Frequently Asked Questions About ALEC

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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.”

Bush administration Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Leavitt addresses members of the American Legislative Exchange Council Thursday, July 29, 2004, in Seattle. Behind Leavitt is a sign for the morning's sponsor, ExxonMobil. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Bush administration Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Leavitt addresses members of the American Legislative Exchange Council in 2004. Behind Leavitt is a sign for the morning's sponsor, ExxonMobil. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

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.

President Bush speaks to the American Legislative Exchange Council in Grapevine, Texas, in 2005. The Council presented Bush with the Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award. (AP Photo/Donna McWilliam)

President Bush speaks to the American Legislative Exchange Council in Grapevine, Texas, in 2005. The Council presented Bush with the Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award. (AP Photo/Donna McWilliam)

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.

President George H. W. Bush gestures while addressing the American Legislative Exchange Council in 1992, Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Barry Thumma)

President George H. W. Bush gestures while addressing the American Legislative Exchange Council in 1992, Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Barry Thumma)

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.

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  • charlie

    What can we do to take down ALEC?

  • http://twitter.com/_joebowman joebowman

    Inform your friends and family. Start just by discussing ALEC with people so they begin to understand the complexity of this issue. ALEC has 40 years head start and they are in every state house and the federal houses in the Republican galleys.

  • Name

    Thank you Bill Moyers for exposing all that ALEC is doing! We will begin working on ALEC. Everytime I see something that appears just a wee bit remiss… I asking if ALEC is at work here.

  • Anonymous

    Education reform is ALEC….Financial reform is ALEC……International Trade deals are ALEC ……. Health care reform is ALEC……and all of this is Third Way corporate democrats……why do supposedly progressive media never tell the public that neo-liberals are worse ALEC offenders than republicans?

  • Anonymous

    Now I get it. Congresspeople are so busy stealing from us that they don’t have time to think about and create legislation for themselves, they just get copies of ALEC position papers. This allow them to take the junkets paid for by lobbyists, call stock brokers and corporate executives to get tips on insider trading, and amass huge campaign chests that they take home when they lose an election or decide not to run again. (Of course, old congresspeople never fade away, they just join think tanks or become lobbyists themselves. One suspects that the Democratic Party has an ALEC, too. Doesn’t anyone run for public office anymore for entirely altruistic reasons?

  • doodlebugrusty

    What part of “conservative” did you miss in the above conversation? There are democratic legislators who are guilty, no doubt but the vast majority are republican right wingers.