REPORT: Americans for Prosperity + ALEC Lobbying to Block COVID-19 Bailout $ for Ohio
New report from Center for Media and Democracy shows Koch-funded groups pushing to stop a federal government bailout
COLUMBUS, OHIO (06/24/2020) (readMedia)-- As COVID-19 ravaged Ohio in early May, Governor Mike DeWine announced $775 million in state budget cuts including $210 Million from Medicaid and $355 million from education programs. Local Ohio cities such as Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo, and Cleveland are struggling, and mayors are begging for federal aid. Today, the Center for Media and Democracy released a new report examining how Koch-funded groups Americans for Prosperity Ohio and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are lobbying state and local government to block COVID-19 federal bailout money.
READ the full report attached.
ALEC is a pay-to-play operation that writes model state legislation with the help of corporate lobbyists. They are largely funded by the Koch brothers. Americans for Prosperity is a political advocacy group formed by the Stand Together Chamber of Commerce, a dark money trade group funded by Charles Koch and his political network. The group's "Federal Budget Assistance for State and Local Government" report pushes the idea that instead of receiving bailouts, state and local governments should use their so-called "rainy day" funds and cut spending.
For decades, the Koch family has pushed their right wing agenda to limit the scope of government by funneling millions of dollars to political action committees, nonprofits, and candidates, among others, all while making billions of dollars from their numerous companies. In Ohio alone, Koch Industries employs 860 people through its companies Georgia-Pacific, Infor, Koch, and Koch Engineered Solutions. Now, with the coronavirus, the Koch family has an opportunity to advance their ongoing agenda to defund public education and weaken public employee unions.
"Americans for Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are taking advantage of a crisis that has killed more Americans than World War I to advance their anti-tax and regulation agenda and undermine public education and public employee unions," said Arn Pearson, Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy. "These groups are just trying to advance their pro-corporate, anti-government ideological agenda, not do what's best for the people of Ohio."
Key findings from the report:
• On May 12th, ALEC members, including three Ohio legislators Reps. George Lang (R-West Chester), Thomas Brinkman (R-Mt. Lookout), and Scott Wiggam (R-Wayne County), signed a letter urging federal politicians not to bail out the states, claiming that such a bailout "would be harmful to taxpayers, federalism, and ultimately the states themselves."
• On May 8th, leaders of dozens of right-wing groups wrote a letter urging congress to reject state and local bailous. Signatories include former Ohio Congressman Bob McEwen and individual leaders from the Council for National Policy (which helped coordinate protests of coronavirus lockdowns), ALEC, and many other Koch-funded groups.
• Since the end of April, AFP has been running ads on Facebook and Instagram decrying the state and local bailout and urging people to sign a letter to Congress. They've also posted a number of videos of Ohioans opposing the bailouts, urging people to contact Ohio Senators to vote against the bailout.
• AFP is also advocating for Ohio state and local governments to use their "rainy day funds" to make up for budget short falls. In contrast, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley has said city budget cuts will be steep without federal aid.
The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) is a nationally recognized watchdog that leads in-depth, award-winning investigations into the corruption that undermines our democracy, environment, and economic prosperity.
CMD's investigations, public information requests, and lawsuits have ignited national conversations on money in politics and the distortion of U.S. law and democracy -- at every level of government and in every region of the country. We believe in the public's right to know how government operates and how corporations influence our democracy -- and the true motivations for their actions. When necessary, CMD litigates to defend that right and ensure those in power follow the law.
Since CMD first exposed ALEC in 2011, more than 100 corporations have dropped ALEC, including Verizon, Ford, Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, General Electric, and Google. As a result of that ongoing investigation and other reporting, CMD is often contacted by whistleblowers wanting to make a difference. CMD has also researched the array of groups that are part of ALEC, including numerous Koch-funded entities and national and state "think tanks" that are affiliated with the State Policy Network, including Ohio's Buckeye Institute.