthorized photography in farms. Missouri also has an older law that accomplishes effectively the same thing…” Full Story The Raw Story

Not familiar with ALEC, yet? Here’s a 5 minute clip that explains who and what they are…

Proposed Law In Texas – Vaccination Without Parental Consent


After I caught the story below that talks about Texas S.B. 63 which allows for vaccines without parental consent, I started digging around and doing a bit more research into this bill & its sponsor. It took me less than half an hour to track down Jane Nelson’s membership in The American Legislative Exchange Council.  Not only is she a supporting member; she is an active member that sits on ALEC’s…*drum roll please* Health & Human Services Taskforce.

Wonders never cease, right? 

Even more shocking is the fact that some of Nelson’s largest campaign contributors are pharmaceutical and medical industries…*Gasp* whoever could imagine a politrickster pushing a corporate agenda, eh? 

(NaturalNews) “If you thought the so-called “great state” of Texas was a bastion of freedom, liberty, and minimal government intrusion, think again. Efforts are currently in the works in the form of two new Senate bills to seize parental sovereignty rights and allow minors living in the Lone Star State to consent to vaccinations.

Senate Bill 63, entitled “Relating to consent to the immunization of certain children,” would allow minors to consent to vaccinations without their parents’ permission, violating existing Texas statutes that prohibit such action. Sponsored by Senator Jane Nelson, a Republican from Texas’ District 12 near Dallas, S.B. 63 is a direct affront to the rights of parents to govern the vaccination choices of their children.”

Full Story On Natural News

Senate Research Center


“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends “cocooning” as a strategy to protect babies from vaccine-preventable diseases in the first months of life.  This entails vaccinating those in close contact with the infant, especially their parents and caregivers.  Unborn children receive disease immunity through vaccines obtained by their mothers during pregnancy.

Currently, minor parents may consent to medical treatment, including immunizations, for their children.  However, they may not consent to their own immunizations.  Pregnant minors are also not currently allowed to consent to their own immunizations.  S.B. 63 is intended to better protect unborn children and infants from vaccine-preventable diseases by allowing their parents to more easily access immunizations.  Specifically, this bill allows pregnant minors or minor parents with custody of children to consent to their own immunizations.

As proposed, S.B. 63 amends current law relating to consent to the immunization of certain children.


This bill does not expressly grant any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, institution, or agency.


SECTION 1.  Amends Subchapter B, Chapter 32, Family Code, by adding Section 32.1011, as follows:

Sec. 32.1011.  CONSENT TO IMMUNIZATION BY CHILD.  (a)  Authorizes a child, notwithstanding Section 32.003 (Consent to Treatment by Child) or 32.101 (Who May Consent to Immunization of Child), to consent to the child’s own immunization if the child is pregnant or is the parent of a child and has actual custody of that child.

(b)  Requires that consent to immunization under this section meet the requirements of Section 32.002(a) (relating to the requirement that consent to medical treatment be in writing, among other requirements).

(c)  Provides that consent by a child to immunization under this section is not subject to disaffirmance because of minority.

(d)  Authorizes a health care provider or facility to rely on the written statement of the child containing the grounds on which the child has capacity to consent to the child’s immunization under this section.

(e)  Provides that to the extent of any conflict between this section and Section 32.003, this section controls.

SECTION 2.  Effective date: upon passage or September 1, 2013.

The bill’s sponsor, Jane Nelson,  raised a total of $677,298 in campaign contributions in 2010.

Below are Nelson’s top 5 campaign contributors in the 2010 election:

Contributor 2010 total
Perry, Bob J. $22,500
Texas Medical Association $20,000
Texans for Lawsuit Reform $10,000
Texas Pharmacy Association $10,000
Texas Association of Realtors $10,000


ALEC Teams With Foreign Interests To Promote Bills In US Congress

As full members, the foreign representatives have full rights of voting and discussion on ALEC’s proposed legislative bills and resolutions.

ALEC CROW - 21st Century Disenfranchisement

ALEC CROW – 21st Century Disenfranchisement (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

From PolicyMic – The Voters Legislative Transparency Project, Inc. announced this week they had uncovered documents demonstrating that 17 representatives of seven foreign nations have been secretly involved in creating legislative bills and policies meant to become laws of policy in the U.S.

This includes the writing of proposed “model bills,” resolutions sent to Congress and the President in support of key policies they wish the U.S. to adopt. All of this is allegedly being done outside the protocols and provision of the U.S. State Department – and possibly without that Department’s knowledge or approval.

Sixteen of these officials are Members of the European Parliament or foreign governments including: the United Kingdom, Poland, Australia, Belgium, Brussels, Punjab, and the Czech Republic. The 17th is the former U.K. Minister of Defense, Liam Fox, who resigned earlier this year following a scandal involving the Atlantic Bridge Charity and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Article Continues

Learn More

 The American Legislative Exchange Council 

ALEC Gets Dumped

I personally don’t have any issue at all with “Stand Your Ground” laws and I sure wouldn’t pull my business from any company that supports them. I do think it is rather amusing to watch ALEC members scramble and duck in a lame effort to avoid bad publicity & fallout from the shooting case in FL so this story about Coca-Cola withdrawing made me chuckle – if for no other reason than I am happy to see folks getting wise to the ways of ALEC.

For anyone getting too happy over the companies that are ending their involvement with ALEC, check yourself – (A) I wouldn’t bet on the dis-entanglement lasting very long and (B) just because a parent company is publicly withdrawing, it doesn’t mean that all of the subsidiary feeder branches that stem from it are also dropping out of ALEC.

Excerpts from (Reuters) – “Coke Withdraws from advocacy group that backs gun laws”

“Coca-Cola Co is dropping its membership in a conservative national advocacy group that supports “Stand Your Ground” laws…

…The move by the world’s biggest soft drink maker comes as corporate America faces increased scrutiny from consumers and shareholder activists over lobbying and political spending.

PepsiCo Inc ended its relationship with the group – the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – in January.

In a statement on Thursday, Coca-Cola made no direct mention of the controversial self-defense law pushed by ALEC that provides shooters with wide latitude for claiming self defense when they perceive a threat.

“The Coca-Cola Company has elected to discontinue its membership with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC),” the statement said.

“Our involvement with ALEC was focused on efforts to oppose discriminatory food and beverage taxes, not on issues that have no direct bearing on our business. We have a long-standing policy of only taking positions on issues that impact our company and industry.”

…ALEC’s private enterprise board includes executives from companies including Pfizer Inc and Reynolds American, which stood by the group on Thursday along with Procter & Gamble Co, a member company.

“We don’t agree with every ALEC position, but we participate in ALEC’s healthcare forums because state legislators that are the members in ALEC, they make decisions that impact our business and the country’s business every day,” said Peter O’Toole, a spokesman for the world’s largest drugmaker.

Pfizer reviews its membership in outside organizations regularly, he said.

Reynolds, the maker of Camel cigarettes, said ALEC provides “a valuable forum for sharing of ideas and fostering better understanding of a broad range of both legislative and business issues.”

Cigarette-maker Altria Group, which has an employee on the ALEC board, said its involvement is focused on business-related issues.

Exxon Mobil Corp declined to comment as did Diageo Plc, which makes Johnnie Walker whisky and Smirnoff vodka.

Companies that were not immediately available for comment include: Johnson & Johnson, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, United Parcel Service Inc, among others (here)…”

Read the Full Story Here on Reuters

Anti-Choice ALEC

A special thanks to Wesman Todd Shaw for the heads-up on this story.

March 8, 2012 Source Care 2 

“Republicans insist there is no war on women, yet a new report from the Sunlight Foundation confirms a deliberate, concerted strategy to push ultrasound legislation across the states.

And the anti-abortion Americans United for Life (AUL) proudly confirms it’s behind the assault.

The group authored a model bill called “The Woman’s Ultrasound Right to Know Act” that serves as the “inspiration” for many of the ultrasound bills currently under consideration in over a dozen states. Sound familiar? It should. It’s the same exact strategy the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) employes in pushing its privatization legislation.

Read more: Meet The Anti-Choice ALEC  by 

Learn More About ALEC’s Work HERE

And Here At –

The United States of ALEC

 on Feb 6, 2012 – A few times a year, ALEC gathers lawmakers, corporate CEOs, and lobbyists together in the same high-end resort-hotel ballrooms to present to the elected officials model legislation written by ALEC and voted on by the corporations. If the corporations approve, that legislation then gets carried back to state legislatures – or even the US Congress – by the lawmakers in attendance, who submit it as new laws. And it’s long been speculated – because identical laws keep popping up in state after state – that Republican lawmakers who attend ALEC conferences are taking their orders directly from ALEC – and therefore legislation dealing with everything from Voter ID laws, to harsher prison sentences for drug offenders, to dismantling EPA regulation have their roots in ALEC. Now there’s proof…

Republican Florida Rep. Introduces Bill With Paragraph Exposing ALEC As The Bill’s Creator

February 2, 2012


Usually, legislators remove the paragraph before introducing the bill but sometimes they forgot. And it’s very embarrassing to ALEC. So when Rep. Burgin realized that she has submitted a bill with ALEC’s name on it, she swiftly withdrew the bill and replaced it with a new one.

The Eldorado Incident: Occupy vs ALEC


I may not be a fan of the Occupy movement but I’m even less of a fan of ALEC. Nice to know so many of our good legislators here in New Mexico were enjoying a cozy dinner with their corporate owners last night…so sorry that their little party was crashed and ruined…

The protest of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) dinner at the Eldorado apparently turned violent last night after a small group of Occupy Santa Fe protesters went inside the hotel and disrupted the dinner.

According to several legislators who were there, a female guest of Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque, was struck in the eye by a piece of cardboard  — actually a satirical dinner menu and program created by the protesters. According to legislators, her cornea was scratched.

Rehm declined comment, but a spokeswoman for House Republicans who talked to him said Rehm’s guest’s eye is being monitoring and is improving today.

The incident was denounced by members of both political parties, including some who have expressed agreement with Occupy’s positions on issues. Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe said the incident made the protesters look like their opponents’ caricature of the Occupy Movement.

Jeff Haas, a spokesman for the protesters, said in an email to The New Mexican, “While Occupy believes that confrontation and civil disobedience are often effective as demonstrated by Dr. King and Rosa Parks, we regret that anyone was injured last night by either flying paper or rough treatment by hotel security or ALEC members. Fortunately the injuries were minor compared to the devastation to people and the environment caused by ALEC legislation”

Full Story & Video on ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: THE BLOG: The Eldorado Incident: Occupy vs ALEC.

The ‘Tools’ of Tort Reform

Looks like ALEC is once again using legislative tools in order to protect global corporations that screw American citizens. Not surprisingly, ALEC is pushing to have  the liability of corporations that harm us limited and want to restrict our ability to hold careless and unscrupulous corporations responsible for their misdeeds. These bills not would not only protect harmful corporations but save insurance industry a small fortune in legal settlements at the same time.

Beautiful arrangement, (for those who benefit from our system of cronyism, at least) isn’t it?

Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global corporations and state politicians VOTE BEHIND CLOSED DOORS to change the laws to limit the rights and remedies of Americans injured or killed by corporations. These so-called “model bills” erode the rights of an injured person, or that person’s family, who files a complaint alleging that a corporation caused injury or death and should be held responsible for all the damages its actions caused.

Read the *Model Bills* on ALEC Exposed

Prison Industry ‘Banking On Bondage’

The Spoils of Mass Incarceration

ACLU – The United States imprisons more people — both per capita and in absolute terms — than any other nation in the world, including Russia, China, and Iran. Over the past four decades, imprisonment in the United States has increased explosively, spurred by criminal laws that impose steep sentences and curtail the opportunity to earn probation and parole. The current incarceration rate deprives record numbers of individuals of their liberty, disproportionately affects people of color, and has at best a minimal effect on public safety. Meanwhile, the crippling cost of imprisoning increasing numbers of Americans saddles government budgets with rising debt and exacerbates the current fiscal crises confronting states across the nation.

Leading private prison companies essentially admit that their business model depends on high rates of incarceration. For example, in a 2010 Annual Report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison company, stated: “The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by . . . leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices . . . .”

Click to read full report in pdf –

As incarceration rates skyrocket, the private prison industry expands at exponential rates, holding ever more people in its prisons and jails,

Continue reading

Arizona Owned By ALEC


The Voice of Corporate Special Interests in the Halls of Arizona’s Legislature

A joint report by People For the American Way Foundation and Common Cause


ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, serves as a voice for corporate special interests in state legislatures across the country. Its corporate executives, lawyers and lobbyists, along with member legislators, draft, lobby for, and secure passage of a wide array of bills designed to promote corporate interests.

Arizona has one of the highest concentrations of ALEC legislators of any state in the United States – at least 50 of the 90 legislators now serving are ALEC members.  Two-thirds of the Republican leadership in the Arizona House and Senate are on ALEC “task forces” that write  “model” legislation for state legislators around the nation. The last three Arizona Senate Presidents have all served in ALEC leadership roles:  Senator Robert L. Burns (International/Federal Relations task force), Senator Russell Pearce (Public Safety and Elections task force) and Senator Steve Pierce (Energy Environment and Agriculture task force).

Major corporations including Coca-Cola, Kraft, ExxonMobil and GlaxoSmithKline are key players in Arizona politics, and members of ALEC’s “Private Enterprise Board.” Over the past 10 years, the 22 companies represented on the Private Enterprise Board have spent $16 million in Arizona state political campaigns.

Close analysis of AZ legislation on a range of subjects shows remarkably similar – if not identical – provisions to ALEC “model” bills, including:

  • Draconian anti-immigrant measures that criminalize undocumented workers and penalize their employers, strip native-born Americans of their citizenship rights and require that all publications and materials disseminated by state agencies be written in English only
  • Measures encouraging the privatization of state prisons to the benefit of the private prison industry
  • Voter suppression bills that potentially disenfranchise tens of thousands of Arizonans
  • Attacks on workers, their unions, and collective bargaining and the elimination of public employment through outsourcing and privatizing of government functions
  • Attacks on public education through private school voucher programs
  • Measures to prevent implementation of healthcare reform, and
  • Attacks on federal environmental regulation by attempting to deny the federal government the ability to supersede weak state environmental legislation.

ALEC Thugs Attack Think Progress Reporters in New Orleans

Why is it not surprising that members of ALEC don’t want to risk any members of the press being around? If you’ve got nothing to hide, why have paid rent-a-cops tossing people out? Don’t ya like transparency, ALEC? And think about it folks…half of ALEC is composed of our elected officials!

Don’t we have the right to demand transparency at ANY event they attend that impact our lives, laws and freedoms?

Excerpt From Think Progress

Yesterday, at a conference in New Orleans, two ThinkProgress reporters were attacked by security guards for no apparent reason. Reporters Scott Keyes and Lee Fang were at the Marriott Hotel for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) annual meeting, an event that brings together state lawmakers with corporate lobbyists to draft “model” legislation.

While we stood by the second floor lobby of the conference hotel, security guards surrounded us, demanding that we leave. As we were leaving, they approached us, violently pushed us and twisted our arms. A guard approached Fang from behind, tackling him and later bending his arm to take his camera. Keyes, faced similar treatment: two security guards roughed him up on the escalator, taking his video camera, and cutting Keyes’ hand as he attempted to leave the premises. As Keyes asked why he was being forced to leave, he was shoved from the back.

Asked why they were being so belligerent, the security guards said they were acting on instructions from ALEC. At certain points during the incident, they were able to turn on their video cameras and record it:

Continue reading full story on Think Progress