The Non-Profit Lobby You Never Heard Of

July 20th, 2011
in econ_news

K-Street-Lobbyist_upd Econintersect:  Many have heard of other non-profit lobbies, such as the NRA (National Rifle Association) and the NEA (National Education Association).  But many fewer have heard of ALEC.  At least that was the case until this week.  Suddenly there is a flurry of activity putting the spotlight on the American Legislative Exchange Council, with reports by the Los Angeles Times, The Nation and a Propublica article in The Raw Story. ALEC has been most active at the state level, writing model language that has ended up in legislative bills in many states.  The focus has been on introducing industry friendly legislation and at limiting environmental regulation.

Follow up:

From Propublica:

Brought into being by a legendary conservative who also founded the well-known Heritage Foundation, ALEC has been around since the early 1970s. It calls itself a "policy making program that unites members of the public and private sectors in a dynamic partnership" based on "Jeffersonian principles." Critics say it has devolved into a pay-for-play operation, where state legislators and their families get to go on industry-funded junkets and major corporations get to ghostwrite model laws and pass them on to receptive politicians.

In a multipart report this week, the Nation profiled ALEC's influence on state legislation related to privatization and anti-union efforts, fighting Obama's health care reform, privatizing public education and enacting voter ID laws, which critics say are designed to disenfranchise voters who are more likely to vote Democratic. The Nation also provides a deeper look at the financial and ideological links between the Koch brothers and ALEC.

ALEC says it’s mission is fundamentally "educational."

Corporations pay large fees to attend conferences also attended by legislators who pay very nominal amounts or receive “scholarships.

According to the LA Times, Common Cause is trying to challenge ALEC's nonprofit status. (Links are from the Propublica article.)

Sources:  Los Angeles Times, The Nation and Propublica in The Raw Story


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