ALEC exemplifies the tentacles of corporate influence on state government.
The American Legislative Exchange Council is a secretive pay-to-play (up to $10,000 a year) organization where conservative state legislators and private sector representatives meet to draft model legislation for distribution among state governments.
Examples include bills that:
- reduce regulation and taxation of corporations
- loosen environmental regulations
- tighten voter identification requirements
- weaken labor unions
- promote gun rights
A member legislator may receive all-expense-paid trips, perhaps with family members, to meetings that could result in campaign funds from out-of-state donors.
In Indiana ALEC legislation created a school voucher program that takes money from public schools. It also gave us the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which brought national attention, withering condemnation, and embarrassment to the state. Three RFRA co-authors chair ALEC task forces.
Such fiascos have prompted some major corporations, such as Ford, to withdraw from membership in ALEC. ALEC enjoys a 501(c)(3) designation by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) as an “educational” organization. Common Cause challenged this designation in a suit filed in 2011, but there has been no decision to date.
For more information go to The Center for Media and Democracy’s ALEC Exposed.