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Dylan Scott

Dylan Scott is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He previously reported for Governing magazine in Washington, D.C., and the Las Vegas Sun. His work has been recognized with a 2013 American Society of Business Publication Editors award for Best Feature Series and a 2010 Associated Press Society of Ohio award for Best Investigative Reporting. He can be reached at dylan@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Dylan

A representative for social media giant Facebook said Wednesday that the company would likely end its relationship with the American Legislative Exchange Council next year.

The expected move follows Google and Microsoft, two other name-brand technology companies that have dropped their ALEC ties in the last month. The conservative advocacy group's position on climate change led to those departures, with Google chairman Eric Schmidt saying that ALEC was "literally lying" about the issue.

A Facebook representative didn't specify an issue in its message to the San Francisco Chronicle, but said they would likely end their membership in 2015.

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They wear camouflaged uniforms, bearing military-style insignia. They ride helicopters over the forests of Mendocino County, Calif., on the state's north coast, equipped with firearms, where they cut down illegal marijuana. But they aren't the army. They aren't even the police. They are Lear Asset Management, a private security firm that is attracting a lot of attention for the work it's doing -- and even perhaps some work it hasn't done

KCBS in San Francisco described them as "mysterious men dropping from helicopters to chop down" pot plants. Rumors swirl in the area's marijuana community about heavily armed men choppering onto their private land and cutting down their marijuana plants without identifying themselves or answering questions about who they are. Lear has become a boogeyman of sorts for a certain population in northern California.

But they aren't hiding. Paul Trouette, Lear Asset Management's 55-year-old founder, spoke with TPM for more than 30 minutes earlier this week to describe what his company does and why they do it. They see themselves filling a void that law enforcement cannot. Trouette at one point invoked the Pinkertons -- the private detective agency notorious for, among other things, violently busting unions and chasing Wild West outlaws -- to demonstrate the historical precedent for what they're now doing in this county of 88,000 on the edge of the California Redwoods.

"Law enforcement just doesn't have the means to take care of it any longer," Trouette told TPM. The 2011 murder of Fort Bragg, Calif. city councilman Jere Melo by an illegal trespasser tending poppy plants as Melo patrolled private land for a timber company made a big impression on Trouette, he said. Lear was incorporated the same year, and the company has worked with a non-profit founded in Melo's memory.

"That's when the hole began to be filled in my understanding of how to put together a cohesive, legal, organized private security firm that is now dealing with these types of issues," Trouette said, explaining that he sees Lear "on the cutting edge of citizens becoming involved in their communities and utilizing their legal rights to affect positive change in their communities."

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The Koch brothers are coming home, as one of their political advocacy groups launches a new TV ad against independent Kansas Senate candidate Greg Orman.

Freedom Partners Action Fund -- which, as Politico reported, is a new super PAC in the conservative titans' political network that plans to spend $15 million during the midterm campaigns -- is going up with the TV ad. The group told the Associated Press that it was spending "six figures" on the spot.

Koch Industries, the corporation that has helped make the brothers billionaires, is based in Wichita.

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Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), who is locked in a tight re-election race, appeals directly to Hispanic women in a new Spanish-language TV ad shared exclusively with TPM.

The ad is the second spot in a $500,000 TV ad buy by Udall's campaign and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Spanish-language channels that will run through Election Day.

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Incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), who is facing an unexpectedly fierce challenge for re-election, warned Monday at a campaign stop that the United States is heading for "national socialism."

It's not clear whether Roberts intended to make a reference to Nazism or simply meant to invoke the run of the mill looming specter of socialism.

American Bridge, the liberal opposition research group that tracks Republican candidates, posted the video of Roberts's remarks at a Dodge City event.

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After the 2010 elections, the American Legislative Exchange Council was arguably at the height of its power. Though it had been around since the 1970s (President George W. Bush is pictured at ALEC's 2005 annual meeting above), Republican wins in statehouses across the nation that year gave the group an outsized influence in policymaking. Its model legislation covered everything from Stand Your Ground laws to new voter ID requirements and popped up everywhere.

But these few years of prominence seem to be catching up to ALEC as it has enthusiastically pursued its mission to, in the words of one liberal watchdog to the New York Times: "Bring together corporations and state legislators to draft profit-driven, anti-public-interest legislation."

Starting in 2012, less than two years after ALEC allies seized power in state legislatures, the group's corporate partners have undergone a mass exodus, at times for their own ideological reasons, other times under public pressure. And by some counts, more than two dozen companies have severed their ties.

That exodus has continued into this week, as Google chairman Eric Schmidt said Monday that his company would leave ALEC over climate change. Below is an exhaustive -- but likely not comprehensive -- list of the major businesses that have left the group and why.

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In what is likely a big win for Kansas Democrats, the Kansas Supreme Court declined Tuesday to hear the lawsuit being brought by a Democratic voter suing to force the state Democratic Party to name a new candidate in the Senate race. Instead, the state's high court referred the case to a lower court for a fuller hearing.

David Orel, a registered Democratic voter in Kansas City, Kan., who is refusing to speak to the press, filed the lawsuit after the state Supreme Court ruled that former Democratic nominee Chad Taylor should be taken off the ballot. In it, he argues that the Democratic Party is required by state law to replace Taylor.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has asserted the same position. But election law expert and University of California-Irvine law professor Rick Hasen said that the state supreme court's new order would likely help Democrats in their effort to leave the Democratic spot open and drive voters to independent candidate Greg Orman in his bid to unseat incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS).

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Whither the Obamacare truther?

Last week, top administration official Marilyn Tavenner announced that 7.3 million Obamacare enrollees had paid their premiums, as they must to receive and continue receiving their coverage. On its face, it was a relatively minor news event, a reminder that millions of people did sign up for insurance.

But it was also the end of one of the GOP's favorite anti-Obamacare memes. Those 7.3 million paying customers meant that more than 90 percent of the 8 million people who President Obama himself said had enrolled in coverage had paid for it. That might not seem surprising. But it was just a few months ago that Republicans were routinely questioning the official enrollment story being told by the White House, theorizing that a third or more of Obamacare sign-ups weren't paying their bills and that the successes being sold by the administration were a sham.

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Google plans to officially cut ties with the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, the company's chairman announced Monday, declaring that the group is "literally lying about climate change" and so Google can no longer be associated with it.

The Internet giant would be the second major technology to part ways with ALEC in the last two months. Microsoft announced in August that it would end its relationship with ALEC, and that decision was linked to Microsoft's support for renewable energy projects.

"The facts of climate change are not in question anymore. Everyone understands climate change is occurring, and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place," Google Chairman Eric Schmidt told NPR's Diane Rehm in explaining the decision. "And so we should not be aligned with such people -- they're just, they're just literally lying."

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