WE THOUGHT ALEC WAS PRETTY TERRIBLE, AND THEN WE READ THIS.
It’s worse than you thought.
As you may have seen earlier this week, The Guardian published internal documents from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that provide an unprecedented and disturbing view into how the über-secretive corporate bill factory really operates. This new evidence makes it clear what many have suspected all along - ALEC has misled reporters, the public, its members, and even the Internal Revenue Service.
ALEC’s primary purpose is to influence legislation at the state level, yet for years it has claimed on its tax returns spending a penny on lobbying. This is silly, and that’s why Common Cause, the Voters Legislative Transparency Project, and Clergy Voice, Center for Media and Democracy, and other watchdogs have all called bull on ALEC’s claims. You can add your name to the list here — sign this MoveOn petition requesting that the IRS investigate whether ALEC has violated federal tax law by making substantial misrepresentations on its sworn tax returns.
Beyond the small matter (read: not a small matter) of ALEC’s dishonest about its lobbying activities, here’s what you need to know about these new documents and additional research we’ve done at Progress Missouri on ALEC’s influence in Missouri.
Attacking the rights of Missouri workers remains a top priority for House leaders. In the very first hours of pre-filing for the 2014 legislative session, ALEC Task Force Member Donna Lichtenegger (R-146) filed ALEC’s so-called ‘right to work’ bill with ALEC members Tim Jones and John Diehl, continuing the sad Jefferson City tradition of outsourcing legislative work to the corporate front group.
In ALEC board documents published by The Guardian, ALEC proposed that state chairs – and possibly other legislators – to take an oath to ALEC. The oath would require legislators to “put the interests of the organization [ALEC] first” and to be “morally responsible for the health and well being” of ALEC. It also demanded legislators “inform ALEC of any public records/FOIA requests that include ALEC documents,” which underscores ALEC’s pattern of trying to hide communications with lawmakers from long-standing state transparency laws.
In the midst of the widespread public criticism of ALEC over its undisclosed corporate influence and its destructive agenda — including “Stand Your Ground” gun laws and “Voter ID” laws that make it harder for Americans to vote — at least fify corporations have left ALEC in the last two years. The new documents published by The Guardian reveal that even more corporations stopped funding ALEC, so they set up a “prodigal son” program to get the corporations that left to rejoin. Included in ALEC’s targets are Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, McDonalds, MillerCoors, Bank of America, Walmart and Express-Scripts. Missouri-based Peabody Energy has never severed ties with ALEC.
An investigation by People For the American Way released this week shows that ALEC played a key role in pushing anti-LGBT policies throughout the 1980s. One of their internal memos was even titled,“Homosexuals: Just Another Minority Group”. Read all about it here.
Like we said — it’s worse than you thought.
If you’re looking for more information on ALEC and its influence in state Capitols across the country, check out these recent stories:
- The Guardian: ALEC in funding crisis after donor exodus
- Washington Post: ALEC stands its ground
- The Guardian:ALEC calls for penalties on ‘freerider’ homeowners
- Gawker: The Secret Misspelled Comeback Plan of America’s Creepiest Lobbyists
- Right Wing Watch: Newly Uncovered Documents Expose ALEC’s Anti-Gay Past
And if you haven’t already, please sign the petition to ask the IRS to review ALEC’s tax records and claims that they never lobby.
Sean, Pamela and Matt