Tucson, Ariz. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today asked the Department of the Interior (DOI) inspector general to investigate the public costs of an ongoing right-wing campaign to pressure DOI officials into ceding control of federal land to states. Grijalva’s letter, which also asks DOI to assess potential lobbying disclosure violations by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is available at http://1.usa.gov/1eyVYZM.
ALEC is an organization of state legislators that consistently introduces and promotes model bills through its membership around the country but refuses to file lobbyist registration. ALEC-sponsored bills to transfer federal property to state control have been filed or signed into law in multiple states, and more are expected.
Grijalva notes in his letter that Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who has refused to pay grazing fees to the Bureau of Land Management and precipitated an armed standoff with federal officials, spoke last year in favor of an ALEC-backed Nevada bill (AB 227) to study the transfer of federally managed land to state control. During public testimony, Bundy said in part, “I must say that I am glad to see you people stand for state sovereignty today. [. . .] Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) 321.596 states, ‘The State of Nevada has a strong moral claim upon the public land retained by the Federal Government within Nevada’s borders.’ Let us strengthen that bill and go on and claim this land and our sovereignty.”
As Grijalva notes in his letter, “The ALEC vision of state sovereignty trumping long-standing federal government efforts to manage public lands has already had tangible effects on Bureau of Land Management and other agency employees’ efforts to do their jobs. Examining how severe that impact has been, and whether ALEC is exerting undue influence on federal land management efforts, is well within the scope of [the inspector general’s] office. I believe a timely examination of these issues would serve the public interest.”
In a written statement to the Washington Post earlier today, ALEC rejected any attempt to scrutinize its activities and claimed Rep. Grijalva is unable fairly to oversee his area of Congressional jurisdiction:
Grijalva’s letter in fact does cite Arizona lobbying statutes at the bottom of the first page of Appendix A. You can read the full Post article at http://wapo.st/1m81yF9.
Grijalva’s request has already received significant public attention, especially because of the Nevada standoff and its relationship to ALEC’s ongoing campaign to undermine federal land management efforts in state legislatures around the country. Coverage from the Huffington Post is available at http://huff.to/1hVBy8c, and an analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy – which includes important historical and legislative context – is available at http://bit.ly/1jL790w.