The American Legislative Exchange Council has since 1973 operated in relative secrecy, avoiding scrutiny from the media and watchdog groups as it has sought to impose a one-size-fits-all corporate agenda on all fifty states.
Now, however, ALEC’s scheming to game the lawmaking process—with “model legislation” penned by corporation insiders and their legislative minions, and with resolutions that outline initiatives to protect polluters, privatize public education, break unions and undermine democracy—has been revealed.
And the nation’s premier watchdog group is asking the Internal Revenue Service to audit ALEC, an organization that counts among its alumni House Speaker John Boehner, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Ohio Governor John Kasich and other key players in the current push to restructure federal and state government with tax breaks for the rich, regulatory breaks for corporations, privatization strategies and draconian “Voter ID” laws that threaten to make it harder for millions of Americans to cast ballots.
“ALEC spends most of its time developing and distributing model bills to state elected officials, with the intent those bills be introduced and passed in as many state legislatures as possible.” argues Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “It’s time for ALEC to stop masquerading as a nonpartisan public interest group.”
A leak of documents detailing the agenda and activities of the organization, and the influence of wealthy right-wing zealots such as the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch on the organization and its agenda, made it possible for The Nation and the Center for Media and Democracy to bring ALEC out of the shadows.
One day after the details of ALEC’s activities became public, Common Cause asked the IRS to investigate evidence that suggests the group has under-reported its lobbying activities and may have engaged in federal tax law violations.
“The American Legislative Exchange Council is the mechanism through which some of America’s largest corporations are seeking to secure legislation designed to advance their bottom lines,” explains Edgar. “They have every right to do so, but they appear to be evading lobbying disclosure laws and the tax breaks they’re exploiting constitute a public subsidy for their profit-driven lobbying. That’s not right.”