Dec 03 2012

Conservative Group ALEC Goes on Defensive After a Year of Public Scrutiny

After a year of national scrutiny and controversy, the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC, convened for its annual three day meeting in Washington DC last week. ALEC is considered one of the most important conservative organizations today bringing together state law makers with corporate and special interest representatives to further a right wing agenda on the state level.

ALEC is well known for helping coordinate state-by-state efforts or model bills, aimed at undermining unions, as well as promoting the NRA’s favored “stand-your-ground” laws that were implicated in last year’s tragic murder of the Florida teen, Trayvon Martin.

ALEC has also come under fire from the IRS for using its tax exempt status to allow corporations to write off lobbying expenses as charitable donations. And, most recently, environmentalists have become aware of ALEC’s newest project, teaming up with the climate-change-denying Heartland Institute to undermine states’ renewable energy mandates.

As a result of the controversies centered around ALEC’s policies, a number of large corporations have publicly severed ties with ALEC including General Motors, General Electric,, Coca-Cola, and, most recently, Bank of America. Last week’s meeting in DC included many standard agenda items including how corporations and state governments can undermine unions, and how loan companies can collect student debts. But there were few new model bills being discussed.

The meeting convened at the same time as a new report has found a strong correlation between ALEC’s economic prescriptions for states and the economic ill-health of those same states. In fact, the report, entitled “Selling Snake Oil to the States: The American Legislative Exchange Council’s Flawed Prescriptions for Prosperity,” found that those states that have not adhered to ALEC’s economic prescriptions such as decreasing progressive taxation and defunding public education, actually fared better.

GUEST: Brendan Fischer, Staff Counsel with the Center for Media and Democracy

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