Police ILLEGALLY ‘Escort’ Reporter From Secretive Right-Wing Lobbyist-Lawmaker Schmoozefest (VIDEO)

“We can’t show you what’s behind this closed door,” WXIA’s Brendan Keefe tells his viewers. “A place where legislators and lobbyists have an equal vote. A place they don’t want you to see.”

But Keefe should have been allowed in, because Georgia lawmakers were inside discussing legislation with corporate lobbyists. Furthermore, the meeting was hosted at a posh Savannah hotel by the American Legislation Exchange Council (ALEC), which state Sen. Nan Orrock, an Atlanta Democrat, calls “a corporate bill mill.”

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

How does Orrock know? She’s served in both houses of Georgia’s assembly and used to be a member of ALEC. She also adds, “truth be told, they write the bills.”

ALEC also acts as a boring kind of data service that matches corporate lobbyists and donors up with lawmakers willing to sponsor their vile legislation. As John Oliver once aptly said, if you want to do something evil, put it inside of something boring.

Alec and the ‘Asbestos Claims Priorities Act.’

To see if ALEC actually does write bills for their lawmakers, Keefe took a look at the Asbestos Claims Priorities Act, which severely limits victims’ ability to sue asbestos companies for damages.  He saw that the language for the bill, which Georgia’s state legislature passed in 2007, matched ALEC’s version almost word for word (to see for yourself, click the links).

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that an almost identical bill was passed unanimously by West Virginia’s senate back in March.

According to the EPA, over-exposure to asbestos is linked to potentially lethal diseases, including lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma

Furthermore, ALEC provides “scholarships” for lawmakers to attend these schmooze-fests and get wined, dined and wooed by corporate interests. For example, the three sponsors of the 2007 asbestos bill — Georgia Senators Renee Unterman, Judson Hill and former Sen. John J. Wiles — received over $22,000 in these so-called “scholarships.”

Unterman has since parted ways with ALEC, and angrily calls them ” “angry white men […] controlled by industry.” Not surprisingly, her “scholarship” was a paltry $4,362 compared with Wiles’ $7,382 and Hill’s $10,391.

ALEC helps corporations lobby on the taxpayers’ dime.

Oh, and guess what? As Sen. Orrock reminds Keefe, ALEC claims to be a 501c3 organization for”charitable and educational purposes.”  That means they do all this tax free, and their corporate sponsors get tax write-offs for foisting off their interests on the American people.

Now, Keefe wants to get into a “Communications & Technology Task Force Luncheon” after peeking through the door and seeing Georgia State House Rep. Ben Harmon having a sit-down with a cell phone industry lobbyist. Alas, ALEC’s VP of Communications Bill Meirling refuses to let him in. Meirling also asks Keefe to turn off his camera, which he refuses to do.

The ALEC VP then threatens to have Keefe thrown out of the hotel.

“Okay, well then I’d like to have you escorted out of the building, please.”

Keefe explains that he’s a guest of the hotel and also has  press credentials that are supposed to allow him to observe meetings where legislation is being discussed.

“Here’s a question, if Georgia legislators are meeting here, we’re credentialed right here to see Georgia legislators making laws. Are they discussing things that can become law here?”

When Meirling claims they’re just having “discussions” and denies that any lobbyists are present at the ALEC event, Keefe presents him with video evidence that there are lobbyists present — namely ones he’d met at the bar before who flat-out said they were lobbyists.

Meirling then motions over to a group of uniformed deputies who are supposedly “off-duty,” and they come over.  When Keefe repeats that he is a paid guest at the hotel, one replies, “Not for long, not for long,” and then says they’ll escort him to his room to gather his things.

That’s right. those deputies escorted a reporter away from an event involving lawmakers, which he was legally allowed to attend, and threw him out of a hotel room he had paid for. They did this illegally to protect ALEC, an organization that not only lobbies for corporations but actually writes the laws, and they did it on the taxpayers’ dime. And this isn’t just happening in Savannah, Georgia, it’s happening all over the country at all levels of government. For more information, visit ALEC Exposed.

Angry yet?

Watch Keefe and WXIA expose ALEC.

Photo: Video screen grab/WXIA