What is ALEC?


By Josh Sager


The American Legislative Exchange Council, otherwise known as ALEC, is a politically involved non-profit group funded by some of the largest corporations in our country. ALEC's diverse corporate donor list includes large petrochemical companies, such as Koch Industries, and pharmaceutical companies, such as Pfizer. The purpose of ALEC is to give the donor corporations direct input into the lawmaking process, through drafting and suggesting laws to be passed by lawmakers. Recent legislative efforts to repeal labor and environmental regulations as well as privatization of public goods have been traced back to ALEC for their origin.

In its mission statement, ALEC states its core values as “Limited Government,” “Free Markets,” and “Federalism.” In order to advocate for its values, ALEC has nine task forces that cover virtually every segment of policy in government. The ALEC task forces consist of industry experts, policy analysts and corporate interests and their goal is to write “model legislation” to present to sitting politicians in the legislature.

The main vehicle for ALEC to advocate for its causes is to create laws that are then presented to politicians for them to sponsor in the legislature. These “model legislations” have been presented in both state and federal legislatures, primarily by Republicans, but in some cases by Democrats. While the exact number of laws written by ALEC is unknown, as some politicians will not disclose the source of the bill that they are proposing, ALEC itself claims that over 1,000 of its bills were presented in state and federal legislatures last year alone.

ALEC is funded, virtually in its entirety, through donations from large corporations. The donations that are not from corporations are those of the politicians who are a part of ALEC, but as they only pay a $100 fee for a two-year membership, these donations are negligible. The largest corporate donors, including AT&T, Pfizer, Wal-Wart, UPS, Koch, Exxon Mobil, the Atria Group, and State Farm Insurance, among others, are organized into the “corporate board” of ALEC.

While the full list of corporate donors to ALEC is too large to list in this article, you can find a complete list here.

Each of the component corporations has donated thousands of dollars, if not tens of thousands, a year in order to support ALEC. In compensation for their donations, these corporations get access to ALEC-supported politicians and a say in what the “model legislation” presented by ALEC constitutes.

ALEC acts like a union for large corporations in that it allows its members to get together and negotiate with representatives of the more powerful government.

ALEC is represented by some as a non-partisan policy group with society's best interests at heart. This characterization is simply false, as it is not a non-partisan policy group any more than a defense lawyer is a crusader for social justice; both serve to advocate for their clients no matter the evil they have committed in the past. ALEC exists to serve the corporate interest that created and funded it, and representing it as anything else confuses the goals of its legislation.

The purpose of a corporation is to make the maximum profit for its shareholders, and the central ideal of ALEC is to allow corporations to write legislation that has the potential to be passed into law. As corporations are amoral and entirely driven by the profit motive, the “model legislation” will invariably have policies beneficial to the corporations who fund it; anything else would mean that the corporations are being remiss in their duties to make a profit.

Recent pro-corporate legislation, particularly on the state level, has often been born in the meetings of ALEC task forces. Anti-labor bills such as the “Paycheck Protection Act” and the "Employee Rights Act" make it more difficult for unions to organize and fund themselves. The "Prison Industries Act" allows for private prisons to produce goods using prison labor at far below the minimum wage. The "Animal and Ecologic Terrorism Act” expands the definition of the term "ecological terrorist" and increases the penalties under the law for engaging in environmental activism. In the recent hydrofracking fights around the country, ALEC has drafted resolutions intended to keep fracking authorization on the state level, where regulatory authority is far weaker. The sheer diversity of the ALEC written legislation is massive and covers virtually every aspect of policy that affects corporations.

As many ALEC corporations benefit hugely from decreased environmental, worker, or social protections, we can see that the corporations donating to ALEC are in fact getting a return on their investment into this non-profit.

Regardless of whether one agrees with the legislation passed by ALEC politicians or not, the fact remains that corporations are being given the ability to literally write the laws that are being used to govern their actions and ours. There is a massive conflict of interest inherent to the very idea of ALEC, and while its actions are not illegal or immoral, they are corporatist. The government in a democratic country is intended to take care of the common good, not cater to the profit margins of large corporations. As such, laws should be made “for the people, by the people,” not “by the corporations, for the corporations.”

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Showing 9 reactions

@Cheat_TheReaper tweeted link to this page. 2012-06-02 12:56:01 -0400
commented 2012-06-01 03:07:35 -0400 · Flag
I dont get it… Businesses drive America, what they do is all up to their business plans. When an employee doesnt like what their employer is doing, do they not have the option to quit? Can employers not fire an employee anymore? I was fired by my employer after I got home from Iraq… ALEC companies donate to politicians for what they want the country to go, just like EVERY other lobbying group does. Teachers Unions, and straight up unions in general! I was fired from my ob like I said earlier because I would not go with the union and said I would go against everything they were trying to do. Security has a union? oh please! give me a freakin break!
followed this page 2012-05-16 12:52:20 -0400
@MichaelMonetta tweeted link to this page. 2012-05-14 19:41:12 -0400
Fantastic post by one of our volunteers: "What is ALEC?" http://t.co/w7PzbIMc
@PortiaABoulger tweeted link to this page. 2012-05-11 18:48:04 -0400
@jsager99 tweeted link to this page. 2012-05-11 18:19:01 -0400
@nataliapresent tweeted link to this page. 2012-05-11 18:00:37 -0400
This is really good: RT @WolfPAChq: Fantastic post by one of our volunteers: "What is ALEC?" http://t.co/O1hfhAfQ
@WolfPAChq tweeted link to this page. 2012-05-11 17:55:15 -0400
Fantastic post by one of our volunteers: "What is ALEC?" http://t.co/w7PzbIMc
published this page in Blog 2012-05-11 17:53:30 -0400

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