Research Can Be Eye-Opening: ALEC Edition

Recently, a reader asked me to write something about ALEC–the American Legislative Exchange Council. I didn’t know much about the organization, so I consulted Dr. Google.

Here’s how ALEC’s official site describes the organization:

The American Legislative Exchange Council is America’s largest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state legislators. Comprised of nearly one-quarter of the country’s state legislators, business and thought leaders, think tank scholars and individuals, ALEC provides a unique forum for diverse groups to exchange ideas and develop real, state-based solutions that encourage growth, preserve economic security and protect hardworking taxpayers.

Sounds good. But as it turns out, a wee bit inaccurate. A significant number of ALEC members are not legislators, but corporations, and virtually all of its funding comes from those corporations, whose interests–unsurprisingly– it serves.

ALEC is neither “diverse” or non-partisan. There is one Democrat out of the 104 legislators holding “leadership” positions, and Its website listed speakers at a recent meeting: Mike Huckabee, Scott Walker and Ted Cruz. Other featured speakers at ALEC events have included: Milton Friedman, Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney, Dan Quayle, George Allen, Jessie Helms, Pete Coors, and Mitch Daniels.

The site listed people to whom ALEC has given awards: Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, George H.W. Bush, Charles and David Koch, Richard de Vos, Tommy Thompson, Gov. John Kasich (currently portrayed as the “moderate” running for President), Gov. Rick Perry, Congressman Mark Foley, and Congressman Billy Tauzin. 

So much for diverse opinions…

All that was from ALEC’s own site. Other sources described the organization as a corporate bill mill.

Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC’s operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy’s, and check out breaking news on our site.

Heavily funded by the Koch brothers, ALEC’s bills undermine environmental regulations and deny climate change; support school privatization; undercut health care reform; defund unions and limit their political influence; restrain legislatures’ abilities to raise revenue through taxes; mandate strict election laws that disenfranchise votersincrease incarceration to benefit the private prison industry, among many other issues.

The good news is that after the 2010 elections, ALEC’s success in getting GOP legislators to introduce bills written to benefit their corporate members raised the organization’s profile. In the ensuing public outrage, a number of major corporations severed their ties with ALEC. Google, Microsoft, Visa, Merck, General Motors, Walgreens, Amazon, McDonalds, Coca Cola…even Walmart has left. And the exodus continues.

I wonder how many would have left if the organization had remained in the shadows.


  1. Awful people. Amazing that they are more effective at advancing their programs than the political parties that they manipulate. Impressive and awful at the same time.

  2. Whether their numbers are large or small; how can any state Legislator be “nonpartisan”???? Just askin’

    Who among those paying attention the past few years believes ALEC when so many members and organizations are distancing themselves from this group? Being funded by the Koch brothers and the list of speakers tells the true story of their “nonpartisan” base. Maybe they believe we do not know the meaning of “nonpartisan”…maybe those who do not know are among their staunchest followers, misled by the ALEC membership listing.

  3. It seems that the list of legislators who belong is a good starting point for who not to vote for. Ever. Like the Grover Norquist tax pledge has been in the past.

    Clearly belonging to either group is an unassailable indication that the duties for which we hired you are not your highest priority.

  4. Indiana’s two legislative members of ALEC are:

    Rep. David Frizzell – District 93. He was honored as ALEC’s LEGISLATOR OF THE YEAR in 2014. He is also a member of the National Board of Directors.

    Rep. David Wolkins – District 18. He is the Indiana State Chair for ALEC.

    Go to their respective Indiana legislative pages and check out the State committees they serve on to get an idea of who they listen to and take orders from.

    The 43rd National Annual Meeting of ALEC will be held in Indianapolis in 2016.

  5. A good legislator will remain close to but independent from all his or her constituents. Businesses and educators and unions and community service groups and charities and neighborhoods and churches.

    I’ll bet the “ALEC member” and “good legislator” are oxymoronic.

  6. Correction: It was ALEC’s mission statement Representative Rachel Burgin (R-FL) forgot to remove.

  7. Let’s say that one was lazy and not too bright and therefore attracted to Congress’s too generous pension. Some of those come from the states that are perennially competing for bottom feeder position in the Union. Probably because of more than their share of lazy not too bright voters.

    The easiest path for the lazy not too bright would be politician if they had good enough hair would be to promise allegiance first and foremost to ALEC.

    That could well be the last day that they would ever have to work.

  8. ALEC deserves considerable credit for the educational predicament in Indiana.

    Representative Bob Behning (Republican representing southwest Marion County and portions of Hendricks and Morgan Counties) has also held a leadership position with ALEC. He has repeatedly introduced ALEC’s legislation to encourage state takeover of schools which can then be contracted out to for-profit, out-of-state private managers and charter schools. The ‘model legislation’ supported by Supt. Tony Bennett and Rep. Behning provided NO mechanism for the local community to EVER regain control over it’s own school buildings and instruction unless the private contractor decided on its own to give the school(s) management to local taxpayers and school boards.

    Supt. Bennett and Rep. Behning tried to expedite state takeovers of ‘failing’ schools and to consider “D” as well as “F” schools as failures. The grading system was based on a complicated system of Bennett’s design based on students’ standardized test results, but then the schools’ scores were placed on a curve. So even if every school got an A grade, the A minus schools would be considered failures. The curve guaranteed a new crop of ‘failing’ schools every year which the State Superintendent could turn over to private contractors or charter school operators. Fortunately this extreme language didn’t pass the legislature, but it keeps coming back in various forms.

    The fly in Tony Bennett-ALEC ointment was what charter schools also received grades. Despite much lower proportions of special ed. and non-English speaking students, charter schools had a higher share of lower grades than traditional public schools. While Christel DeHaan’s school received most of the publicity for getting a “C” rather than an “A” grade, her charter schools received little to no credit for enrolling proportions of special ed. and non-English speaking students commensurate with those of traditional public schools.

    The wheels were set in motion by No Child Left Behind’s unfortunate fascination with high-stakes standardized testing, but ALEC drove so-called “reforms” to a brazen destination of disrespect for local taxpayers, parents, school boards, and educators. ALEC’s language frustrated democracy and parental choice with the legislation limiting both in local school communities.

    No federal or state officeholder or bureaucrat or national testing company will ever know more about a child’s instructional progress than the child’s teacher and parents. But ALEC disagrees and its national legislative leaders are Indiana’s as well.

  9. Oh, Nancy, your list is SOOOOOoooooooo short. These are the current members–
    Indiana Legislators with ALEC Ties
    House of Representatives

    Rep. Robert Behning (R-91), Former ALEC State Chairman, 1996-2004 [1]
    Rep. Brian Bosma (R-88)[2], ALEC Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force Member[3] and Civil Justice Task Force Member[4]
    Rep. Timothy Brown (R-41)[2][5], ALEC Health and Human Services Task Force Member[6]
    Rep. C. Woody Burton (R-58)[5], ALEC Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force Member[7]
    Rep. Bill J. Davis (R-33)[2], ALEC Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force Member[8]
    Rep. Sean Eberhart (R-57)[9]
    Rep. William C. Friend (R-23), ALEC Civil Justice Task Force Member [10]
    Rep. David Frizzell (R-93)[5], ALEC boardmember,[11] ALEC Health and Human Services Task Force Member,[2][12] ALEC State Legislator of the Year 2014[13]
    Rep. Douglas L. Gutwein (R-16), ALEC Public Safety and Elections Task Force Member [14]
    Rep. Eric Koch (R-65)[2], Telecommunications and Information Technology Task Force Member[15]
    Rep. Phyllis J. Pond (R-85), ALEC Public Safety and Elections Task Force Member [14]
    Rep. Thomas E. Saunders (R-54), ALEC International Relations Task Force Member[16]
    Rep. Mike Speedy (R-90)[5]
    Rep. Jerry Torr (R-39)[9]
    Rep. P. Eric Turner (R-32)[2], ALEC International Relations Task Force Member[17]
    Rep. Heath VanNatter (R-38)[5]
    Rep. Tim Wesco (R-21)[5]
    Rep. David Wolkins (R-18)[2][5], State Chairman,[18] Co-Chair of Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force[15] and 2011 ALEC State Legislator of the Year[19]


    Sen. Jim Banks (R-17), ALEC Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force Member [20]
    Sen. Jim Buck (R-21)[5], ALEC State Chairman and Member of the Board of Directors [21] Member of ALEC’s Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force. [22]
    Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-7), Majority Whip, ALEC Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force Member[23]
    Sen. Luke Kenley (R-20) [24]
    Sen. Sue Landske (R-6) [24]
    Sen. Jean Leising (R-42), ALEC Health and Human Services Task Force Member[25]
    Sen. Pat Miller (R-32) [24]
    Sen. Frank Mrvan, Jr. (D-1), ALEC Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force Alternate[26]
    Sen. Carlin J. Yoder (R-12), ALEC Education Task Force Member[27]
    and here are the ‘retired’ legislators:
    Former Representatives

    Former Rep. Richard A. Dodge (R-51), ALEC Civil Justice Task Force Member [28]
    Former Rep. and Speaker of the House and 2012 Democratic Candidate for Governor, John R. Gregg [29]
    Former Rep. and Speaker of the House, Paul Mannweiler
    Former Rep. Richard McClain (R-24), ALEC Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force Member[30] & International Relations Task Force Member[31]
    Former Rep. Win Moses (D-81) [24]
    Former Rep. Cindy J. Noe (R-87)[2], ALEC Education Task Force Member[32] , spoke on “Enacting a Comprehensive K-12 Education Reform Agenda” at the 2011 ALEC Annual Meeting on August 3, 2011[33][34]
    Former Rep. William Ruppell ( R-22)[15][2]
    Former Rep. Peggy Welch (D-60)[35]
    Former Rep. David Yarde, II (R-52), ALEC Education Task Force Member[36]

    Former Senators

    Former Sen. and Senate President Pro Tepore, Bob Garton (D-41)[29]
    Former Sen. and Senate Majority Leader, Joseph Harrison [29]

    and here is where I found these gems:

  10. Come on, folks. The Democrats have their legislative exchange bodies. You didn’t think the Kipper wrote his gun ban all by himself, did you?

    Sheila’s topics follow closely on the heels of Democratic talking points memos distributed to advocacy agents a day or two prior.

  11. I first heard of ALEC from a story on NPR. My understanding since that time is that it originally was meant to promote corporate interests at the state levels, but turned into a hornets nest of right wing lobbying for a wish list of conservative legislation. It was their meddling in Stand Your Ground laws and the subsequent killing of Trayvon Martin that caused a number of corporations to withdraw from ALEC.

  12. Gopper, I was hoping for something specific from you on a Democrat equivalent to ALEC. As you didn’t I assume that your post was typical conservative hopeful – liberals are every bit as incompetent as we are.

    Of course the good of your position is the recognition of conservative incompetence and the bad, that liberals are as incompetent, is fantasy.

    So it’s hard to argue with.

  13. ALEC of course is an oligarchs dream. As effective as them owning a 24/7/365 mass media opinion outlet or websites for the same purpose. The “1984” Ministry of Truth incarnate.

  14. “Gopper, I was hoping for something specific from you on a Democrat equivalent to ALEC. ”

    What an utterly bizarre and silly statement.

    What was I obligated to write?

  15. When I google “democratic legislative exchange bodies,” all I get is ALEC. Please name one.

  16. Goober er Gopper – If you are going to claim the Democrats have their own legislative bodies you had better be able to name them. You have never provided any factual evidence to back up any of your BS claims. If you can’t name the legislative bodies you claim to know about, then they exist only in your twisted mind.

    Oh, and as I have said before: Stop being a coward by hiding behind a made-up name. Man up!

  17. Joy,

    If you want to claim that every Democratic legislator personally writes every word of legislation she introduces, go ahead.

    Those reading this can use a good laugh.

  18. Ronald; I hope the word “was” means that he is no longer a member – I had planned to vote for him – again.

  19. I told my state senator that I could not vote for someone who is a member of ALEC. But I got nowhere. There needs to be loud and frequent protests by voters to get the attention of these legislators who represent the 1%. After all they were elected to represent us.

  20. It is outrageous that Indiana law (probably written by ALEC) specifically excludes ALEC from the definition of “lobbyist.” See Ind. Code 2-7-1-10(b)(4).

    Bruce Hugon

  21. ALEC is no more than a new name for an old game. It is the destroyer of nations and the slaughter of peoples. It seems to have spread down from the North in the first millennium and infected all of Europe. The climate of the Mediterranean seems to have tempered Iberia but not much else. Rome began a slaughter which persists unto our days.

    DeMolay: the original name?

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