What is ALEC?
The American Legislative Exchange Council is a nearly 40-year-old conservative nonprofit that connects members of the business community with elected state lawmakers. According to its website, ALEC “works to advance the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise, limited government and federalism at the state level.”
Who belongs to ALEC?
ALEC says it has over 2000 dues-paying state legislators among its membership. Representatives of private interests, such as corporations and lobbying organizations, and policy analysts are also ALEC members.
Who funds ALEC?
ALEC’s legislative members pay dues of $100 for two years, but more than 98 percent of ALEC’s funding comes from other sources, such as corporate donations. Corporate members pay dues that range from $7,000 to $25,000, and additional fees to participate on task forces. ALEC’s website says that no single donor provides more than 5 percent of ALEC’s revenues.
What does ALEC do?
ALEC develops “model legislation” — templates for bills that are introduced in state houses across the country by ALEC members. These bills are developed by members of ALEC’s eight task forces and deal with policy areas such as civil justice, education and energy, environment and agriculture. A ninth task force, public safety and elections, was responsible for voter ID and “stand your ground” legislation, but disbanded in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death. Each task force is open to any ALEC member (including corporate lobbyists). ALEC describes its task forces as “public-policy laboratories where legislators develop model policies to use across the country.”
Many recent, controversial laws either have been based on ALEC model bills or have inspired ALEC model bills, including Arizona’s immigration law, Wisconsin’s collective bargaining law, and Pennsylvania’s voter ID law. At least 1,000 bills drawing on ALEC model legislation are introduced each year, about 200 of which become laws.ALEC also hosts conferences, where members meet to discuss legislation and conservative objectives in government. Speakers at these conferences often include national politicians, corporate lobbyists and conservative political strategists.
What’s the connection between ALEC and the Trayvon Martin shooting?
After Trayvon Martin’s shooter, George Zimmerman, sought protection under Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law, it was revealed that the law had formed the basis of a model law that ALEC introduced in other states. As the shooting gained national attention, many corporations, including Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, McDonald’s, Mars, Proctor & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, dropped out of ALEC.
Are politicians at the federal level involved with ALEC?
ALEC’s political membership is limited to state legislators, but many former state legislators who are now U.S. senators, congressional representatives and state governors are among ALEC’s alumni. U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker are two high-profile examples.
What is ALEC Exposed?
ALEC Exposed is an online wiki run by a watchdog group, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), listing individuals tied to ALEC. Much of its information is based on a document dump from a whistleblower who passed information to CMD and the progressive advocacy organization Common Cause. It lists all state level politicians known to be involved in ALEC, federal politicians who are ALEC alumni and politicians who were members of ALEC but have renounced the organization.