Our Resident Smart Aleck Talks about ALEC (VIDEO)

Sarah Kennedy has a feast with all the products made by corporations that dropped their sponsorships of ALEC last week.

Just in case you missed the national furor about the American Legislative Exchange Council over the last week, here are a few links to bring you up to speed:

The Nation: How ALEC Took Florida’s ‘License to Kill’ Law National

NY Times: Embarrassed by Bad Laws

McClatchy: Study: ALEC has ‘secretive influence’ in Missouri statehouse

Common Cause: ALEC Exposed, for 24 Hours

(Special Bonus) Here’s an oldie, but goodie from ClearlyNM about one of ALEC’s interventions in New Mexico:

Kochtopus Bill Has Its Tentacles In The New Mexico Legislature

And speaking of the Koch brothers, this just in from Center for Media and Demoracy: ALEC Gets Support From Koch-Funded Americans for Prosperity

Who Dat Lobbyist?

Back in Washington, the revolving door is alive and well when it comes to individuals leaving government service to lobby on behalf of the very industries they once regulated.  The same seems to hold true at the State Capitol in Santa Fe.

The agenda for last week’s meeting of the interim Revenue Stabilization and Tax Policy Committee featured a presentation by James O’Neill, a former assistant secretary and tax policy director for the state Department of Taxation and Revenue.  The topic of his talk:  Personal Income Tax and Corporate Income Tax Proposals-Council on State Taxation Ranking.

In his talk, O’Neill pitched three revisions to Tax Administration Act and the Corporate Income Tax Act, arguing that these suggested “fixes would increase our score” on the COST scorecard and aid economic development.

The COST to which he referred is the Council on State Taxation, a Washington-based trade association made up of nearly 600 multistate corporations engaged in interstate and international business.  COST was formed in 1969 under the sponsorship of the Council of State Chambers of Commerce, an organization still closely linked to COST.

COST’s membership is a veritable who’s who of corporate America, including 7-Eleven Inc., Aetna, Altria (formerly Phillip Morris), Aztra Zeneca Pharmaceuticals, Bank of America, Best Buy, BP America Inc, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., Comcast, Conoco Phillips, Domino’s Pizza, Home Depot, Intel, Morgan Stanley, Pfizer, Temper Pedic, Verizon, Wal-Mart, Waste Management Inc., Wendy’s — just to name a few.

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Westland DevCo/SunCal Bankruptcy Was No Surprise To TIDD Opponents

Opponents of a state-backed tax scheme to help develop a parcel of land on Albuquerque’s West Mesa say they aren’t surprised by news that the company behind the plan has filed for bankruptcy.

Here’s a copy of the bankruptcy filing.

“What we all said was going to happen and what we knew was going to happen finally happened,” said Rep. Ben Rodefer, a Democrat from Corrales. “They were not viable financially and not of the caliber we should want to be in a relationship with.”

One year ago, Rodefer was one of the strongest voices against California-based Westland DevCo/SunCal’s quest for legislative approval of a plan to tap future state tax receipts to develop a 55,000-acre parcel of land into a master-planned community on Albuquerque’s West Side.

The funding scheme, called a tax increment development district, or TIDD, is supposed to be used to spur revitalization of historic districts or other infill development within cities – not to aid companies who want to build up previously undeveloped tracts of land.

Westland DevCo/SunCal announced this week that it has filed for bankruptcy on its New Mexico properties after defaulting on $188 million in loans. A number of the company’s developments in other states have also gone bankrupt.

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The Friends of Leonard Lee Rawson: Ethics and the State Investment Council

Over the past two years, the State Investment Council (SIC) has been engulfed in corruption allegations involving pay-to-play.  To address this problem, the legislature passed a new law earlier this year that reconfigured the makeup of the SIC, including granting itself the power to appoint four new members to the body.

Last week, the Legislative Council, comprised of 15 legislative leaders, met to make its allotted four appointments pursuant to the new law.  (Governor Richardson made two new appointments early in March.)

So how did the lawmakers do?

In the case of one of the picks, that of former State Senator Leonard Lee Rawson of Las Cruces, they botched the job terribly.

In naming Rawson to the SIC, it seems that they just couldn’t help themselves. As if by force of habit, they instinctively reverted to their collegial “good old boy” ways. And in so doing, they turned a blind eye to the actions of an individual who has been a poster boy for conflict of interest, an abuser of his office and the public trust.

Before he was ejected from office by the voters in November 2008, Rawson, who was Minority Whip of the Senate at the time, was caught committing a particularly egregious act of using his office for personal aggrandizement.

Heath Haussamen summarized the case at the time:

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