Meet ALEC, The Group Taking Over Your State Legislatures

Ever wonder how the anti-worker, anti-immigrant, anti-woman legislation sweeping through states like Arizona, Wisconsin, Alabama, Minnesota, Ohio and Florida ended up in front of legislatures all around the same time and with strikingly similar language?  Thank ALEC.

ALEC, or the American Legislative Exchange Council is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization with approximately $6.5 million in annual revenue.  ALEC members include corporations, trade groups, think tanks and nearly one-third of the nation’s state legislators (almost all Republican) who share a common mission: to “advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism and individual liberty.”

ALEC members have one simple common belief uniting them, and that is that the government has an unfair monopoly on public goods and services.  ALEC members believe simply in the privatization of all government function, including public schools, utilities, transportation and the regulation of public health, consumer safety and environmental quality.

The  group claims to be a non-partisan and independent organization, but as a reported by Beau Hodai in In These Times, ALEC is in fact heavily funded by the Koch brothers and corporate allies and, despite their status as a 501(c)(3), a status that directly prohibits groups like ALEC from taking part in the formation of legislation, has taken to providing “model legislation” to legislators.

Legislative members, like Arizona Senate president Russell Pearce then use these model bills to draft and introduce in their states.

According to Hodai’s report, ALEC spends more than $1 million annually for retreats where corporate lobbyists meet with state lawmakers.  These retreats serve  as opportunities for corporate interests to “educate” lawmakers on their model bills.

ALEC avoids disclosures of these gifts to lawmakers and the corporate donations that make them possible largely by accounting slight-of-hands but, as Hodai’s work shows, ALEC receives significant funding from the Charles Koch Foundation (CFK) and other hard-right groups affiliated not only with the notorious Koch brothers but with Tea Party astroturf king Dick Armey.

The destructive nature of ALEC and its manipulation, if not outright disregard and violation of its nonprofit status cannot be over-stated.  The Koch brothers have but one goal in mind and that is the dismantling of state government for the benefit of their own personal private enterprises.  They don’t care about the people, they only care about profit.

And that means that services like schools, prisons, roads and utilities that serve the common good will be, if ALEC has its way, siphoned into the private sector.  We’ve seen the corruption of the private prison movement in Pennsylvania, Arizona, and a host of other states where for-profit facilities operate outside of public accountability.

Unless ALEC loses its 503(c)(4) status there’s no reason to think the tide of corruption and greed and the total and flat out looting of public safety net will cease.  We’re not talking about a return to the days of the Great Depression.  We’re talking about a return to the life and times of Charles Dickens.

Photo from tracyo via flickr.


W. C
W. C9 months ago


William C
William C9 months ago

Thank you for the article.

Steven Brewer
Steven Brewer7 years ago

Robert H
Communists...LMAO... that is so 90's don't you know Bush made us a debtor nation to Communist China to pay for his off budget wars and allowed the trade deficit to grow so much that we now send more money to Communist China then the GNP of most countries in the world. Yea we were told if we did not fight the commies in Nam SouthEast Asia would topple like so many dominos and we would be fighting them here in the streets and before that denator Joe saw Communists everywhere he looked until he looked into the military and Fred koch saw communies under every bed he slept in after being told by a low level beaureaucrat from the politiburo that commies had infiltrated the unions, the entertainment industry, the educational system and just about every other system in America. Fred passed his paranoria onto his sons so that thay still wage war on the unions, the entertainment industry our educational system...
Fred also p[aseed onto his sons his racism through the John Birch Society and their open war on mixed race couples with JBS members openly hunting and slaying mixed couples in cities throughout America during the 60s. Take you commie crap and shove it into any of your orifices you choose.

Steven Brewer
Steven Brewer7 years ago

ALEC (cont'd)
ALEC is a 501(c)3 corporation, a non-profit organization whose donations are conveniently tax deductible. I am wondering how a 501(c)3 corporation can do so much politicking and still keep their non-profit tax-deductible status...anyone???

I am compiling a list of ALEC corporate members along with as many of their products so that we can start hitting them where it will hurt by boycotting their products.

I have a blog at: where I will be posting the list soon.

Steven Brewer
Steven Brewer7 years ago

ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) was formed by three Conservatives in 1973 in order to promote right wing social agendas by writing legislative frameworks for state legislators and with Task Forces during the Reagan Administration. Much like the Tea Party movement was coopted by ALEC, the original ALEC was coopted by Corporate America in the late 80s/early 90s as the Koch brothers tried to slither back into the power after their John Birch Society was ostracized by even the far right Conservative Party after Glodwater's trouncing in 1964. ALEC now has close to or just over 400 corporate members with pockets deep enough to buy any politicians on all levels. ALEC has over 100 dirty energy members to push the anti-EPA and anti-global warming agenda, over 80 Health & /nsurance industry members who used ALEC's resources to fund Dick Armey's coopting of the Tea Party movement to push death panels and other such nonsense to fight tooth and nail against any real health care reform that would help the 99%, over 60 financial sector fight to keep any and all regulations away from Wall St and the too big to fail banks. there are at least 2 private prison corporations who use ALEC's political apparatus to toughen laws and make stricter sentencing to keep their for profit prisons filling and full for the foreseeble future (who needs the scale of justice when you have the backing of billions at your disposal.

Mustafa L.
Mustafa L7 years ago

There is indeed no difference between the democrats and the republicans. They are all bought up whores who have and continually keep giving $trillions to the rich vultures. Only way to get back democracy is to kick out both democrats and republicans and their lookalikes like the tea party fu*

Charles C.
Charles C7 years ago

The real point here should be that ALEC is most likely operating illegally. How can you justify a non profit with the sole agenda of making the rich richer? Maybe we can't stop the corporations from meeting like this but surely we can stop them from meeting with legislators to create policy! Now there would be a good piece of legislation! Get our elected officials out of ALEC. Even get them out of politics period!

Marcus Fish
Marcus Fish7 years ago

Fruitcake or not, here is the history I have studied; America has historically been built on taxes from the rich.

This is the price they pay to make money in the world's largest economy - and it has always been well worth it for all sides. The taxes we get back from the rich allowed us to be world leaders - and proved why capitalism seemed to be a great system; prosperity hand in hand with the seemingly socialistic "welfare for the people" as quoted from the constitution. Imagine that...

Now there seems to be a trend towards catering to the rich as they destroy our economic future, our youth, our workforce, our professionals, science, tech and intellectuals. A focus on the importance of the dollar over the good of the nation or people. It seems to me, it wasn't until Reagan that the "feel sorry for the rich paying taxes" conservative agenda spread, and grew;

From 1917 to 1981, our top margin taxes AVERAGED 72%. Think about this for a moment.

Since Reagan, the top margin has averaged 39%. (Realistically, the uber-rich get away with more like 16-17% after shelters, loopholes, evasion, etc.)

The high margin has been at 35% for the last 9 years and counting - while we are at war! (they just voted to increase defense spending despite the debt ceiling)

So if seeing the truth about our history - and standing up against corrupt greed of the wealthy conservatives makes me a fruitcake, respectfully I don't want to be your definition of "sane". (and I don't know wh

Care For All
Care For All7 years ago

Please see this Care2 blog and WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP!

Care For All
Care For All7 years ago

Thanks Jessica!

Here are some additional articles to learn more about what’s really going on:

1. Through ALEC, Global Corporations Are Scheming to Rewrite YOUR Rights and Boost THEIR Revenue
“On July 13, 2011, the Center for Media and Democracy unveiled a set of over 800 "model" bills and resolutions secretly voted on by corporations and politicians through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). These bills reveal the corporate collaboration reshaping our democracy, state by state.

2. ALEC Exposed--How Corporations Are Taking Over Our Democracy
A new web site, ALEC Exposed, reveals the powerful coalition of corporations, rightwing foundations, and state legislators who have been literally writing the laws at the state level to push their pro-business, anti- democracy agenda.

3. ALEC Exposed: State Legislative Bills Drafted by Secretive Corporate-Lawmaker Coalition
ALEC has crafted bills to attack worker rights, to roll back environmental regulations, privatize education, deregulate major industries, and pass voter ID laws. Thanks to ALEC, at least a dozen states have recently adopted a nearly identical resoluti