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|American Legislative Exchange Council|
|Motto||"Limited Government, Free Markets, Federalism"|
|Type||Tax exempt, non-profit organization, 501(c)(3)|
|Part of a series on|
in the United States
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a 501(c)(3) American organization composed of legislators, businesses and foundations which produces model legislation for state legislatures and says it promotes free-market and conservative ideas. According to the organization's website, members share a common belief that "government closest to the people" is "fundamentally more effective, more just, and a better guarantor of freedom than the distant, bloated federal government in Washington, D.C." In a Dec. 2011 opinion piece critical of ALEC which appeared in The Nation magazine, John Nichols described ALEC as a "collaboration between multinational corporations and conservative state legislators."
ALEC provides a forum for state legislator and corporate members to collaborate on "model bills"—draft legislation which the members would like to become law. Some of the model bills are then brought back to their respective home states and introduced by ALEC's legislative members. Approximately 200 per year become law. ALEC has produced model legislation on issues such as reducing corporate regulation and taxation, tightening voter identification rules, streamlining or minimizing environmental protections (depending on how one looks at it), and promoting gun rights. ALEC also serves as a networking tool among state legislators, allowing them to research the handling and "best practices" of policy in other states.
ALEC's membership list and the origin of its model bills are kept secret and they have been criticized for this. BusinessWeek wrote that "part of ALEC's mission is to present industry-backed legislation as grass-roots work."
ALEC first came into being in Chicago as the "Conservative Caucus of State Legislators", a project initiated by Mark Rhoads, an assistant to an Illinois state senator.[non-primary source needed] Conservative legislators felt the word "conservative" was unpopular with the public at the time, however, and the organization was renamed as the American Legislative Exchange Council. In 1975, under the auspices of the American Conservative Union, ALEC registered as a federal non-profit agency.
Conservative activist Paul Weyrich helped the new group find a meeting room. Henry Hyde, who later became a U.S. Congressman, and Lou Barnett, who later became National Political Director of Ronald Reagan's Political Action Committee, also helped to found ALEC. Early members included a number of state and local politicians who went on to statewide or national office, including Bob Kasten and Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin; John Engler of Michigan; Terry Branstad of Iowa, and John Kasich of Ohio. Several members of Congress were also involved in the organization during its early years, including Sen. John Buckley and Rep. Jack Kemp of New York, Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, and Rep. Phil Crane of Illinois. Duane Parde served as the executive director from December 1996 to January 2006.
ALEC currently has more than 2,000 legislative members representing all 50 states, amounting to nearly one-third of all sitting legislators, as well as more than 85 members of Congress and 14 sitting or former governors who are considered "alumni". The vast majority of ALEC's legislative members belong to the Republican Party. ALEC also claims approximately 300 corporate, foundation, and other private-sector members. The chairmanship of ALEC is a rotating position, with a new legislator appointed to the position each year. The current chair of ALEC is David Frizzell, a member of the Indiana House of Representatives.
Day-to-day operations are run from ALEC's Washington, D.C. office by an executive director and a staff of approximately 30. ALEC By-Laws specify that, "...full membership shall be open to persons dedicated to the preservation of individual liberty, basic American values and institutions, productive free enterprise, and limited representative government, who support the purposes of ALEC, and who serve, or formerly serve, as members of a state or territorial legislature, the United States Congress, or similar bodies outside the United States."
In addition to the staff and members, ALEC has a board of scholars that advises and alerts the staff and members to upcoming issues. The board is composed of economics consultant Arthur Laffer, economics writer Stephen Moore, public law policy expert Victor Schwartz, economics professor Richard Vedder, and public policy activist Bob Williams.
Common Cause states that ALEC is comprised of nine "task forces": 1) Public Safety and Elections; 2) Civil Justice; 3) Education; 4) Energy, Environment and Agriculture; 5) Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development; 6) Telecommunications and Information Technology; 7) Health and Human Services; 8) Tax and Fiscal Policy; and 9) International Relations. Public and private sector members comprise each of the task forces—the public sector members are state legislators and the private sector members typically corporate lobbyists or sometimes right wing think tank representatives. These task forces generate the "model" legislation, which is then taken back to the states by ALEC’s legislative members.
According to Common Cause, ALEC receives 98% of its funding from corporations and foundations and 2% comes from membership dues paid by legislators and miscellaneous income. In 2010 NPR reported that tax records showed that corporations had collectively paid as much as $6 million a year.
- ALEC publishes a monthly magazine for its members entitled Inside ALEC.
- In the field of education policy, ALEC authors the Report Card on American Education.
- On state economic competitiveness, ALEC has published, Rich States, Poor States, now in its fourth edition.
ALEC mission statement language included in bills 
In November 2011, Florida State Representative Rachel Burgin (R), introduced legislation to call on the federal government to reduce its corporate tax rate. The text still included the boilerplate "WHEREAS, it is the mission of the American Legislative Exchange Council to advance Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty..." The bill was quickly withdrawn, the phrase removed, and was resubmitted as HM717.
Florida 'Stand Your Ground' law 
Animal rights 
"The Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act," a bill drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council and used as a model in some of about a dozen U.S. state legislatures that have proposed such legislation, makes it against the law to film, videotape or make photographs on livestock farms in order to "defame the facility or its owner". People found to be in violation (for example, with a cellphone) would be put on a "terrorist registry."
Critics of ALEC 
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ALEC's membership list and the origin of its model bills were not disclosed; BusinessWeek wrote that "part of ALEC's mission is to present industry-backed legislation as grass-roots work." ALEC's role in drafting and distributing model legislation through its lawmaker members became public knowledge as the result of a Freedom of Information Act filing and a leak of ALEC's internal library of model legislation, resulting in scrutiny and controversy over the group's role in the legislative process. The New York Times wrote that "special interests effectively turn ALEC’s lawmaker members into stealth lobbyists, providing them with talking points, signaling how they should vote, and collaborating on bills affecting hundreds of issues like school vouchers and tobacco taxes." Progressive advocacy groups such as Common Cause questioned ALEC's non-profit status, alleging that the Council engaged in lobbying. ALEC responded by denying that it engaged in lobbying, and arguing that liberal groups were attacking ALEC because "they don't have a comparable group that is as effective as ALEC in enacting policies into law."
Bill Moyers, Moyers & Company 
ALEC was the subject of the September 29, 2012 edition of Moyers & Company hosted by Bill Moyers. In the report, Moyers traced the progress of ALEC model legislation through several legislatures. He called it
"an organization hiding in plain sight, yet one of the most influential and powerful in American politics... They were smart and understood something very important: that they might more easily get what they wanted from state capitals than from Washington, DC. So they started putting their money in places like Raleigh, North Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; Phoenix, Arizona; and Madison, Wisconsin."
"ALEC is a corporate dating service for lonely legislators and corporate special interests that eventually the relationship culminates with some special interest legislation and hopefully that lives happily ever after as the ALEC model. Unfortunately what’s excluded from that equation is the public."
Arizona Assistant Minority Leader Steve Farley proposed an ALEC Accountability Act to force legislators to disclose their ALEC ties.
I just want to emphasize it’s fine for corporations to be involved in the process. Corporations have the right to present their arguments, but they don’t have the right to do it secretly. They don’t have the right to lobby people and not register as lobbyists. They don’t have the right to take people away on trips, convince them of it, send them back here, and then nobody has seen what’s gone on and how that legislator had gotten that idea and where is it coming from. All I’m asking... is to make sure that all of those expenses are reported as if they are lobbying expenses and all those gifts that legislators received are reported as if they’re receiving gifts from lobbyists. So the public can find out and make up their own minds about who is influencing what."
Arizona legislation on immigrants 
According to a 2010 National Public Radio report, the Corrections Corporation of America was present at an ALEC meeting where Arizona State Senator Rusell Pearce was present, as well as several dozen others, and where model legislation concerning immigration was presented. According to NPR, the legislation requires police to arrest immigrants who fail to show they are documented. Michael Bowman, ALEC’s senior director of policy, said in regard to model legislation in general: "Most of the bills are written by outside sources and companies, attorneys, [and legislative] counsels."  NPR later stated: "This story did not mean to suggest that the Corrections Corporation of America was the catalyst behind the law or that it took a corporate position in favor of the legislation." 
The Nation; Publication of leaked ALEC model bills 
On July 13, 2011, the Center for Media and Democracy in cooperation with The Nation posted more than 800 pieces of ALEC's model legislation created over a 30-year period, and created a web project, ALEC Exposed to host these model bills. It contains dozens of lists of ALEC politicians, ALEC corporations, and ALEC bills moving in their states. Concurrently, The Nation issued a special edition of its magazine devoted to commentary on the bills published online.
On July 21, 2011, Terry Gross of NPR interviewed The Nation's journalist John Nichols, who co-authored the series of ALEC articles. According to Nichols, legislation authored by ALEC has as a goal, "the advancement of an agenda that seems to be dictated at almost every turn by multinational corporations. It's to clear the way for lower taxes, less regulation, a lot of protection against lawsuits, [and] ALEC is very, very active in [the] opening up of areas via privatization for corporations to make more money, particularly in places you might not usually expect like public education."
Common Cause challenge of ALEC tax-exempt status 
Common Cause, which describes itself as non-partisan, has filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service, objecting to ALEC's tax status as a non-profit organization and alleging that lobbying accounts for more than 60% of its expenditures. ALEC denies lobbying. Reporting on the allegations, Bloomberg Businessweek compared ALEC's work to that of lobbyists, noting, "part of ALEC's mission is to present industry-backed legislation as grass-roots work", and that being a non-profit rather than a lobby group allows deductibility of membership dues, and the freedom not to disclose the names of legislators who attend its educational seminars or the executives who give presentations to those legislators. ALEC responded that they do not engage in lobbying.
Fracking and industry-sponsored "right to know" laws 
An April 2012 article in the New York Times entitled "Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist" stated that ALEC legislation having to do with so-called public "right to know" laws regarding what fluids are used in "fracking" (hydraulic fracturing), has been promoted as a victory for consumers’ right to know about potential drinking water contaminants; but the bill has "loopholes that would allow energy companies to withhold the names of certain fluid contents, for reasons including that they have been deemed trade secrets."
Color of Change 
On December 8, 2011, the advocacy group Color of Change announced a call to boycott ALEC corporate members for their alleged support of voter ID laws. On April 4, 2012, after the Trayvon Martin shooting, Color of Change changed the boycott to focus on The Coca-Cola Company for its support of ALEC and by implication, their involvement in Stand your Ground. Within hours, Coca-Cola announced it was ending its relationship with ALEC in apparent response to the threatened boycott. Over the subsequent two weeks approximately a dozen corporations or foundations including the restaurant chain Wendy's, Kraft Foods, McDonald's, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the medical insurance group Blue Cross and Blue Shield had dropped support of ALEC. ALEC responded with a "Statement by ALEC on the Coordinated Intimidation Campaign Against Its Members". By May 31, the list of corporations that had withdrawn support included Apple, Procter & Gamble and Wal-mart.
On April 17, 2012, ALEC announced that it was disbanding its Public Safety and Elections Task Force, which provided model bills for voter ID requirements and "stand your ground" gun laws. On April 18, the National Center for Public Policy Research announced the creation of a voter ID task force to replace the one discontinued by ALEC. The Martin shooting and subsequent boycott was described as a catalyst for ALEC to shift focus from social issues to economic ones.
Assertions about ALEC's origin and funding 
In 2012, Walter Mondale, former Democratic Vice President of the United States, and Arne Carlson, former Republican governor of Minnesota, referred in an op-ed piece to the political activities of the Koch family and ALEC, saying:
"[ALEC] is the creation of the Koch brothers who amassed their fortunes in oil and who live in Florida. The goal of ALEC is to influence legislators across the nation."
Common cause 
In early Oct. 2012, Common Cause and the Center for Media and Democracy filed a lawsuit under a Wisconsin open records law alleging five Republican lawmakers did not disclose whether they had searched personal email accounts for correspondence with ALEC. In one case, a Wisconsin legislative representative had requested of ALEC in June 2012 that all correspondence be sent to his personal account.
William Cronon 
||This section contains information of unclear or questionable importance or relevance to the article's subject matter. Please help improve this article by clarifying or removing superfluous information. (May 2012)|
In 2011, William Cronon, a historian at the University of Wisconsin created a blog during the protests over the state's controversial 2011 budget bill with an entry about the history of conservative groups, including ALEC, and alleging a link between that budget bill and ALEC. Cronon said that ALEC's activities should be examined more closely and that the organization should conduct its business with greater transparency. The Wisconsin Republican Party then made a request through Wisconsin's Open Records rules to obtain e-mail messages sent to or from Cronon's university account, and that of other apparent union supporters who are state employees, containing certain keywords which "include[d] Republican, Scott Walker, recall, collective bargaining, rally, union, the names of 10 Republican lawmakers, the acronyms of two state public-employee unions, and the names of those two unions' leaders." Paul Krugman and the American Historical Association defended Cronon against what they characterized as intimidation by Wisconsin Republicans. Bill Lueders, an advocate of transparency and Wisconsin's open records rules, said, "I'm pleased to see the Republicans making use of the open records law because they are as entitled to it as everyone else in the state."
Outside the United States 
In July 2012, The Guardian ran an article reporting that ALEC had taken action to oppose plain cigarette packaging laws outside the United States. It is contacting governments which are planning to introduce bans on cigarette branding, including the UK and Australia.
Karla Jones, a taskforce director for ALEC, told participants at a meeting that proposed laws in Canada, the UK and Australia would prohibit branding of tobacco products. She said that the brands were those corporations' "most valuable asset." ALEC wrote to the Australian government stating that US legislators opposed the requirements for plain packaging. ALEC has stated that generic cigarettes increase cigarette consumption, rather than reducing it.
See also 
- Council of State Governments
- National Conference of State Legislatures
- State Government Affairs Council
- "History". American Legislative Exchange Council. 2012. Retrieved April 21, 2012.
- Kumar, Anita (December 27, 2011). "Corporate interests fuel group's desire to shape Va. legislation, critics say". Washington Post. Retrieved July 16, 2012.
- Hooker, Brad (September 12, 2011). "Corporations Represented on ALEC's Private Enterprise Board Are Big Spenders in Washington". OpenSecrets.org. Retrieved March 28, 2012.
- McIntire, Mike (April 21, 2012). "Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist". The New York Times. Retrieved May 15, 2012.
- "ALEC Exposed" (PDF). Granite State Progress. 2012. Retrieved March 28, 2012.
- Nichols, John. December 9, 2011. The Koch Brothers, ALEC and the Savage Assault on Democracy The Nation. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
- Greeley, Brendan (May 3, 2012). "ALEC's Secrets Revealed; Corporations Flee". Businessweek. Bloomberg. Retrieved June 2, 2012.
- Kraft, Michael E.; Kamieniecki, Sheldon (2007). Business and environmental policy : corporate interests in the American political system. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. p. 276. ISBN 978-0-262-61218-0. "American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) provide[s] direct assistance to state legislators and firms eager to minimize any state government engagement in environmental protection. ALEC's membership base includes nearly one-third of all sitting state legislators and most of its resources are derived from corporations and trade associations. It offers regular conferences and training sessions but is perhaps best known for drafting model legislation that can easily be adopted by an individual state and introduced into a legislature."
- Salant, Jonathan (April 23, 2012). "Republican Group Subject of IRS Complaint on Lobbying". BusinessWeek. Retrieved May 29, 2012.
- "Duane Parde, president". About NTU: Staff. National Taxpayers Union. 2009. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
- Bishop, Bill (2009). The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded American Is Tearing Us Apart. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 203. ISBN 0547525192.
- Schoenwald, Jonathan M. (2002). A Time for Choosing: The Rise of Modern American Conservatism. Oxford University Press. p. 241. ISBN 0195157265.
- Lichtman, Allan J. (2009). White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement. Grove Press. p. 318. ISBN 0802144209.
- Barnett, Louis W. [Gov. Jerry Brown's Destruction of the California Judiciary] (2010)
- "Board of Directors". American Legislative Exchange Council. 2012. Retrieved April 21, 2012.
- "Meet Our Staff". American Legislative Exchange Council. 2012. Retrieved April 21, 2012.
- "ALEC's 2009 IRS Form 990". Scribd.com. 2012-03-01. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
- "Board of Scholars". American Legislative Exchange Council. 2012. Retrieved April 21, 2012.
- "Inside ALEC". American Legislative Exchange Council. 2012. Retrieved April 21, 2012.
- Brown, Laura (September 3, 2010). "American Legislative Exchange Council Study Offers Recipe for Education Reform and Asks Adults to Take the Challenge". HawaiiReporter. Retrieved April 7, 2012.
- "Report Card on American Education: A State-by-State Analysis". YouTube. 2009-09-24. Retrieved 2011-03-29.
- Rich States Poor States. American Legislative Exchange Council.
- Seitz-Wald, Alex (February 2, 2012). "Oops: Florida Republican Forgets To Remove ALEC Mission Statement From Boilerplate Anti-Tax Bill". ThinkProgress. Retrieved April 7, 2012.
- "HM717: House Memorial" (PDF). Florida House of Representatives. 2012. Retrieved April 7, 2012.
- University of California-Irvine School of Law
- Amy Goodman; Mike Elk (2012-04-18). "ALEC Drops Push for Voter ID, Stand Your Ground Laws After Public Outcry Sparks Corporate Exodus". Democracy Now!. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
- Ryan J. Reilly, "ALEC, NRA Pushed 'Stand Your Ground' Legislation At Center Of Trayvon Martin Killing" TPMMuckraker
- Oppel Jr., Richard A. (April 6, 2013). "Taping of Farm Cruelty Is Becoming the Crime". The New York Times. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
- Bill Moyers takes on ALEC - In The Aggregate – Arizona's political blogs
- Full Show: United States of ALEC | Moyers & Company | BillMoyers.com For a written transcript, click on "Full Transcript" under the photogragh.
- Shaping State Laws With Little Scrutiny, National Public Radio, Laura Sullivan, October 29, 2010. "...the prison company didn't have to file a lobbying report or disclose any gifts to legislators..."
-  NPR clarification
- Graves, Lisa (July 13, 2011). "About ALEC Exposed".
- Graves, Lisa (July 15, 2011). ALEC Exposed: State Legislative Bills Drafted by Secretive Corporate-Lawmaker Coalition. Interview with Amy Goodman. Democracy Now!. New York. http://www.democracynow.org/2011/7/15/alec_exposed_state_legislative_bills_drafted. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
- Nichols, John (July 13, 2011). "ALEC Exposed".
- The Center for Media and Democracy. ALEC Exposed. Project website. Accessed September 23, 2011.
- SourceWatch. ALEC Politicians. SourceWatch page. Accessed September 23, 2011.
- SourceWatch. ALEC Corporations. SourceWatch page. Accessed September 23, 2011.
- The Center for Media and Democracy. ALEC Exposed Community Portal. Project website. Accessed September 23, 2011.
- The Nation Magazine. ALEC Exposed. Magazine website. Accessed September 23, 2011.
- "Who's Really Writing States' Legislation?". Fresh Air, WHYY. NPR. July 21, 2011. Retrieved April 7, 2012.
- "About Common Cause".
- Advocacy group Common Cause files IRS complaint against conservative legislative group ALEC[dead link]
- "Civil Rights Group Launches Campaign Urging Corporations to Stop Bankrolling ALEC and its Role in Voter Suppression". ColorOfChange. 2011-12-08. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
- Bedard, Paul (April 4, 2012). "Coke caves in face of Democratic boycott threat". The Washington Examiner. Retrieved April 9, 2012.
- McVeigh, Karen (April 6, 2012). "Coca-Cola and PepsiCo sever ties with group behind stand-your-ground laws". The Guardian. Retrieved April 9, 2012.
- Kroll, Andy. "The Gates Foundation Is Done Funding ALEC". Mother Jones. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- Kroll, Andy (April 10, 2012). "McDonald's Says It Has Dumped ALEC". Mother Jones (magazine).
- "Reed Elsevier, Wendy's drop conservative group" Reuters
- Peter Overby, Companies Flee Group Behind 'Stand Your Ground' National Public Radio April 13, 2012
- Jeremy Duda, "American Traffic Solutions leaving ALEC, joining APS" April 13, 2012 AZ Capitol Times
- Julian Pecquet, "Blue Cross Blue Shield quits conservative legislative organization ALEC"
- "Statement by ALEC on the Coordinated Intimidation Campaign Against Its Members".
- "Wal-Mart Leaves ALEC, 22nd Company To Exit Conservative Lobbying Group - International Business Times". Ibtimes.com. 2012-05-31. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
- Sorensen, Adam (April 17, 2012). "ALEC Scraps Gun Law, Voter-ID Task Force". Time.
- "New Voter Identification Task Force Announced". National Center for Public Policy Research. April 18, 2012. Retrieved April 21, 2012.
- Ryan J. Reilly, "Conservative Group With Abramoff Scandal Ties Picks Up Voter ID Issue Where ALEC Left Off" Talking Points Memo
- Lichtblau, Eric (April 17, 2012). "Martin Death Spurs Group to Readjust Policy Focus". The New York Times. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
- Froomkin, Dan (April 17, 2012). "ALEC Retreats Under Pressure, Ends Push For 'Stand Your Ground,' Voter ID Laws". Huffington Post. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
- Mondale, Walter and Carlson, Arne (June 20, 2012). "Walter Mondale, Arne Carlson: Reject voter ID measure". Star Tribune. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
- Fitzgerald, Alison (2011-07-21). "Koch, Exxon Mobil Among Corporations Helping Write State Laws". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
- Wis. lawmakers sued over emails with conservative group, Chicago Tribune (AP), October 2, 2012.
- Groups sue 5 GOP lawmakers over email records, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Patrick Marley, Oct. 1, 2012.
- Grafton, Anthony (28 March 2011). "Wisconsin: The Cronon Affair". The New Yorker.
- Kelleher, James (12 March 2011). "Up to 100,000 protest Wisconsin law curbing unions". Reuters.
- Who's Really Behind Recent Republican Legislation in Wisconsin and Elsewhere? (Hint: It Didn't Start Here), The Scholar as Citizen blog post, 15 March 2011, by Prof. William Cronon.
- Shea, Christopher (28 March 2011). "William Cronon vs. Wisconsin Republicans". Wall Street Journal.
- Schmidt, Peter (25 March 2011). "Wisconsin GOP Seeks E-Mails of a Madison Professor Who Criticized the Governor". The Chronicle of Higher Education.
- Krugman, Paul (March 27, 2011). "American Thought Police". The New York Times.
- "AHA Today: AHA Deplores Effort to Intimidate William Cronon". American Historical Association. March 27, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-07.
- Sulzberger, A.G. (March 26, 2011). "Wisconsin Professor's E-Mails Are Target of G.O.P. Records Request". New York Times.
- Jamie Doward. "US free market group tries to halt sales of cigarettes in plain packets in UK | Society | The Observer". Guardian. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
- Jamie Doward, "US free market group tries to halt sales of cigarettes in plain packets in UK" The Observer, Saturday 14 July 2012