RELEASE: Corruption Consultants: Conservative Special Interests and Corporations Hurt State Economies and Democratic Processes
Washington, D.C. — A new CAP report looks at how special-interest groups have used state governments as testing grounds for polices that skew political and economic power toward millionaires and billionaires and away from everyday Americans.
The report—titled “Corruption Consultants: Conservative Special Interests and Corporations Hurt State Economies and Democratic Processes” and written by Malkie Wall, Danielle Root, and Andrew Schwartz—looks at the insidious role that corporations and groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the State Policy Network, and the Bradley Foundation play in advancing state policies that benefit the wealthy and their allies at the public’s expense. After honing policies at the state level, these entities, which the authors label as “corruption consultants,” then spread their harmful pet policies to other states and to the federal level. The authors argue that some states have essentially become laboratories for corruption for policies ranging from prison privatization to school vouchers to the union-busting techniques that laid the foundation for last year’s Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision. Making matters worse, corporate special interests, along with their legislative allies, push for anti-democratic measures—such as strict voter ID laws and extreme gerrymanders—in order to rig electoral outcomes in their favor.
The authors provide several policy recommendations that would help curb the influence that “corruption consultants” have over lawmakers and the policymaking process, such as:
- Rebuilding and protecting unions as advocates for the broad-based public interest
- Unrigging elections with critical reforms to expand access to the ballot, eliminating gerrymandering, and curbing the influence of money in politics
- Ensuring that state and federal legislative offices have appropriate funding so that lawmakers do not need to rely on special-interest groups and lobbyists for support
“States are often lauded as ‘laboratories of democracy,’ wherein policies that help American families are tested and refined. In some states, however, corporate special interests have used their considerable resources to corrupt the lawmaking process in order to advance harmful policies that cost everyday Americans their financial well-being and voice in elections,” said Danielle Root of the Center for American Progress.
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