Sustained Outrage

Another Thursday, another look at work that drew our attention and admiration:

Working quietly behind the scenes, a private prison company helped get Arizona’s immigration law passed, which, if it stands, will create a demand for — you guessed it — prisons, NPR reported this week. Of the 37 Arizona legislators who co-sponsored the bill that would allow law enforcement to arrest and detain anyone who could not show that they were in the country legally, 31 accepted money from private prison companies or their lobbyists. Part 2 of NPR’s investigation details how an organization called the American Legislative Exchange Council allows companies to influence — sometimes even draft — legislation away from public scrutiny.

Just days before the election, FactCheck.org looked at some of the television ads being run in races for state Supreme Courts, and found that some of the most vicious attack ads were false, misleading or taken out of context. Of note, the article took issue with an ad that accused three Iowa justices of “ignoring the will of the people,” “legislating from the bench” and “imposing their own values” in a ruling that allowed gay marriage. The ad overlooked that the decision was unanimous, that public opinion in Iowa is divided and that the court found the law was unconstitutional. On election day, all three of the justices, who were up for a retention vote, were ousted from the court, the first time since 1962 that any sitting justice has not won a retention vote in Iowa, the Des Moines Register reported.

Two chemical companies have requested trade secret status for the fluids they want to use in fracturing in Wyoming, ProPublica.org reported. As of Sept. 15, companies are required to report the chemicals they intend to use in natural gas wells before the wells are approved. The request for trade secret status must be approved by either the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission or a state court judge, or else the companies must disclose the makeup of their fracturing fluids. Environmentalists hope that the new disclosure requirements will help provide comprehensive data on the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and water contamination.