Two state lawmakers joined representatives from the advocacy group, Progress Iowa, Tuesday to speak out against a conservative organization they say operates as “stealth lobbyists.”
The American Legislative Exchange Council, called “ALEC” for short, was formed in 1973 by conservative activists, gaining members in state legislatures across the U.S. Progress Iowa released a new research report Tuesday titled “ALEC Watch,” detailing the group’s involvement in the Iowa legislature.
State Representative Marti Anderson (D-Des Moines) says it’s not uncommon for lawmakers to meet with lobbying groups; she admitted many Democrats are associated with various unions in the state. However, she says ALEC is different, because the group operates behind closed doors, without the public’s knowledge.
“We’re associated with organizations,” she said. “But all of those organizations operate out in the open. They do not operate under a shroud of secrecy.” | whotv.com
After spending hundreds of millions of undisclosed funds on state and federal elections, the corporate members of the American Legislative Exchange Council are demanding that state legislators preserve their "right" to anonymously spend money on politics and curry favor with elected officials, and to thwart shareholder efforts to hold the corporations they own accountable.
A December 3 workshop titled "Playing the Shame Game: A Campaign that Threatens Corporate Free Speech," held at ALEC's meeting this week in Washington, DC, warned of "an increasing chorus of anti-business activists calling for an end to corporate political participation in the name of ferreting out so-called 'dark money," according to an agenda obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy. Panelists set their sights on campaign finance disclosure laws and shareholder proposals aimed at promoting transparency in corporate political spending.
It is little surprise that corporate interests would peddle secrecy to the hundreds of Republican state legislators at ALEC.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a nonprofit organization of conservative state legislators and private sector representatives that drafts and shares model state-level legislation for distribution among state governments in the United States. According to its website, ALEC "works to advance the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise, limited government, and federalism at the state level through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America's state legislators, members of the private sector and the general public".
ALEC provides a forum for state legislators and private sector members to collaborate on model bills—draft legislation that members may customize and introduce for debate in their own state legislatures. ALEC has produced model bills on a broad range of issues, such as reducing corporate regulation and taxation, combating illegal immigration, loosening environmental regulations, tightening voter identification rules, and promoting gun rights. ALEC also serves as a networking tool among state legislators, allowing them to research conservative policies implemented in other states. Some of these bills dominate legislative agendas in states such as Arizona, Wisconsin, Colorado, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Maine. Approximately 200 model bills become law each year. Many ALEC legislators also laud the organization for converting campaign rhetoric and nascent policy ideas into legislative language.
ALEC's activities, while legal, have received considerable public scrutiny since many of its activities were publicized by liberal groups in 2011. News reports from outlets such as the The New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, and The Guardian have recently described ALEC as an organization that gives corporate interests outsized influence by enabling them to collaborate with lawmakers in secret. Public pressure since then has led to a number of prominent corporations withdrawing their support for the organization.