Sunday, July 12, 2015

MUST WATCH: Atlanta Journalists Bust ALEC! - Common Cause

MUST WATCH: Atlanta Journalists Bust ALEC! - Common Cause

the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global
corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to
rewrite state laws that govern your rights. These so-called "model
bills" reach into almost every area of American life and often directly
benefit huge corporations.

In ALEC's own words, corporations have
"a VOICE and a VOTE" on specific changes to the law that are then
proposed in your state. DO YOU? Numerous resources to help us expose
ALEC are provided below. We have also created links to detailed
discussions of key issues, which are available on the left.

What is ALEC?

ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful
than that. Through the secretive meetings of the American Legislative
Exchange Council, corporate lobbyists and state legislators vote as
equals on ‘model bills’ to change our rights that often benefit the
corporations’ bottom line at public expense. ALEC is a pay-to-play
operation where corporations buy a seat and a vote on ‘task forces’ to
advance their legislative wish lists and can get a tax break for
donations, effectively passing these lobbying costs on to taxpayers.

Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC.
Corporations sit on ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to
approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate governing board
which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that
corporations do not vote on the board.) Corporations fund almost all of
ALEC's operations.

Participating legislators, overwhelmingly
conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce
them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and
important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations
crafted and voted on the bills.

ALEC boasts that it has over
1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with
one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a
“unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization. We agree. It is
as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had
pushed the people out the door.

Who funds ALEC?

More than 98%
of ALEC's revenues come from sources other than legislative dues, such
as corporations, corporate trade groups, and corporate foundations. Each
corporate member pays an annual fee of between $7,000 and $25,000 a
year, and if a corporation participates in any of the nine task forces,
additional fees apply, from $2,500 to $10,000 each year. ALEC also
receives direct grants from corporations, such as $1.4 million from
ExxonMobil from 1998-2009. It has also received grants from some of the
biggest foundations funded by corporate CEOs in the country, such as:
the Koch family Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Koch-managed Claude R.
Lambe Foundation, the Scaife family Allegheny Foundation, the Coors
family Castle Rock Foundation, to name a few. Less than 2% of ALEC’s
funding comes from “Membership Dues” of $50 per year paid by state
legislators, a steeply discounted price that may run afoul of state gift
bans. For more, see CMD's special report on ALEC funding and spending

Is it nonpartisan as claimed?

ALEC describes itself as a
non-partisan, non-profit organization. The facts show that it currently
has one Democrat out of 104 legislators in leadership positions. ALEC
members, speakers, alumni, and award winners are a “who’s who” of the
extreme right. ALEC has given awards to: Ronald Reagan, Margaret
Thatcher, George H.W. Bush, Charles and David Koch, Richard de Vos,
Tommy Thompson, Gov. John Kasich, Gov. Rick Perry, Congressman Mark
Foley (intern sex scandal), and Congressman Billy Tauzin. ALEC alumni
include: Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric
Cantor, Congressman Joe Wilson, (who called President Obama a “liar”
during the State of the Union address), former House Speaker Dennis
Hastert, former House Speaker Tom DeLay, Andrew Card, Donald Rumsfeld
(1985 Chair of ALEC’s Business Policy Board), Governor Scott Walker,
Governor Jan Brewer, and more. Featured speakers have included: Milton
Friedman, Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney, Dan Quayle, George Allen, Jessie
Helms, Pete Coors, Governor Mitch Daniels and more.

What goes on behind closed doors?

The organization boasts 2,000 legislative members and 300 or more
corporate members. The unelected corporate representatives (often
registered lobbyists) sit as equals with elected representatives on nine
task forces where they have a “voice and a vote” on model legislation.
Corporations on ALEC task forces VOTE on the "model" bills and
resolutions, and sit as equals with legislators voting on the ALEC task
forces and various working groups. Corporate and legislative governing
boards also meet jointly each year. (ALEC says only the legislators have
a final say on all model bills. ALEC has previously said that "The
policies are debated and voted on by all members. Public and private
members vote separately on policy. It is important to note that laws are
not passed, debated or adopted during this process and therefor no
lobbying takes place. That process is done at the state legislature.")
The long-term representation of Koch Industries on the governing board
means that Koch has had influence over an untold number of ALEC bills.
Due to the questionable nature of this partnership with corporations,
legislators rarely discuss the origins of the model legislation they
bring home. Though thousands of ALEC-approved model bills have been
publicly introduced across the country, ALEC’s role facilitating the
language in the bills and the corporate vote for them is not well known.

(ALEC legislators sometimes compare the organization to the National
Conference of State Legislators (NCSL), yet the two organizations could
not be more different. NCSL has zero corporate members. It is funded
largely by state government appropriations and conference fees; it has a
truly bipartisan governance structure, and there is a large role for
nonpartisan professional staff; it does not vote on or promote model
legislation; meetings are public and so are any agreed upon documents.
Corporations do sponsor receptions at NCSL events through a separate
foundation. For more information, see the document ALEC & NCSL.)

How do corporations benefit?

Although ALEC claims to take an ideological stance (of supposedly
"Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government,
federalism, and individual liberty"), many of the model bills benefit
the corporations whose agents write them, shape them, and/or vote to
approve them. These are just a few such measures:

Altria/Philip Morris USA benefits from ALEC’s newest tobacco legislation
-- an extremely narrow tax break for moist tobacco that would make
fruit flavored tobacco products cheaper and more attractive to

Health insurance companies such as Humana and Golden
Rule Insurance (United Healthcare), benefit directly from ALEC model
bills, such as the Health Savings Account bill that just passed in
Tobacco firms such as Reynolds and pharmaceutical
firms such as Bayer benefit directly from ALEC tort reform measures that
make it harder for Americans to sue when injured by dangerous products.

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) benefits directly from the
anti-immigrant legislation introduced in Arizona and other states that
requires expanded incarceration and housing of immigrants, along with
other bills from ALEC’s crime task force. (While CCA has stated that it
left ALEC in late 2010 after years of membership on the Criminal Justice
Task Force and even co-chairing it, its prison privatization bills
remain ALEC "models.")

Connections Academy, a large online
education corporation and co-chair of the Education Task Force, benefits
from ALEC measures to privatize public education and promote private
on-line schools.

How do legislators benefit?

Why would a
legislator be interested in advancing cookie-cutter bills that are
corporate give-aways for global firms located outside of their district?
ALEC’s appeal rests largely on the fact that legislators receive an
all-expenses-paid trip that provides many part-time legislators with
vacations that they could not afford on their own, along with the
opportunity to rub shoulders with wealthy captains of industry (major
prospective out-of-state donors to their political campaigns). For a few
hours of work on a task force and a couple of indoctrination sessions
by ALEC experts, part-time legislators can bring the whole family to
ALEC’s annual convention, work for a few hours, then stay in swank
hotels, attend cool parties -- even strip clubs-- and raise funds for
the campaign coffer, all heavily subsidized by the corporate till. In
2009, ALEC spent $251,873 on childcare so mom and dad could have fun.
Is it lobbying?

In most ordinary people's view, handing bills to legislators so they
can introduce them is the very definition of lobbying. ALEC says "no
lobbying takes place." The current chairman of ALEC’s corporate board is
W. Preston Baldwin III, until recently a lobbyist and the Vice
President of State Government Affairs at UST Inc., a tobacco firm now
owned by Altria/Phillip Morris USA. Altria is advancing a very short,
specific bill to change the way moist tobacco products (such as fruit
flavored “snus”) are taxed-- to make it cheaper and more attractive to
young tobacco users according to health experts. In fact, 20 of the 24
corporate representatives on ALEC’s “Private Enterprise Board” are
lobbyists representing major firms such as Koch Industries, Bayer,
GlaxoSmithKline, Wal-Mart and Johnson and Johnson.

ALEC makes
old-fashioned lobbying obsolete. Once legislators return to their state
with corporate-sponsored ALEC legislation in hand, the legislators
themselves become “super-lobbyists” for ALEC’s corporate agenda, cutting
out the middleman. Yet ALEC enjoys a 501(c)(3) classification, which
allows it to keep its tax-exempt status while accepting grants from
foundations, corporations, and other donors. In our view, the activities
that corporate members engage in should be considered lobbying by the
IRS, and the entity that facilitates that effort to influence state law,
ALEC, should also be considered to be engaged predominantly in
lobby-related activities, not simply “educational” activities.
Re-classifying ALEC as primarily engaged in lobbying facilitation would
mean that donations to it would not count as tax-deductible for
businesses and foundations. Common Cause filed a complaint with the IRS
on July 14, 2011, setting forth evidence supporting its complaint that
ALEC is engaged in lobbying despite its claims to do no lobbying.

Is it legal?

ng model raises many ethical and legal concerns. Each
state has a different set of ethics laws or rules. The presence of
lobbyists alone may cause ethics problems for some state legislators.
Wisconsin, for instance, generally requires legislators who go to events
with registered lobbyists to pay on their own dime, yet in many states,
legislators use public funds to attend ALEC meetings. According to one
study, $3 million in public funds was spent to attend ALEC meetings in
one year. Some legislators use their personal funds and are reimbursed
by ALEC. Such “scholarships” may be disclosed if gifts are required to
be reported. But should the legislators be allowed to accept this money
when lobbyists are present at the meeting? Still other legislators use
their campaign funds to go and are again reimbursed by ALEC; in some
states, campaign funds are only allowed to be used to attend campaign

In short, many state ethics codes might consider the free
vacation, steeply discounted membership fees, free day care or travel
scholarships to be “gifts” that should be disallowed or disclosed.

is a partial list of Missouri politicians that are known to be involved
in, or previously involved in, the American Legislative Exchange
Council (ALEC). It is a partial list. (If you have additional names,
please add them with a citation. The names in this original list were
verified as of posting.)

Legislators who have cut ties with ALEC publicly are also listed here.
Missouri Legislators with ALEC Ties
House of Representatives

Rep. Sue Allen (R-92), State Chairman, ALEC Health and Human
Services Task Force[1] and International Relations Task Force member,[2]
attended ALEC's 2013 annual meeting[3]
Rep. Kurt Bahr (R-102)[4]
Rep. Eric Burlison (R-136); Health and Human Services Task Force[5]
Rep. Mike Cierpiot (R-30)[4]

Rep. Mike Colona (D-St. Louis), has spent campaign money to attend
ALEC events or on ALEC membership dues[6] - former ALEC member, said in a
statement to Progress Missouri that ALEC is "too extreme for me and the
people of Missouri"[7] See Legislators Who Have Cut Ties to ALEC for
Rep. Stanley Cox (R-118)[8]; Civil Justice Task Force[9]
Rep. Sandy Crawford (R-119); Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force[10]
Rep. Gary Cross (R-35)[4]
Rep. Paul R. Curtman (R-105); Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force[11]
Rep. John J. Diehl, Jr. (R-87); Communications and Technology Task Force[12]
Rep. Tony Dugger (R-144); Public Safety and Elections Task Force[13]
Rep. Kevin Elmer (R-139)[4]
Rep. Sue Entlicher (R-133); Public Safety and Elections Task Force[13]
Rep. Keith Frederick (R-149); Health and Human Services Task Force[5]
Rep. Doug Funderburk (R-103)[4]
Rep. Dave Hinson (R-98); Public Safety and Elections Task Force[13]
Rep. Caleb Jones (R-50)[4]

Speaker of the House Timothy Jones (R-89),[8] Former State
Chairman[14], Education Task Force member[15] and recipient of about
$4,000 from ALEC in 2010 to attend meetings in San Diego and
Rep. Shelley Keeney (R-156); International Relations Task Force[16]
Rep. Mike Kelley (R-126); Education Task Force[15]
Rep. Andrew Koenig (R-88); Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force[17]
Rep. Bart Korman (R-42)[4]
Rep. Michele Kratky, has spent campaign money to attend ALEC events or on ALEC membership dues[6]
Rep. Bill Lant (R-131); Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force[10]
Rep. Donna Lichtenegger (R-157); Health and Human Services Task Force[5]
Rep. Lyle Rowland (R-155)[4]
Rep. Bryan Spencer (R-63)[4]
Rep. Chrissy Sommer (R-106)[4]
Rep. Noel Torpey (R-55); Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force[11]
Rep. Bill White (R-129); Health and Human Services Task Force[5]


Sen. Dan Brown (R-16)[4]
Sen. Bob Dixon (R-30)[4]
Sen. Ed Emery (R-126)[1], State Chairman,[8][18] attended 2013 ALEC Annual Meeting[3]
Sen. John Lamping (R-24)[4]
Sen. Brian Munzlinger (R-18)[4]
Sen. Brian D. Nieves (R-98)[1]; Civil Justice Task Force[9]
Sen. Mike L. Parson (R-28); Public Safety and Elections Task Force[13]
Sen. David Pearce (R-21)[4]
Sen. Ron Richard (R-129); Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force[10]
Sen. David Sater (R-29)[4]
Sen. Wayne Wallingford (R-27) [19]
Sen. Jay Wasson (R-20)[4]

Former Representatives

Former Rep. Carl Bearden (R-16),[4] now the executive director of
the conservative non-profit organizations United for Missouri (a
501(c)(4)) and United for Missouri's Future (a 501(c)(3)) and former
state director of the Missouri chapter of Americans for Prosperity[20]
Former Rep. Walt Bivins (R-97)[1][8]; Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force[21]
Former Rep. Ellen Brandon (R-160); Health and Human Services Task Force[5]
Former Rep. Gary Burton [22]
Former Rep. Bonnie Sue Cooper [23]
Former Rep. Cynthia Davis (R-19)[1]
Former Rep. Charlie Denison (R-135)[4]

Former Rep. Scott D. Dieckhaus (R-109); Education Task Force[15]
(did not seek reelection in 2012, but agreed to serve as interim
executive director of the House Republican Campaign Committee)
Former Rep. Doug Ervin (R-35)[1]
Former Rep. Barney Fisher (R-125); Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force[21]
Former Rep. and current U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-124)[4]
Former Rep. Ted Hoskins (D-Berkeley), ALEC "State Legislator of the Year" in 2009[6]
Former Rep. Rodney Hubbard (D-St. Louis), ALEC "State Legislator of the Year" in 2007[6]
Former Rep. Steve Hunter (R-127),[4] later registered as a lobbyist[24]
Former Rep. Allen Icet (R-84),[4] now an employee of BP and former chairman of Missouri Club for Growth[25]

Former Speaker of the House Rod Jetton (R-156), charged with
second-degree assault in 2009,[26] investigated by a federal grand jury
about bribery claims in 2010, now president of The Missouri Times[27]
Former Rep. Kenny Jones (R-117)[4]
Former Rep. and current U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R)[4]
Former Rep. Cole McNary (R-86)[1]; Communications and Technology Task Force[12]
Former Rep. Jerry Nolte (R-33); International Relations Task Force[16]
Former Rep. Darrell L. Pollock (R-146); Communications and Technology Task Force[12]
Former Rep. Rex Rector (R-124),[4] owner of construction company
Former Rep. Mark L. Richardson (R)[23]
Former Rep. Therese Sander (R-22)[1]
Former Rep. Rodney Schad (R-115)[8]; Communications and Technology Task Force[12]
Former Rep. Vicki Schneider (R-17); Civil Justice Task Force[9]
Former Rep. Shane Schoeller (R-139); Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force [17]
U.S. Rep. Jason Smith (R-150), Former State Chairman[14] and Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force member[17]
Former Rep. Joe Smith (R-14)[4]

Former Sen. and later U.S. Rep. and U.S. Sen. Jim Talent (R),[4]
later co-chair of the PR firm Fleishman-Hillard's lobbying practice,
senior advisor to Mitt Romney's 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns,
fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and co-chairman at Washington, DC
lobbying firm Mercury
Former Rep. Steven Tilley (R-106); Public Safety and Elections Task Force [13] (resigned August 13, 2012)
Former Rep. Charles Q. Troupe (D), currently St. Louis Alderman, Ward I [23]
Former Rep. Zachary Wyatt (R-2); Communications and Technology Task Force[12]
Former Rep. Brian Yates (R-56), now director of public affairs at QC Holdings[28]

Former Senators

Former Sen. Jason Crowell (R-27)[4]
Former Sen. Jane D. Cunningham (R-7); Education Task Force[15]
Former State Sen. and later U.S. Rep. Pat Danner (R)[4]
Former Senate Majority Leader Ronnie DePasco [22]
Former Sen. Steven E. Ehlman (R), currently County Executive, St. Charles County. [23]

Former Sen. Jack Goodman (R-29) (Assistant Majority Floor Leader),
spoke on "Saving Dollars and Protecting Communities: State Successes in
Corrections Policy" at the 2011 ALEC Annual Meeting[29] (ineligible to
run for reelection in 2012; ran for presiding judge of the 39th judicial
circuit and won)
Former Sen., now U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-6)[4]
Former Sen. John Griesheimer (R-26); Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force[21]
Former Sen. Chuck Gross (R-23),[4] now vice president at UMB Bank

Lt. Governor Peter Kinder (R), attended 2013 ALEC annual
meeting,[3] former chair of ALEC Education Task Force (named in
Former Sen. David Klindt (R),[4] now vice president of
and lobbyist for the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives[31]
Former Sen. Jim Lembke (R-1); International Relations Task Force[16]

Former Sen. John Loudon (R-Chesterfield),[4] briefly attempted
lobbying, then worked briefly for homebuilding contractors group in
California and, with his wife Gina Loudon, was on "Wife Swap" in March
Former Sen. Robert Mayer (R-25); Civil Justice Task
Force[9] (ineligible to run for reelection in 2012; ran for presiding
judge of the 35th judicial circuit and won)
Former Sen. Gary Nodler (R-32)[4]
Former Sen. Luann Ridgeway (R-17),[4] now Clay County Eastern Commissioner

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