China's Alibaba Signs On to Help ALEC Write America’s Laws
Believe it or not, once upon a time long ago, laws in the United States were written by elected representatives of the people, for the good of the people. But that reality has not existed for some time and in recent decades most laws have instead been written by corporations and special interest groups and then given to one or more politicians to introduce. Enough politicians are paid to support the legistlation so that it gets passed into law. These laws are not intended to benefit the people but instead to further the interests of corporations, foreign countries and special interest groups, often at the expense of the people. And until recently it was mostly U.S. corporations that were writing America's laws. No longer.
In late 2017, the giant Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba signed on as the latest member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). That is the private organization that corporations and lobbying groups use to drive laws of their making into state legislatures across the country.
As with all things ALEC, the news about Alibaba’s involvement was never issued as a public announcement. The company made its presence known as part of ALEC for the first time during ALEC’S States & Nation Policy Summit, held in Nashville, Tenn., in December 2017. That meeting attracted more than 1,000 attendees, including corrupt state and local lawmakers and lobbyists—all hogs at the trough.
There, Bill Anaya, head of government affairs for Alibaba’s operations in the Americas, gave a public talk about his company. He is a registered lobbyist for the Chinese company. While at the meeting, Anaya told attendees: “We’re so excited to be a part of ALEC. We are probably the world’s largest e-commerce company you have never heard about. We have business-to-business marketplace solutions. We have VC marketplace solutions. And we have over 500 million active buyers on our marketplaces.”
How Alibaba is planning to make use of its new position within ALEC is not clear. But what ALEC does for others is becoming well known. As reported in previous Trillions articles (“How Corporations Are Remaking America, One State at a Time,” “The Corporate Conspiracy That’s Really Running the United States” and “Corporations Block Local Governments from Banning GMOS”), ALEC brings corporate lobbyists together with legislators below the federal level to “help” them write legislation. That legislation is crafted to make it easier to just “fill in the blanks” with state or local governmental organization names and then submit those laws to legislatures across the country. The laws are always written to support specific industries, trade associations and corporations for their benefit. By writing them hand in hand with the legislators themselves, they help the legislators look good to their home crowd by making them appear more productive even while they’re being manipulated.
Sample legislation from past events includes laws designed to:
• undercut current regulations on climate change and air pollution
• prevent local governments from banning genetically modified crops in their areas
• prevent local governments from regulating the use of pesticides such as the GMO partner product Roundup and its deadly glyphosate component
• provide a special tax break making fruit-flavored tobacco cheaper and therefore more attractive to younger smokers
• limit the power of municipalities from owning
and operating telecommunications and cable television services
• make it easier for states to withdraw from regional climate initiatives
• make it harder for Americans to sue when they’re injured by dangerous products
• criminalize free speech and participating in boycotts
• criminalize peaceful and lawful protests
• support the privatization of public education and the use of online schools
ALEC’S membership includes an estimated 2,000 legislators and more than 300 corporate members. Funding for the organization comes from corporate dues that can run up to $25,000 a year for general membership and up to another $10,000 for involvement in one or more of ALEC’S special “task forces.” Other funding comes from the Koch family Charles Koch Foundation, the Koch-managed Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, the Scaife family Allegheny Foundation and the Coors family Castle Rock Foundation.
Because of the appearance that ALEC gives of holding special meetings just to help inform legislators on important issues, an estimated additional $3 million is paid into ALEC every year from public funds to send those legislators to the meetings. Less than 2% of the money for ALEC comes from the legislators’ estimated $50 per year membership dues.
With Alibaba joining ALEC, look to ALEC to begin working on legislation that will favor the Chinese company in making further inroads into America’s marketplaces. One area where they may get involved relates to minimum-wage issues. A more important one involves Alibaba’s executive chairman’s past visit with President Donald Trump, where they spoke about “accessing the China marketplace” to make it easier for “U.S. companies [to] sell and export their goods into CHINA. ”ALEC is not the only place where Chinese companies are seeking to stake their claim on American pocketbooks by using industry organizations and direct lobbying as their entry points.
Wanhua Chemical, also of China, became part of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) to get its piece of the action. The ACC is a lobby group that focuses corporate cash into super PACS and other means of influencing politicians.
The Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, which first made its presence known by buying up a sizable number of European and U.S. companies, is now going direct. It has, via its American affiliates, already gone out of its way to influence high-level American political figures, both for Trump and during the Obama administration.
The Singapore real-estate firm Singhaiyi, a company also controlled by Chinese nationals, attempted to tip the U.S. election by donating $1.3 million to a super PAC supporting Jeb Bush for President in 2016.
There are even connections demonstrating the Chinese government’s involvement in attempting to influence Shuanghui’s acquisition of Smithfield Foods, one of America’s largest pork producers, for $7 billion. Shuanghui, now the WH Group, made the deal using a $4 billion loan from a Chinese government-backed bank.
The connections of China also go further, to the very top of the Republican Congress. According to the book Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends, written by Peter Schweizer, the Chinese government has close connections with the family of Sen. Mitch Mcconnell (R-kentucky), the Senate Majority Leader. As just one example of the nature of that influence, Mcconnell’s sister-in-law was appointed by the Bank of China to a board seat after the 2016 election.
Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner took money from wealthy Chinese who needed to invest to obtain a green card under the EB-5 immigration program that allows foreigners to essentially buy their way into the U.S.
Seto Bagdoyan, who monitors the EB-5 program at the Government Accountability Office, said of the program in an interview with CBS News, "You just want to buy a green card … and you otherwise may not be qualified. You have a criminal background, you're linked to foreign intelligence services, you may be laundering dirty money."
With these as well as Alibaba’s move to join ALEC, China is slowly taking hold of more and more of American business. Without tougher laws to block that control and non-corrupt legislators to stand independent of organizations like ALEC, China will only continue to take a larger slice of the American economic pie in the future and spread its influence and control over the American people.
Americans may want to consider boycotting Alibaba and other ALEC members, provided that it is not already illegal to do so.