Quantcast
Connect with us

Right-wing ‘bill mill’ ALEC sics cops on reporter who discovers hotel meeting with Georgia lawmakers

Published

on

A spokesperson for the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) can be seen dispatching sheriff’s deputies in Savannah, Georgia to eject WXIA-TV reporter Brendan Keefe as he tried to cover a meeting the organization set up with state legislators.

The station posted footage of the encounter on Friday morning, showing the ALEC spokesperson, Bill Meierling, get frustrated after Keefe debunks his argument that lobbyists are not involved with the organization.

ADVERTISEMENT

WXIA also posted a partial transcript of their discussion:

Keefe: Why can’t the people who elected them see the process?
Meierling: This is a private meeting.
Keefe: A private meeting paid for by whom?
Meierling: By our members and donors.
Keefe: [Who] are lobbyists, correct?
Meierling: No.
Keefe: They’re not lobbyists, the ones that we recorded in the bar last night aren’t lobbyists that are here as members?

Keefe’s report included footage of himself talking to a lawmaker from “New England” who identified himself as a state chairman for the group and three self-identified lobbyists.

“I look for financial supporters, lobbyists and the like such as yourself, to send us a couple thousand bucks every so often,” the unidentified legislator said, addressing the lobbyist. The “couple thousand bucks” he mentioned are part of what ALEC refers to as a “state reimbursement fund,” which is designated as a charitable donation because the organization is technically a non-profit.

ADVERTISEMENT

Both the official and the lobbyists were part of what ALEC called a “Spring Task Force Summit” in Savannah.

Georgia State Sen. Nan Orrock (D), a former ALEC member, ripped the organization in a separate interview with Keefe, saying lobbyists present at these types of “summits” are granted equal standing with the lawmakers.

“It’s really a corporate bill mill,” Orrock said. “They’re cranking out legislation, putting it into the hands of legislators who go back and file it.”

ADVERTISEMENT

According to Keefe, he saw a cell phone industry lobbyist, Bethanne Cooley, talking to Georgia state Rep. Ben Harbin (R) and other lawmakers at the Savannah meeting before being asked to leave. Even though Cooley is not registered as a lobbyist in Georgia, her company’s expenses in helping set the “summit” up are not considered lobbying expenditures.

Moreover, Keefe reported, not only was Harbin exempted from having to identify who paid for his expenses associated with the meeting, but the Georgia legislature as a whole is not required to list such expenses under a provision of the state open records law.

After denying Keefe’s interview request and apparently getting flustered by his questions, Meierling motions toward the deputies.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I’m a guest of the hotel,” Keefe says.

“Not for long,” the deputy responds. “Not for long.”

Watch WXIA’s report, as reposted by Media Matters, below.

ADVERTISEMENT

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Facebook

Trump promises vets he won’t use his campaign slogan — then blurts it out seconds later

Published

on

While talking with veterans on Wednesday, President Donald Trump vowed that he would not politicize the event by reciting his 2020 campaign slogan -- and then did it anyway just seconds later.

While addressing the American Veterans National Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, the president made light of the fact that he was not supposed to be using his speech to promote his reelection campaign and was only there to talk about his administration's work on behalf of veterans.

"In all things, we are putting our country first," the president said. "We are saying, let’s say 'Make America great again,' but we are almost there, 'Make America great again.' We may have to switch it. You know what we’re going to switch it to? Huh? Yeah? That is right. I will not say it here, because this is not a campaign speech."

Continue Reading

Facebook

Eugene Robinson stunned by Trump’s rant: No ‘responsible’ world leader can trust a self-proclaimed ‘chosen one’

Published

on

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson on Wednesday reacted to President Donald Trump's assertion that he is "the chosen one."

Trump made the remarks while taking questions on the White House lawn on Wednesday. The president suggested that he is "the chosen one" to take on China because he was elected by the American people.

Robinson suggested that Trump had undermined his own negotiating position.

"You get to the point where he looks at the sky and says I'm the chosen one," Robinson said following Trump's remarks. "You get to that point and you cannot -- I don't see how any responsible leader could say this is a guy I could count on."

Continue Reading
 

Facebook

‘That was anti-Semitism!’ ADL leader rips Trump apart on CNN over ‘disloyalty’ smear of US Jews

Published

on

President Donald Trump's accusation that American Jews who vote for Democrats are somehow "disloyal" earned him a furious denunciation on CNN Wednesday from Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

During an interview with CNN's Jim Sciutto, Greenblatt was asked about Trump’s declaration that "any Jewish people" who vote for Democrats have "a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty."

Greenblatt did not hold back in his disgust about what the president said.

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
LEARN MORE
close-link
close-image