April 9, 2012

ALEC Is A Corporate Front Group, Not Just Another “Conservative” Organization

ALEC Is A Corporate Front Group, Not Just Another "Conservative" Organization In recent weeks, the American Legislative Exchange Council  (ALEC) — a powerful and secretive corporate-funded organization that writes legislation and gets state legislatures to pass its bills — has come under increasing scrutiny.

As media outlets and commentators from the left, right, and center have come to scrutinize the organization, they have frequently referred to it as a “conservative” outfit. Here are just a few examples:

– Los Angeles Times: “Coca-Cola, Kraft leave conservative group ALEC after boycott launched.” [4/6/12]

– Huffington Post: “Kraft Drops Membership In Conservative Group ALEC” [4/6/12]

The Blaze: “Kraft Drops Conservative Lobbying Group Over Voter ID And ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws.” [4/6/12]

Associated Press: “Coke drops conservative group ALEC.” [4/5/12]

These news outlets are all presenting a flawed view of ALEC. While it’s true that the organization courts conservatives, including hundreds of conservative Republican legislators, it simply isn’t true that its primary goal is to advance conservative goals.

As Republic Report has discussed previously, most of ALEC’s funding (an estimated 98 percent) comes not from grassroots conservatives, but from big corporations. ALEC’s legislative operations flow directly from this corporate influence. Corporations help write ALEC’s legislation and then send these bills off to state legislatures.

While some of ALEC’s legislation obviously panders to conservatives, the vast majority of the bills it promotes are directly designed not to adhere to conservative values but rather to benefit its corporate donors. Some of these bills even violate conservative principles.

For example, ALEC has promoted and passed bills that ban local governments from deciding to use their taxpayer dollars to pay living wages to government contractors. The organization also has promoted and passed — on behalf of massive telecom companies — bills that banned local governments from choosing to operate public broadband systems. These bills violate small government, localist values that conservatives nationwide hold, but they benefit large corporations that finance ALEC.

ALEC wants Americans to think that it is just another conservative organization promoting values that millions of Americans hold. But the truth is that the organization’s highest value is to respond to its corporate donors, not the beliefs of Americans of any particular ideology.