Through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC),
corporations hand Missouri legislators wish lists in the form of "model"
legislation that often directly benefit their bottom line at the
expense of Missouri families. Behind closed doors, numerous ALEC model
bills are crafted by corporations, for corporations. Elected officials
who are members of ALEC then bring their model legislation back to
Missouri, where they claim them as their own ideas and important public
policy innovations without disclosing that corporations crafted and
pre-voted on the bills at closed-door meetings with legislators who are
part of ALEC.
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a corporate bill mill
exerting extraordinary and secretive influence in the Missouri
legislature and in other states. Through ALEC, corporations
hand Missouri legislators wish lists in the form of "model" legislation
that often directly benefit their bottom line at the expense of Missouri
families. Behind closed doors, numerous ALEC model bills are crafted by
corporations, for corporations. Elected officials who are members of
ALEC bring ALEC legislation back to Missouri, where they claim them as
their own ideas and important public policy innovations without
disclosing that corporations crafted and pre-voted on the bills at
closed-door meetings with legislators who are part of ALEC.
ALEC provides legislators with a means to appear highly
active in the legislative process by secretly abdicating their job
drafting legislation to corporate special interests. "It is
funded and dominated by free-market and corporate interests," writes the
Kansas City Star, "who work with like-minded legislators to shield
corporations from legal action, limit the rights of workers,
disenfranchise voters, radically privatize the public education system,
hinder the ability of government to regulate and curb polluters, and
further skew our democracy in the favor of corporations and their
More than 60 legislators in Missouri have been identified as having ties to ALEC, and the number may be much higher.
Identifying the list of Missouri legislators who are part of ALEC is a
difficult task, because ALEC operates largely in secret. Even though
they claim to be a legislative membership organization, there is no full
list of members made public by the organization. Missouri legislators
with ALEC ties include Speaker Tim Jones, Majority Leader John Diehl, Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, and State Senator John Lamping.
Progress Missouri has identified more than 40 Missouri bills that directly echo ALEC models.
ALEC bills in Missouri include so-called right to work laws, bans on
implementation of the Common Core State Standards, resolutions
supporting the Keystone XL pipeline, an act relating to wireless
communication towers, voter registration hurdles, a "parent trigger
act," a "parents’ rights" resolution, purely political resolutions
"reaffirming 10th amendment rights," a "private attorney retention act,"
an Anti-Affordable Care Act ballot measure, a resolution opposing food
and beverage taxes, an "asbestos fairness act," a resolution supporting
the electoral college, a "castle doctrine" law, a resolution encouraging
congress to undermine Social Security, and a "private property
ALEC 101: The Corporate Bill Mill Remaking Missouri LawAs noted by the Center for Media and Democracy's ALEC Exposed
project, the American Legislative Exchange Council is not simply a
lobbying group or a front group. It is much more powerful than that.
Corporations behind ALEC's closed doors hand state legislators the
changes to the law that they desire that directly benefit their bottom
line. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC.
Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators
to approve "model" bills, and also fund almost all of ALEC's operations.
Participating legislators, who are overwhelmingly conservative
Republicans, bring ALEC proposals back to Missouri and other statehouses
as their own ideas and important public policy innovations, without
disclosing that corporations crafted and pre-voted on the bills
alongside legislators in closed-door meetings at fancy resorts.
ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by
legislative members every year, with at least one in every five of them
enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a "unique," "unparalleled"
and "unmatched" organization.
"ALEC is a group funded by corporations andWhy would a legislator be interested in advancing
conservative activists. It beguiles conservative state lawmakers with
wining and dining at annual conferences and the chance to mingle with
deep-pocketed donors. In return, lawmakers promote the group's 'model
legislation,' bills aimed at things like stripping workers of
protections and requiring photo identification to vote."
- Kansas City Star, 04/6/2012
cookie-cutter bills that are giveaways for multinational corporations
located outside of Missouri? ALEC's appeal rests largely on the
fact that legislators receive trips, food and lodging that provide many
part-time legislators and their families with vacations, along with the
opportunity to rub shoulders with prospective donors to their political
campaigns. For a few hours of work on a task force and a couple of
workshops by ALEC experts, part-time legislators can bring the whole
family to ALEC's annual convention, vote in private meetings with
corporate lobbyists , stay in swank hotels and attend parties, all
heavily subsidized by the corporate till. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
reported after the 2011 ALEC conference in New Orleans, "corporate benefactors made sure Missouri lawmakers attending the conference were well fed and hydrated."
As CMD and Common Cause have reported, ALEC also operates several ‘scholarship’ fund for legislators willing to carry their bills in capitols around the country.
These funds are used to allow corporations to give thousands of dollars
in gifts to legislators while avoiding the disclosure that might expose
the conflicts of interests inherent in such a scheme. Scholarships are rarely disclosed to the public, and have been banned for ethics issues in at least three states.
Corporations have recently come under scrutiny because of their relationship with ALEC and more than 40 have cut ties all together.
Corporations that have dropped ALEC membership include: Coca-Cola
Company, Pepsi, Kraft, Intuit, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Mars, Arizona Public
Service, Reed Elseiver, American Traffic Solutions, Blue Cross Blue
Shield, YUM! Brands, Procter & Gamble, Kaplan, Scantron Corporation,
Amazon.com, Medtronic, Wal-Mart, Johnson & Johnson, Dell Computers,
John Deere & Company, CVS Caremark, MillerCoors, Hewlett-Packard,
Best Buy, Express Scripts/Medco, Energy Solutions, Connections Academy,
General Motors, Walgreens, Louis Dreyfus, Amgen, General Electric,
Western Union, Sprint Nextel, Symantec, Reckitt Benckiser Group,
Entergy, Wells Fargo, Merc, Sanofi, Bank of America, and WellPoint.
However, as Barb Shelly of the Kansas City Star notes, ALEC remains a driving force for regressive proposals in the Missouri General Assembly.
“There’s been no outcry from businesses---------------------
begging the legislatures to clip the wings of unions. No, the pressure
comes from outside groups. Republican legislators are willing to poison
relationships and demean their states’ teachers, public safety workers
and others in order to please their out-of-state bosses. These include
the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and National Tax
Limitation Committee, both of which sent operatives to Jefferson City
this session to fire up Republican lawmakers. Some of the language in
the anti-union bills in Missouri and Kansas is strikingly similar to
model bills drafted by ALEC.”
- Kansas City Star, 03/20/2013
active in the legislative process while outsourcing by transferring
their role in drafting legislation to corporate special interests "It is funded and dominated by free-market and corporate interests,"
writes the Kansas City Star, "who work with like-minded legislators to
push various agendas." And what are these various corporate agendas?
Here is a taste:
TAKING AWAY WORKERS' RIGHTS WHILE SHIELDING CORPORATIONS FROM ACCOUNTABILITY
ALEC works fervently to promote laws that would shield
corporations from legal accountability to Missouri citizens and limit
the rights of workers in the state. The group's model
legislation would roll back laws regarding corporate liability for
harming state residents, workers' compensation and on-the-job
protections, collective bargaining and organizing rights, prevailing
wage and minimum wage laws. ALEC is a main proponent of bills that
undermine organized labor by stripping public employees of collective
bargaining rights and that weaken the power of workers in the private
sector through so-called "right to work" laws. They also push "regulatory flexibility" laws that lead to massive deregulation of rules designed to protect the health of Missouri families.
TAKING AWAY VOTERS' FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS
ALEC is directly tied to the trend among state legislatures to limit the ability of American citizens to vote through restrictive "voter ID" laws. Using demonstrably false allegations
of "voter fraud," right-wing politicians are pursuing policies that
disenfranchise students and other at-risk voters--including the elderly
and the poor--who are unlikely to have drivers' licenses with their
current residence and who previously could vote showing proof of
residence and other identification. By suppressing the vote of such
groups of likely Democratic voters, ALEC's model "Voter ID Act" grants
an electoral advantage to Republicans while undermining the fundamental
right to vote in America. In addition, ALEC wants to make it easier for
corporations to participate in the political process. The Public Safety
and Elections Task Force included Sean Parnell of the Center for
Competitive Politics, one of the most vociferous pro-corporate involvement in elections groups in the nation, and promoted legislation that would devastate campaign reform and increase corporate influence in elections.
PRIVATIZING PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Despite constitutional problems, negative impacts on public schools,
bias against disadvantaged students, and comprehensive studies that
demonstrate that private school voucher programs failed to make any
substantial improvements to education, ALEC pushes
vouchers as a way to privatize public education and transfer Missouri
tax dollars from public institutions to private profits. Under the guise of "school choice,"
ALEC pushes bills with titles like "Parental Choice Scholarship Act"
and the "Education Enterprise Act" that establish or expand private
school voucher programs.
At the bidding of its major donors like Peabody Energy, Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries, ALEC is a powerful force behind state-level legislation that would hinder the ability of the people to curb polluters through governmental power. ALEC has previously said that carbon dioxide "is beneficial to plant and human life alike," and it promotes climate change denialism.
The group's model legislation assails EPA emissions guidelines and
greenhouse gas regulations, destabilizes regional climate initiatives,
permits free-reign for energy corporations, and pushes for massive
deregulation of some of the biggest polluters on the planet.
UNDERMINING PUBLIC SYSTEMS AND STRUCTURES
As states face challenging budget deficits, ALEC wants to
make it more difficult to generate revenue in order to close shortfalls.
Such bills include the "Super Majority Act," which makes it so
complicated for legislatures to change tax policy that California voters
overturned the law; the "Taxpayer Bill of Rights," which brought fiscal disaster
to Colorado; and measures to eliminate capital gains and progressive
income taxes. The main beneficiaries of ALEC's irresponsible fiscal
policies are corporations and the wealthiest taxpayers.
identify friendly state legislators and work with them to get
special-interest legislation, please see:
- ALEC Exposed, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy
- "ALEC: The Voice of Corporate Special Interests In State Legislatures"
- "Beyond Dinner and a Movie: ALEC Actively Courts State Lawmakers"
- "Our Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding ALEC's Influence on Your State Laws."
- "Legislating Under the Influence; Money, Power, and the American Legislative Exchange Council."