Through the deep pockets of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to roll back civil rights, challenge governmental restrictions on polluters, infringe on workers' rights, limit government regulations of commerce, privatize public services and generally make certain that government represents the interests of the international corporatists who are ALEC supporters.
Among ALEC's most notorious supporters is Koch Industries, the second largest privately owned company in the United States. Koch Industries owns Georgia Pacific, which is a supplier of specialty chemicals for the production of coal, oil and gas in West Virginia, through Freedom Industries L.L.C.
In 2010 the industrial trade group American Chemistry Council (ACC), a powerful and well-heeled member of ALEC, supported Democrat Joe Manchin's successful bid for West Virginia's U.S. Senate seat by spending $225,000 to advertise him as a "Senator for Our Future." Even though Manchin was one of ALEC's few Democratic members at the time, Joe has been active with ALEC since 1991, when he was a state legislator and ALEC's state chairman. ALEC later made him their national treasurer.
Since serving in the U.S. Senate, Manchin has proven that he's one of the group's key allies. His support was conspicuously absent from a 2011 bill to strengthen the Toxic Substances Control Act ("TSCA"), our nation's main law aimed at regulating chemicals. Instead of properly requiring chemical manufacturers to demonstrate that their products are safe before they go into use, the act currently requires the government to prove actual harm in order to control a dangerous chemical.
Manchin still owns controlling stock of Enersystems (through a "blind trust"), the same energy brokerage firm that highly depends on the toxic chemicals to hydrofrack the Marcellus and clean the coal which produces the energy that his company exports.
So despite his recent rhetoric about TSCA, West Virginians have experienced years of preventable suffering as a result of Manchin's long-standing double dealing "compromises" and protections of the industries that are poisoning us.
I'm not paying "a lick of attention" to what U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin or his spin doctors say because I've watched how he treats our grandmothers.
Pritt is chairwoman of West Virginia's Mountain Party and a former state senator and delegate and former Democratic nominee for governor.