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.Comments