The non-partisan open government group Common Cause filed an IRS complaint accusing ALEC of falsely claiming tax-exempt status while doing widespread lobbying in violation of federal tax law. The complaint asks the IRS to audit ALEC’s work, for the agency to levy fines against ALEC and require the payment of back taxes for the time the group has been in violation of their tax exempt status.
Common Cause said its complaint was based on more than 4,000 pages of ALEC records, including talking points that ALEC workers provided to lawmakers in order to better argue on behalf of the legislation the group develops.
ALEC insists it is not a lobbying group, but Common Cause sees it differently. “It tells the IRS in its tax returns that it does no lobbying, yet it exists to pass profit-driven legislation in statehouses all over the country that benefits its corporate members,” said Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause, in a statement. “ALEC is not entitled to abuse its charitable tax status to lobby for private corporate interests, and stick the bill to the American taxpayer.”
It’s the latest in a series of attacks at the conservative group known for promoting “stand your ground” gun laws, voter ID legislation, union busting bills, anti-immigrant “papers please” legislation and the creation of anti-democratic “emergency managers” like in Michigan. ALEC promotes those measures through legislative task forces.
With all the attention several corporate sponsors have dropped their affiliation with ALEC and the group swears it is done promoting bills not directly tied to it’s free-market mission. But given the public relations efforts ALEC is currently employing to try and make itself out as the victim of a vicious smear campaign from the left there’s little reason to believe ALEC is seriously looking to end its lobbying efforts.
Photo from mrbill via flickr.