Protests Across the Country Condemn ALEC's Corporate Influence in Policy Making

Events at 11:30 AM and 6:30 PM at the corner of George Street and Albany Street (Rt. 27)
February 29, 2012

New Brunswick, NJ - On February 29th Occupy Wall Street is calling for a national day of action protesting the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Registered as a nonprofit, ALEC allows corporations to draft their own laws and pass them on to legislators, all behind closed doors. ALEC's major contributors are composed of powerful companies such as Wal-Mart, ExxonMobil, Monsanto, Bank of American, BP, Pfizer and New Brunswick’s own Johnson & Johnson. The Occupy Movement in New Brunswick is joining over 70 other cities in calling for an end to the sale of government influence for corporate campaign contributions, and calls for J&J to get out of ALEC.

ALEC sponsored legislation includes such infamous initiatives as the Arizona anti-immigrant bill SB 1070, the Wisconsin anti-union law Act 10, and pro-genetically modified food preemptive bills which strip cities and counties from their ability to regulate the planting of GMO crops and pesticide use.

“The public is never informed that a group representing the most privileged people in America are drafting the legislation that disempowers the most vulnerable. The decisions affecting our communities should be made democratically, not through a corrupt system that hides the influence of the very corporations that benefit at our expense. ALEC is representative of a failed system in which profit and greed are dominant over everything else.” said David Osbourne of Occupy Portland in the #F29 national press release.

The demonstration in New Brunswick will have a health-care flavor to it, the city is home to the international headquarters of Johnson & Johnson. J&J sits on ALEC's "Private Enterprise" board. reports "it was a "Vice-Chairman" level sponsor of 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council Annual Conference, which in 2010, equated to $25,000."

Multiple scandals have pitted the public interest against corporate profits. J&J continued selling faulty hip replacements outside the U.S. after issuing a domestic recalli. An EU & Iraqi bribery scandal was settled out of court for over $70 millionii, and in a secret recall scandal J&J quietly bought up problematic Children's Tylenol/Motrin but did not notify the authorities of the necessity of recalling. This attempt to avoid the embarrassment and bad press that a recall would cause has resulted in several lawsuitsiii. J&J shareholders have been unhappy with the scandals, CEO Bill Weldon just resigned but remains on the executive boardiv.

A Democracy Infirmary and street theatre will be active downtown at the corner of George Street and Albany Street (RT 27) during the lunch hour. Occupy New Brunswick will also run a Peoples' Lobby, where participants can learn which NJ politicians are members of ALEC and which "model" bills they have sponsored. ALEC laws introduced in the NJ Assembly and Senate includes anti-union "right to work" bills, "prevailing wage", and school voucher initiatives.

The day’s activities will end with a General Assembly at 6:30 PM. Doctors Without Borders will discuss "Patent Pools". The proprietary model of medical patents, and the profit motivation of the health-care industry in general have prevented the mass distribution of life-saving medicines to those in need. Food & Water Watch will highlight the relationships Wal-Mart, Monsanto and genetically modified foods have with ALEC. The GA will also feature speakers from the New Brunswick chapter of New Labor.