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Taxpayer-subsidized stealth lobbyists: Lobbyists who circumvent normal lobbying regulations and procedures to advance the corporate agenda in statehouses nationwide on the taxpayer dime.
If Washington DC is the newVersailles, run by corporate overlords and their lobbyist-hired guns, then the 50 statehouses are its paternal twins. That is, while they look different in form, they share the same genetic function as avenues for the fulfillment of the corporate agenda.
ALEC, though, is not the only "corporate bill mill" playing this game.
"Taxpayer-subsidized stealth lobbyists" have upped the ante and skillfully advanced their agendas through bipartisan "trade associations" for state government officials - in particular, the Council of State Governments (CSG) whose multimillion-dollar budget is mostly funded by taxpayers. Through CSG and Friends, lobbyists exploit a well-tethered network of nonprofits representing state-level officials to advance the agenda of their corporate clientele.
"In a climate of stalled federal initiatives, and what I think is really unprecedented partisan battling and bickering, these state legislatures are really shaping the national policy environment," explained one such stealth lobbyist, Michael Behm, in an interview. "I really think they [states] are the real engines of government. And that's why the private sector is interested, quite frankly."
This, then, is part one of a four-party story about how the "real engines of government" work. First stop on the voyage: the CSG.