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Yesterday I was Told I Was Not Welcomed at a Right Wing Think Tank Conference in Grand Rapids

September 30, 2015

Have you ever heard of an organization called The State Policy Network? My suspicion is that you probably haven’t and that is not any fault of your own. The State Policy Network is just good at operating outside of the public eye.spn-red_map-spiderweb960x560px-opt

Beginning yesterday, September 29, the State Policy Network was holding its annual meeting right here in Grand Rapids at the Amway Grand. Hundreds of people and dozens of organizations will be meeting through Friday to discuss strategies and tactics that will push their agenda through at the state level.

What is their agenda you ask? Well, first it’s important to know that the State policy Network (SPN) is a national organization that brings together state-based right wing think tanks and advocacy groups to influence policy at the state level. The State Policy Network is one of the biggest allies in doing the work of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Koch brothers funded entity that is seeking to privatize the country, amongst other things.

  • So, the agenda of the SPN and its member groups is to do some of the following:
  • Get States to pass Right to Work Legislation
  • Get States to adopt austerity measures that will hurt workers, the public sector and public services
  • Attack Public Education by redirecting more public funds to Charter Schools and other “Schools   of Choice.”
  • Privatize Higher EducationScreen Shot 2015-09-30 at 2.34.20 PM
  • Promote more Ag-Gag laws, which attack community based efforts around food production and silences animal rights groups challenging the industrial animal industry.
  • Attacks on Green Energy Legislation

Those of us who reside in Michigan know what this look and feels like, as the state has adopted greater austerity measures in recent years, passed Right to Work legislation and has been exploring Ag-gag laws and cutting more funding from public education. Some of the State Policy Network partners from Michigan are, The Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the Acton Institute

You can see some of the sessions that that are taking place over the next few days, by going to the SPN Annual meeting Agenda. For a more detailed examination of the work of the State Policy Network, I highly recommend a report from the Center for Media & Democracy, entitled, Exposed: The State Policy Network. Below is a screen shot of several of the major sponsors of the State Policy Network Conference being held in Grand Rapids.

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 2.18.35 PM

I was told I was not welcomed at the SPN Conference

A few weeks ago I was contacted by folks from Political Research Associates, a group which monitors to activity of the religious and political right in the US. They asked if I would be willing to attend the State Policy Network Conference in Grand Rapids and write some articles for them on the current and future agenda of the State Policy Agenda and its members groups across the country. They offered to pay the conference fee and since I hate to miss any opportunity to see what the Political and Religious Right are up to, I said yes.

Yesterday, I went to register for the conference at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. Since I was not pre-register, I was directed to a separate table in the registration area. The person who greeted me asked if I was with any particular group. I replied that I was not a member of any of the SPN’s affiliates, just someone from Grand Rapids who was interested in state policy issues.Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 2.17.37 PM

Then I was asked if I had a business card, to which I responded, “No, I was not a business person or professional, just someone interested in state policy issues.” This person said they would be right back and 2 minutes later they returned with a very large man who said he was the head of security for this event. I said I didn’t understand why security was called. I just wanted to register for the conference. The security guy asked to see some ID, so I gave him my drivers license.

He left and walk across the display tables area to talk with two other people, who were no doubt conference organizers. They looked at my ID, then both proceeded to get on their mobile phones and do what appeared to be some searching. After 5 minutes the security guard returned and said that he was told that, “I was not welcomed, especially after looking at my website.” I said, which website? This only seemed to aggravate the security guy. I then said, pointing to the conference brochure, (which says Experience Freedom) why I was not allowed to participate in a conference that purported to promote freedom? He was not amused and said that I needed to leave.

In some ways I was not surprised that I was asked to leave, but it certainly underscores the secrecy and exclusivity of the political and religious groups, like the State Policy Network.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 30, 2015 7:15 pm

    maybe you could have met one of the organizers of the event in the bathroom?

  2. Brett Colley permalink
    September 30, 2015 7:52 pm

    I think security was just helping you to experience the freedom of attending some other conference…or maybe ArtPrize.

  3. SacredPeaks permalink
    September 30, 2015 7:53 pm

    Jeff, This is happening in other states too! There was a meeting a couple of months ago in Georgia where journalists were removed from the conference and hotel where they were staying by security! The problem is (s)elected politicians and other public officials were in attendance being directed by these organizations. It’s a cannibal cookie-cutter template – theft of the commons, more privatized prisons, failing charter schools, theft of natural resources. No public accountability at all! But that is what they would like – under the control of the Gautleiters like in Nazi Germany. Then there was another big meeting in California a few weeks ago. So many state Governors and politicians in attendance glad-handing with the Koch brothers. Just disgusting! Glad to see you are writing articles again!

  4. September 30, 2015 7:54 pm

    No doubt Brett. Actually, there is an ArtPrize connection, which will I will be posting in the next day or 2.

Trackbacks

  1. More evidence that ArtPrize & Rick DeVos are connected to Far Right Politics | Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy
  2. MLive provides a plug for the Acton Institute…..again | Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

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