Moral Monday Takes on ALEC and Koch Brothers
(APN) ATLANTA — On Monday, April 21, 2014, hundreds gathered across from the State Capitol to follow the money trail from the Gold Dome to the Atlanta offices of the rich and powerful Koch brothers at the Georgia Pacific building.
Koch Industries, along with other large corporations, financially supports the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that actually writes the repressive legislation passed by state legislatures throughout the nation.
Georgia’s HB 60, the guns everywhere bill, is an example of model legislation written by ALEC and the gun lobby. ALEC writes legislation that assaults the environment, health care, women’s rights, gay rights, immigrant rights, civil rights, workers rights, renewal energy, and much more.
In the Georgia General Assembly, we have 37 ALEC members. In the House of Representatives, Rep. Calvin Hill, Jr. (R-Canton) is the ALEC Chairman and in the Senate, Sen. Jack Hill (R-Reidsville) is the ALEC Chairman.
ALEC members in the State House of Representative are Buzz Brockway (R-101), David Casas (R-103), Josh Clark (R-98), Kevin Cooke (R-18), Sharon Cooper (R-41), Mike Dudgeon (R-24), Terry England (R-108), Earl Ehrhart (R-36), Gerald Greene (R-149), Mark Hamilton R-23), Ben Harbin (R-118), Jan Jones (R-46), Ed Lindsey, Jr (R-54), Charles Martin, Jr (R-47), Howard Maxwell (R-17), John Meadows (R-5), Larry O’Neal (R-146), Don Parsons (R-42), Paulette Rakestraw-Braddock (R-19), and Tom Rice (R-5).
ALEC members in the State Senate are John Albers (R-56), Don Balfour (R-9), Ronnie Chance (R-16), Steve Gooch (R-51), Lee Hawkins (R-49), Bill Heath (R-31), Judson Hill (R-32), Barry Loudermilk (R-14), Fran Millar (R-79), Jack Murphy (R-27), Cecil Staton (R-18), Jesse Stone (R-23), Ross Tolleson (R-20 and Renee Unterman (R-45).
“We are marching to Georgia Pacific because that is where the Koch brothers have offices and they are a major funder of ALEC, which is reeking havoc on our political system. ALEC is writing the bills, not our elected representatives… and putting money in the pockets of politicians to say, you can’t get your unemployment benefits and you can’t get your health care [Affordable Care Act]… We are calling on every politician in the state… to dump ALEC and dump Koch,” Neil Sardana with Moral Monday said.
After the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United that corporations are people and money is free speech, combined with the recent McCutcheon ruling that strikes down overall limits on campaign contributions, the wealthy elite have more freedom of speech than the rest of us.
It means that wealthy donors, whether progressive or right-wing, can give as much money as they want to federal elections candidates across the country, as long as no candidate receives more than the $5,200 cap per person. But a donor can spend millions on a specific candidate by giving to super PAC’s and 501(c)(4)’s.
“People who have millions and billions of dollars should not have a larger voice in a democracy than people who have no dollars at all. We are concerned about our democracy. We are concerned that we have the best politicians that money can buy. We will not have taxation without representation,” Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor, Ebenezer Baptist Church, said.
Now big pharmaceutical corporations, the nuclear power and weapons industry, the National Rifle Association (NRA) lobby, oil and gas corporations, Wall Street banks, and Koch Industries can spend as much money as necessary to influence politicians and votes. Ordinary citizens cannot fairly compete with the money and influence of Corporate America or from billionaires and millionaires.
The Moral Monday lineup included Rabbi Joshua Lesser, Congregation Bet Haverim; U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA); Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor, Ebenezer Baptist Church; Rev. Shannon Jones, associate pastor, Ebenezer Baptist Church; Rev. Ed Loring, Open Door Community; Rev. Fred Taylor, civil rights leader; State Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta); State Rep. Tyrone Brooks (D-Atlanta); Joe Beasley, civil rights leader; and Tim Franzen, American Friends Service Committee.
Rabbi Lesser led the people in prayer. “We are asking for our people to be let go, so our voices can be heard for change. Let us part the seas of injustice, let us speak out to the elite, so that their hearts are not harden like the Pharaohs’. But open and able to see our common humanity, able to see, what is good for all of us is good for them too. Let our voices be heard at the Capitol, throughout the city and the state,” Rabbi Lesser prayed.
The march from the State Capitol, following the money, to the Koch brothers offices began with several hundred participants representing a diverse coalition of teachers, labor, students, clergy, civil rights activists, gay rights activists, environmentalists, women, seniors, and immigrants.
On the march people chanted, Expand Medicaid, Forward Together, Not One Step Back, Dump ALEC, Dump Koch.
“Most Georgians agree that Medicaid ought to be expanded. The Koch brothers do not want Medicaid expanded. If they win and the people lose, we are not living in a democracy, we are living in an oligarchy. Our democracy will not be taken from us without a fight,” Rev. Warnock promised.
“People with a lot of money want to buy elections but elections are not up for sale,” U.S. Rep. Lewis said.
“The Governor of this state will not use his pen to say okay we are going to expand Medicaid. More than 600,000 people in Georgia need health care. We’ve got to have people in office who will say yes to what is right and no to what is wrong. There were people who did not like Medicare and Social Security, but now they are grateful. One day, they will say thank you to the Affordable Care Act,” Rep. Lewis said.