Paul Weyrich, who helped build a nationwide right-wing political infrastructure following the reelection of Richard Nixon, founded the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in 1973. Members of ALEC’s board represent major corporations such as Altria, AT&T, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Koch Industries, Kraft, PhRMA, Wal-Mart, Peabody Energy, and State Farm. Such corporations represent just a fraction of ALEC’s approximately three hundred corporate partners. ALEC’s activities reflect its founding, funding, and control by corporate interests.
ALEC serves as a means for corporations to advise, lobby and sway legislators. By paying hefty dues and sponsorship fees, corporations are able to participate in ALEC ventures, forums and legislative advocacy work and underwrite conferences, task forces and meetings with politicians. Corporations use ALEC to formulate, present and promote model legislation to elected officials who are ALEC members and sometimes hold leadership roles in the organization. Since the organization claims to only “exchange” legislation, ALEC is not technically a lobbying firm, and does not need to register. However, ALEC’s tactics and operations are strikingly similar to those of registered lobbyists with corporate benefactors.
According to ALEC, in 2009, of the 826 “model bills” that were introduced in state legislatures, 115 of those bills were enacted into law. That number is sure to grow following the major Republican gains in the 2010 elections.
In Arizona, an investigative report by NPRfound that ALEC significantly helped one of its clients, the Corrections Corporations of America (CCA), influence the state’s new immigration law. The CCA is a for-profit prison company whose “executives believe immigrant detention is their next big market,” and thought that a law which “could send hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants” to prison would “mean hundreds of millions of dollars in profits to private prison companies responsible for housing them.” As a dues-paying member of ALEC, the CCA was able to write, present and lobby Arizona policymakers for a draconian immigration bill at an ALEC-hosted conferenc
Title: ALEC: The Voice of Corporate Special Interests in State Legislature
Publication: Pfaw.org and rightwingnewswatch.
Author: Right wing watch
Student Researcher: Brandon Karns, Sonoma State University
Evaluator: Michael McMurtry, Former Project Censored Researcher, Campus Coordinator