Most people have no idea what ALEC, or the American Legislative Exchange Council, is or does, but everyone should. This week, Bill Moyers is helping get the word out with a detailed look at it on PBS stations.

ALEC calls itself a “nonpartisan public-private partnership,” but this is a case of false identity. What it actually is is an organization that writes “model legislation” on a variety of topics that its membership of conservative legislators use in state after state to make new laws that promote privatization in every part of American life: education, health care, the environment, voting rights, etc.

Its efforts to privatize public education, for example, have resulted in the expansion of voucher programs in a number of states.

You can read a primer on ALEC here, by education historian Diane Ravitch, and watch the the preview of the Moyers show here:

Moyers details how ALEC gets laws passed without the public knowing about the organization’s role or how the legislation was drafted. (Moyers & Company is produced by Public Affairs Television and distributed by American Public Television; the show is airing on just about every public television station.)

You can also learn about ALEC by going to a Web site — the work of the nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy — called ALECEXPOSED , which details the organization’s complete policy agenda and who is behind it.

The Nation did a special ALEC edition, which you can see here , and the ALEC connection to the right-wing Koch brothers can be found here.

ALEC lost some of its anonymity as a result of the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, when it become known that the “Stand Your Ground” legislation in Florida that was said to have empowered George Zimmerman was written by ALEC.

After that, some of ALEC’s corporate sponsors dropped out, including McDonald’s, Kraft, Coca-Cola and Wendy’s. Hundreds of corporations and trade groups and non-profits remain.

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