NOTE: This is a guest blog post from Nick Surgey, a legal associate at Common Cause. This was originally posted on CommonBlog.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) convened today one of its three annual meetings, this one in Charlotte, NC, to discuss and vote on model legislation that it will then promote in all 50 states. Common Cause has obtained thousands of pages of documents, that show for the first time what’s really going on behind closed doors. These materials, including the agenda for today’s meetings, feature the new bills that corporate lobbyists and state legislators will vote on as equals, including legislation that will roll back environmental protections and labor rights.
Common Cause is making all of these ALEC materials available online for journalists, activists and concerned citizens to examine and share, in order to shine a light on exactly what corporations and legislators are discussing as part of ALEC. This has already begun, and we have begun to see many stories emerging in recent days based on these materials. Crucially, these documents also show what’s on the agenda at today’s meetings in NC. So, for the first time we can see what new laws ALEC is going to promote in the coming years.
Materials from the current and previous ALEC meetings are posted on our website under the main policy topic heading. At the bottom of each category is the agenda for the meeting happening right now in North Carolina.
As these documents are further analyzed and discussed, I will update this post with those articles. To begin with, here is a informative article from Greenpeace on the above Energy, Environment, and Agriculture materials:
Greenpeace: What’s on ALEC’s polluter agenda tomorrow?
There has been a growing uproar around ALEC recently, as increased scrutiny shines a light on their role promoting controversial legislation, including the “Stand your Ground” legislation that became a national issue after the tragic shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida. ALEC is also behind model legislation to roll back environmental protections, disenfranchise voters, challenge the Affordable Care Act and reduce corporate taxes.
On Sunday April 22, the New York Times ran a major expose about ALEC on its front page (‘ALEC, a Tax-Exempt Group, Mixes Legislators and Lobbyists’.) This story was based on thousands of pages of unreleased ALEC documents obtained by Common Cause and shared with the Times. The next day Common Cause, working with one of the US’s most renowned whistleblower law firms Philips & Cohen, filed a 4,000 page IRS Whistleblower complaint against ALEC. Since then, we have asked 29 state Attorneys General to investigate ALEC, including in New York, New Jersey, Kentucky and North Carolina, with more states to follow in the coming weeks.
The documents provided to the IRS clearly show ALEC has been improperly acting as a charity for almost 40 years, providing a tax exemption on corporate contributions, while at the same time telling the IRS that it doesn’t spend a dollar on influencing legislation. We are now also asking that state Attorneys General investigate whether ALEC has broken state tax laws, lobbying disclosure rules and gift regulations.
Photo courtesy of Common Cause.
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