Humpday Hall of Shame: Arizona State Representative Debbie Lesko

Welcome to The Humpday Hall of Shame – every Wednesday we’ll be high-lighting  the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

This week’s inductee is Arizona State Representative Debbie Lesko.  Lesko, (R), District 9, not only serves the State of Arizona and her constituents as Vice Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and as a member of the Rules Committee, she is the Arizona public sector chairwoman of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  For those of you who are unfamiliar with ALEC, it helped author of Arizona’s SB1070, Arizona's tough new immigration law (read more at NPR).

ALEC’s Board boasts members from Bayer, Glaxo-Smith-Kline, Reynolds
, Wal-Mart, Johnson & Johnson, Energy Future Holdings, PhRMA, Kraft Foods
, American Bail Coalition, Pfizer, Reed-Elsevier, DIAGEO, AT&T, Peabody Energy, Koch Brothers, Altria Client Services, Exxon Mobil
, Salt River Project, Amoco, Chevron, Coors Brewing Company, Shell, Texaco, Chlorine Chemistry Council, Union Pacific Railroad, Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, Waste Management, Philip Morris Management Corporation and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco.  Koch Industries has been a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council for more than twenty years.

Founded in 1973 by conservative activist Paul Weyrich (who also founded the Heritage Foundation, Free Congress and Moral Majority), ALEC produces and promotes model bills, resolutions, and policy statements as well as offerings of background information on key conservative and corporate issues.  Its membership blends legislators who pay only $50 a year to join and corporate factions who pay very high dues to engage.

ALEC says that it annually introduces more than 1,000 bills through their legislative members and that one in five is enacted.

Debbie Lesko, as ALEC’s public sector chair in Arizona, outreaches to her fellow legislators “who share a common belief in limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberty” to join ALEC and attend the annual meetings, task force meetings and the State and National Policy Meetings with scholarships of up to $1900 for travel and accommodations.  It should be noted that almost without exception, the attendees are Republican.

Lesko’s voting record clearly reflects her allegiance to ALEC; including co-sponsoring SB1070, support of a compact to build a border-fence, expanding immigration enforcement measures, and the creation of an Arizona Tea Party license plate.

So, as Arizona holds meetings about the building of five new private prisons in four communities this month, we should ask where Representative Lesko stands on the proliferation of private incarceration facilities, including both prisons and immigration facilities, in Arizona.  As other states begin to pass SB1070-like legislation, we should ask Representative Lesko where it really came from.  And, we should ask her if she understands that her job is to represent the good people of District 9 and not solicit for the behind closed doors, conservative, pro-business needs of major corporations.