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Hal Wick Thinks ALEC Fair and Balanced, Just Like Fox News

The Mitchell Daily Republic gives Rep. Hal Wick 783 words to tell South Dakotans that the American Legislative Exchange Council is not partisan.

No. No no no. Even the conservative press acknowledges the obvious: the concerted, widespread opposition to ALEC mounted by "liberal-left/progressive sources" proves that ALEC is all about conservative partisanship.

Rep. Wick asserts that South Dakota Democrats have been active in ALEC; therefore, ALEC is not partisan. Baloney. ALEC promotes a very specific pro-corporate agenda. Democrats slip and fall for the big-money agenda, but Democrats like Rick Weiland and me are most outspoken about the improper influence of big money in politics, and Republicans like Wick and Mike Rounds are most instrumental in defending that influence.

Rep. Wick also plays with numbers:

Readers should also consider how much of their money is spent on membership to the various legislative organizations. For all 105 South Dakota lawmakers to be members of ALEC, the state would pay $10,500 for a two-year membership, but the legislators who belong purchase their own memberships. The state currently pays the National Conference of State Legislatures more than $112,000 and the Council of State Governments nearly $95,000 for all lawmakers for only one year. Membership in ALEC is cheap in comparison.

This paper, having balked at $42,500 for travel to ALEC meetings, should at least appreciate the much smaller price tag for ALEC membership. Travel reimbursement may be higher for ALEC, but that's because more legislators find value in those meetings and policy proposals for a better South Dakota [Rep. Hal Wick, "ALEC Ideas Are Not Partisan," Mitchell Daily Republic, 2014.05.31].

Let's translate that argument: because he can get more conservative legislators to help him gobble up the Legislative travel budget, that gobbling must prove that ALEC's propaganda indoctrination is as non-partisan as the activities of other genuinely non-partisan legislative organizations.

Again, baloney. Rep. Wick, Rep. Betty Olson, Rep. Jenna Haggar, and the other conservatives in Pierre go to ALEC because it confirms their worldview and campaign slogans. When they go to genuinely non-partisan meetings, they encounter more challenges to their worldview. Challenges feel like partisan attacks; therefore, NCSL and CSG must be partisan. It's the same thinking that convinces folks like Wick and Gordon Howie that objective journalists are really liberals: balanced reporting often conflicts with our conservative ideology, so let's all watch Fox News and call it fair and balanced!

For those trying to silence discussion, I have a message: come be a part of it. Bring your ideas, but leave the attacks at home. At ALEC, we only want the best ideas from everyone, because our constituents, our states and our country deserve it [Wick, 2014.05.30].

See? Rep. Wick goes to ALEC to get away from "attacks" on his worldview and only hear the "best" ideas. That's why Rep. Wick has gone to ALEC meetings since 1977: to insulate himself from counterideas and arm himself to defend his partisan agenda.


  1. Kal Lis 2014.05.31

    In order for the folks who attend ALEC gatherings to hear the best ideas from everyone, shouldn't the meetings be open to, for lack of a better word, everyone.

    Also, don't good ideas precede "the best ideas"? Has ALEC ever produced a good idea?

    A better question might be: Has ALEC ever produced a good idea that will benefit someone who isn't in the top 10%? (I'm being generous with that number. It seems ALEC's target audience is the top 2%, but there may be some unintended consequences that spill over.)

  2. Rorschach 2014.05.31

    ALEC is a Republican caucus meeting plain and simple. There are no South Dakota Democrats who are members of ALEC - just Republicans. The fact that Paul Dennert went to an ALEC meeting years ago (trip paid for by ALEC not taxpayers) before deciding the group wasn't for him does not make it a bipartisan group. The fact he took one trip on ALEC's corporate contributors' dime does not make him "active" in that organization.

  3. Randall 2014.05.31

    ALEC - the American Legislative Exchange Council - is a non-elected group - funded by corporations and the wealthiest among us - that drafts legislation and gives it to our elected lawmakers, whose job it is to draft legislation that represents us, the voters.
    The American Legislative Exchange Council is an end-run around our Democratic Republic.

  4. Donald Pay 2014.05.31

    ALEC's "best ideas" involve turning South Dakota into a nuclear, hazardous and solid waste disposal area. In ALEC's planning since the late 1970s South Dakota is to serve as a sacrifice area for the corporate elite. Any South Dakota legislator who is involved in that organization is saying South Dakota is to be the chemical toilet for the corporate elite.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.05.31

    And Kal Lis, Randall, Donald, the points you make about ALEC's real agenda are points around which Democrats and Republicans alike ought to be able to rally in opposition, especially the point that ALEC is an end run around the democratic republic.

  6. 96 Tears 2014.05.31

    ALEC is as fair and balanced as the John Birch Society with the same national and world views. Hal Wick must be frightened of the National Conference of State Legislatures which has been the primary resource of good governing ideas for decades for all states and legislators of all political parties. I wonder what Dr. Farber would think of boobs like Wick portraying ALEC as a nonpartisan think tank.

  7. toclayco 2014.05.31

    Hal Wick and his like-minded colleagues are the useful idiots ALEC counts on to take their odious agenda and enact South Dakota and many other states. The electorate who are ignorant of ALEC's mission are guilty of abdicating their responsibility as voters to send useful idiot Wick and his cohorts packing. Pay attention Dammit.

  8. Roger Cornelius 2014.05.31

    ALEC should be called an "idiot's delight" and Wick is even bigger idiot for believing the ALEC crap machine.

  9. JeniW 2014.05.31

    Has anyone received any reports or summaries from their respective legislators about what they have learned from attending ALEC sponsored events?

    IMO, since we as tax payers have been forced to contribute to this expense, we should be able to hold the legislators who are members and/or participate in ALEC events, accountable.

  10. owen reitzel 2014.05.31

    If you check the har copy of the MDR, Wick didn't even write this. ALEC sent it to the MDR on behalf of Wick.

  11. Douglas Wiken 2014.06.01

    The John Birch society and ALEC have been or are funded by Koch Brothers and their polluting industries.

    There are ideas in South Dakota that would be much better than any of the ALEC corporate welfare policies could ever be. Republicans in the legislature need a 2x4 slammed into their balls just to get their attention...too much like getting mules to drink water.

  12. Dee_Voss 2014.07.03

    Do you have a subscription to this newspaper. They have put the editorial from Wick behind a paywall and it is no longer available to those of us who don't subscribe. Would love to read the whole thing - any ideas?

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