Major corporations promise fairness for workers and the environment, yet at the same time support repressive legislation promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council. On August 19, 2019, nearly 200 corporate executives endorsed a statement produced by a trade group, the Business Roundtable, affirming commitments to protect the environment, treat workers fairly, and respect communities they do business with, to promote “an economy that works for all Americans.” However, as Donald Shaw reported for Sludge, just days before endorsing the Business Roundtable statement, twelve of the companies whose executives signed it also sent lobbyists to ALEC’s annual conference, where those lobbyists worked with Republican legislators to promote policies that Shaw described as intended to “shore up the power of corporations beyond the reach of the democratic process.”
Some of the companies that participated in both meetings include Blue Cross Blue Shield, Bayer AG, Chevron, FedEx, NRG Energy, Vistra Energy, United Parcel Service, Pfizer, USAA, Marathon Petroleum, and Duke Energy. The investigative news site Documented published the list of companies that attended ALEC’s secretive meetings.
ALEC drafts model legislation and promotes policies meant to empower corporations, often by reducing workers’ rights and impacting local communities’ health. In recent years, for example, ALEC has sought to push bills that would preempt federal regulation of fracking, by ensuring that fossil fuel companies are not required to disclose the chemicals used in the process. They have also created a “legislative toolkit” designed to weaken unions. With companies like Chevron, Marathon Energy, and other petroleum giants on board, it is not surprising that ALEC has made a resolution advocating “freedom in energy policy” and denouncing Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey’s Green New Deal as “socialist and anti-capitalist.”
As of October 2, 2019, the story of the conflict between corporate executives’ affirmation of the Business Roundtable goals and their companies’ participation in ALEC’s annual meetings has not been the subject of corporate news coverage. There are other articles addressing ALEC’s impacts on US politics and economics, but none of these have covered the specific issue of the Business Roundtable and ALEC.
Donald Shaw, “These Companies Promised to Be Socially Responsible While Pushing ALEC’S Agenda,” Sludge, August 27, 2019, https://readsludge.com/2019/08/27/these-ceos-promised-to-be-socially-responsible-but-their-companies-are-pushing-alecs-right-wing-agenda/.
Nick Surgey, “Revealed: ALEC Annual Meeting Attendees. List Includes Trump Administration and 2020 Campaign Officials,” Documented, August 19, 2019, https://documented.net/2019/08/alec-legislators-am-2019//
Student Researcher: Elmer Hernandez (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Michael Courville (Sonoma State University)