Off-Kilter Podcast: “Ban Secret Deals”: Meet the New Coalition Working to Ban NDAs in Corporate Subsidy Deals

April 15, 2022 Interview, Media

How would you feel if you found out your elected leaders had voted to hand out huge sums of public money to corporations, with some of them not even knowing who the recipient is, and the rest bound by contract not to divulge its identity or what its specific plans are?

Now what if we told you this happens all over the country, all the time, in deals involving wealthy corporations such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, and on and on?

Unfortunately, thanks to a legal tool called a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), this kind of corrupt secret dealmaking has become the norm rather than the exception in economic development deals. These agreements—signed by governors, mayors, state legislators, and other local leaders—prevent public officials from disclosing anything about a corporate subsidy deal they’re working on, including even the recipient, until it’s finished, cutting many key stakeholders, and most importantly the public, out of the process.

But a new coalition is seeking to change that. To learn more about the effort to “Ban Secret Deals”—and why it’s critical to economic justice in the United States—Rebecca sat down with Pat Garofalo, director of state and local policy at the American Economic Liberties Project, author of the book Billionaire Boondoggle and the Boondoggle newsletter, which looks at how corporations are ripping off our states, cities, and communities; and Illinois State Senator Robert Peters, an organizer and economic justice activist who now represents the Thirteenth Legislative District in the Illinois General Assembly, and who recently introduced the first state legislation to ban secret deals.