For Immediate Release
Mary Boyle, Common Cause (202) 736-5770
Nikolina Lazic, Center for Media and Democracy (608) 770-1343
List of ALEC Corporate Members Released
WASHINGTON - The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has long been a secretive organization that does not disclose a full list of its corporate members and donors.
Today, Common Cause and the Center for Media Democracy are posting the most up-to-date list of corporate members available, based on documents obtained by Common Cause and filed with the IRS last week in its whistleblower complaint against ALEC.
This 2011 list of corporations sitting on ALEC issue task forces, disclosed as part of the IRS whistleblower complaint, is available through Common Cause here. The full list of companies that have been involved in ALEC in recent years, updated with the new data, is available here through the Center for Media and Democracy.
ALEC has come under increased public scrutiny lately for its extremist agenda to limit voting rights, privatize schools and prisons, weaken environmental protections, and promote ‘Stand Your Ground’ gun laws based on the controversial Florida law at issue in the Trayvon Martin shooting. Amid calls for accountability from civil rights and democracy reform groups like Color of Change, Credo Action, Progress Now, PFAW, Common Cause, and the Center for Media and Democracy, at least 14 major companies, including Proctor & Gamble, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Kraft Foods, Mars Inc. and Coca-Cola, have abandoned ALEC in recent weeks, as have 31 state legislators in 11 states from both major political parties.
Color of Change is urging consumers to reach out to select ALEC corporations to maximize the impact of people’s voices. More information about their corporate campaign is available here. Their campaign is currently focusing public pressure on Amazon, AT&T, State Farm, and Johnson & Johnson.
“Firms that remain in ALEC, despite its involvement in a scheme to defraud the IRS and its advocacy of legislation that puts private profit ahead of the public interest have some explaining to do,” said Bob Edgar, president and CEO of Common Cause.
ALEC’s member legislators each year introduce about 1,000 bills based on ALEC “model” bills in statehouses across the country. Much of that legislation is drafted by corporate executives and lobbyists; ALEC records unearthed by Common Cause indicate that companies work through ALEC to steer it to passage.
ALEC’s legislative portfolio combines an agenda that favors corporations over consumers and workers – lower corporate taxes, limited environmental protections, and the repeal of worker rights, along with the privatization of Social Security, Medicare, schools, prisons and other government institutions or services – with hot-button social issues. ALEC announced last month that it had disbanded its “Public Safety and Elections” Task Force, the source of its controversial legislation to expand gun ownership and limit the right to vote, although the former legislative leader of that task force vowed that its work would continue through other ALEC task forces.
“ALEC has an extreme agenda through task force meetings where corporate lobbyists vote as equals with elected representatives on model bills to limit Americans’ rights, behind closed doors and without the press or public present,” said Lisa Graves, Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy, ALECexposed.org and PRWatch.org.
The ALEC records released today were obtained during Common Cause’s research into ALEC’s lobbying activity. Common Cause filed an IRS “whistleblower” complaint against ALEC last week, charging that the organization has violated the terms of its federal tax-exempt status by engaging in lobbying.
The Common Cause filing includes more than 4,000 pages of previously unreleased emails, “issue alerts,” “talking points,” meeting minutes and other documents detailing ALEC’s lobbying activity.
ALEC calls itself a charity and its leaders insist the group does zero lobbying. ALEC’s tax exemption allows the group’s corporate funders, which supply most of its multi-million dollar annual budget, to claim a tax deduction for their contributions. The Common Cause complaint asks the IRS to investigate ALEC’s activities, collect unpaid taxes, and impose appropriate penalties.
Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest.