ALEC Fingered for Lobbying

A front page article in the New York Times on April 21, 2012 exposes the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as a stealth business lobbyist that pushes pro-business, anti-public interest legislation in state capitols from coast to coast. ALEC is a little-known, non-profit organization that brings state legislators together with corporations to draft model legislation favoring businesses. The group has a sophisticated system for shaping state-level legislation. Legislators pay a nominal $50  fee annually to join ALEC, but corporations pay dues ranging from $7,000 to $25,000 per year, which affords them guaranteed access to legislators at upscale events like cigar receptions, conferences and pigeon shoots. Businesses use these opportunities to promote new laws to legislators benefiting the companies’ bottom lines. ALEC claims to be bipartisan, but of 104 leadership positions in the organization, Republicans fill all but one, and the policies ALEC promotes are almost exclusively right-wing. ALEC’s role as a driving force behind the wave of “Stand Your Ground” or “Shoot First” laws sweeping the country has made the group a target of public anger. ALEC has also promoted laws sweeping the country that end collective bargaining, divert taxpayer money to private schools and impose restrictions on voting. The Times studied hundreds of pages of previously-secret, internal ALEC documents, including minutes of private meetings, emails the group sent to members and correspondence. All were obtained and turned over to the Times by the good-government group Common Cause, which used these documents to support a complaint to the Internal Revenue Service saying ALEC has abused its tax-exempt status by engaging in lobbying.  ALEC denies it engages in lobbying.

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