Braun, Banks And ALEC

A reader has provided me with a copy of a letter sent by sitting Senators and Congresspersons–all Republican, so far as I could tell– to ALEC. ALEC stands for American Legislative Exchange Council. Among the signatories of that missive were Indiana culture warriors/Christian Nationalists, Mike Braun and Jim Banks.

The letter read in its entirety as follows:

Dear Founders, Leadership, Members, and Employees of the American Legislative Exchange Council,

We write to express our sincere congratulations as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Since its inception in 1973, ALEC has remained a stalwart defender of limited government, free markets and a strong federalist system.

During its 50 years, ALEC has grown to become America’s largest voluntary membership organization of state lawmakers. Today, ALEC members represent more than 60 million Americans and provide jobs to more than 30 million people in the United States.

A true laboratory of democracy, ALEC enables lawmakers to share ideas and experiences with their peers from across the states and develops the most trusted policy solutions to the diverse challenges facing our communities.

We know that many of the critical policy questions of our time will be decided in the states: expanding educational opportunities for our children, unleashing principled entrepreneurship, protecting taxpayers, and lifting people out of poverty. As Members of Congress, we look to the states to inform our policy decisions. ALEC and its members provide us with valuable research and feedback which helps us build on previous successes or avoid unnecessary consequences.

Nearly 100 Members of Congress are ALEC Alumni, and they bring to Washington, DC the collaborative lessons they learned in their state legislatures. Noting that ALEC members adhere to the motto, “limited government, free markets and federalism,” ALEC Alumni in Congress work together to help make Washington more effective and accountable to the American people.

Finally, as we work to reduce federal regulations and interference in Americans’ everyday lives, we can confidently cede statutory power to the jurisdiction of the states, knowing ALEC members stand at the ready to lead the charge. We celebrate the generations of experience and success ALEC and its members have contributed at all levels of government, and we look forward to another 50 years of partnership in providing policy solutions for all Americans.

Here’s what Common Cause says about ALEC and those “trusted policy solutions:”

American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a corporate lobbying group that brings together corporate lobbyists and politicians to draft and vote — as equals and behind closed doors — on “model bills” that often benefit the corporations’ bottom line. These model bills, drafted without public input, are then introduced in state legislatures across the country, usually with ALEC’s involvement concealed. ALEC and ALEC-member corporations often pay for legislators’ travel expenses to go to ALEC conferences; when ALEC or the corporations are not paying for these so-called “scholarships,” the expense is often passed on to the taxpayers. ALEC lobbies on a variety  of issues, including taxes and budgets, climate change and the environment, workers’ rights and collective bargaining, healthcare, telecommunications policy, election laws, and education.

Common Cause has filed a “whistleblower” complaint against ALEC with the IRS, and provided evidence that the group has violated its tax-exempt status by operating as a lobby while claiming to be a charity.  (ALEC’s purported “charitable” status allows its corporate supporters to take the millions spent each year to support ALEC’s lobbying as tax deductions–meaning that we taxpayers are subsidizing that lobbying.)

After a raft of very unflattering stories about the organization emerged in 2011, a number of major companies left ALEC. Among those who remain are Altria, Koch Industries, UPS, FedEx, Pfizer, Duke Energy, Charter Communications, Comcast, and Anheuser-Busch.

I have written previously about ALEC–especially about its “leadership role” in gerrymandering, and in assisting the efforts of White Supremacists.The latter post quoted an article from The Guardian about a report by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and other civic organizations, charging ALEC with propagating White Supremacy.

In one of the sharpest criticisms yet leveled at the controversial “bill mill”, the authors warn that “conservative and corporate interests have captured our political process to harness profit, further entrench white supremacy in the law, and target the safety, human rights and self-governance of marginalized communities”

ALEC’s influence is sickening–but it shouldn’t be surprising. Braun and Banks–both endorsed by Trump–are full-throated devotees of and advocates for ALEC’s agenda.

Voters need to see to it that both of them are retired from public office in November.


  1. One reason it shouldn’t be surprising is that it frees people like Braun and Banks from exerting any energy to think about real policy positions as well as the hard work of writing legislation. Cookie cutter cruelty!

  2. Wait! Monied interests have captured our political process? I’m shocked. You hear me? I’m shocked.

  3. Since its inception in 1973, ALEC has remained a stalwart defender of limited government, free markets, and a strong federalist system.”

    Why? What’s wrong with our Constitution as a guide?

  4. The term “strong federalist system” is camouflage for a collection of banana republics, each of them doing their own things, which in the past involved outright slavery of large numbers of people, and today, involves the gerrymandering of voting districts so that the votes cast by a substantial number of its residents don’t amount to anything.

  5. Why is anyone surprised at this confirmation of corruption? It’s what Republicans have done since the day Lincoln was shot. ALEC is the latest mechanism to justify greed, backwardness and more greed. The “agenda” is what ALEC/Koch Industries pays these idiots to enact. The “letter” is merely another ass-kissing exercise by the puppets to the puppeteers.


  6. Vernon is so right about the letter being an ass-kissing exercise. Banks want to be the next IN Senator and Braun wants to be the next governor. How much more money in campaign donations will this letter be worth?

  7. It’s disgusting what our government politicians are doing anymore with all of these so-called non-profit groups. We must end Citizen’s United and make organizations like this disappear. We must get control of our government and actually have them do something besides raise money for themselves every day. Millionaires should be disqualified to represent us. We need to rewrite the constitution so that it actually represents us little people. So many problems, so much misinformation. Like Vernon says, I’m glad I’m old but I’m willing to step up for the fight.

  8. The last time Eric Koch, or any Republican representative, attended a “Meet Your Legislator” hosted by the League of Women Voters of Brown County, a question was submitted asking if ALEC or the ALEC corporation that originally authored a bill could be added as co-author. Eric said that it would be too complicated, left prior to the end of the session and has never accepted another invitation. Only when the Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Bloomington League, did representatives feel they should speak in public again. Taxation without representation?

  9. How can anyone be in favor of reduced government and not be pro-choice? It is inconsistent.

  10. So, where is the ALEC parallel working for equality of opportunity, fair pay/taxes, right to form unions, strong public education that teaches critical thinking, etc..? NOPE. Our side too busy with identity politics, ideology…

  11. The Koch’s know that energy supply and distribution ought to be considered infrastructure and should be provided by government. That’s what drives ALEC, family wealth, just like what drove King George of England before the Revolution.

    After all, both families were entitled.

  12. What I will say is “Knowledge is Power”. The more us regular people can share our knowledge with each other and weed out “fact” from “fiction” the more we will have discussions to start solving these issues. That being said. I enjoy this blog for exactly that reason and am glad of the discussion that goes on here.

    Personally, I think its important to teach those who lean Democratic or Independent where to put their money so that it’s not just funneled over to the rich and privileged.

  13. Several years ago (2016?)when Indianapolis was host to ALEC’s national convention, I participated in a protest outside of the JW Marriott.

    Attached is a WTHR report on the convention and who among the Indiana General Assembly were member/attendees.

    Current State Senator Jim Buck (R), District 21, has served as the national chair for the organization.

    Our current General Assembly super-majority owes most of its power to that lobbying organization. The idea that the group purports to be “lifting people out of poverty” would be laughable if it was not such hypocrisy.

  14. I strongly recommend that everybody watch the entire 13 1/2 minutes of the Jim Banks interview. It may be difficult to keep from barfing, but everybody needs to see just how duplicitous this man is.

  15. We all know that the Koch’s father got his start by selling oil to the Nazis in WWll. They had to know at that time that was an inhumane regime, but they were making money and that was all they cared about. Their intent hasn’t changed and profit without scruples or interference from government is their goal. Koch’s network Alec is acting like a charitable organization (what a crock) and polishing up and veiling their message to get support from some naive representatives influenced by glitzy events and promises of good things power/money for themselves and their constituents.
    I remember when Braun ran for senate in 2016 and said he was running to “promote trump’s agenda” and he apparently hasn’t changed his mind even after much corruption has been exposed there. That’s so wrong in so many ways. I hate the thought of Braun being Governor of Indiana and promoting the sovereign intent of Alec and the Koch regime!

  16. Lester – you are partly right, but our side does have organizational support for all of those things that you mentioned, just in 792 different organizations.

  17. Thank you, Sheila!! Bill Moyer did an expose of ALEC more the 20 years ago. So pleased others know that Indiana’s own Sen (R) James Buck, Dist 21, Majority Leader emeritus, is the national chair of ALEC. He is also Chair, Environmentals Affairs, Homeland Security and Transportation, Judiciary: Rules and Legislative Procedure; Veterans and the Military which should make us all think. Perhaps IndyMIRROR, the Statehouse File, or other local news source, would write a well researched article. With hope, Ann

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