Lawmakers, advocates question ALEC’s role in crafting state legislation
- Year: 2012
- Length: 2:16 minutes (2.08 MB)
- Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 128Kbps (CBR)
One of the big supporters of the controversial voter ID laws across the country, began its annual meeting today in Salt Lake City, Utah. The American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC has come under fire for providing corporations with an opportunity to influence state legislators. In addition to voter ID, ALEC has supported “model bills” targeting immigrants, loosening gun laws and expanding the private prison industry. The industry-friendly provisions have been introduced, and sometimes passed, in legislatures across the country. Utah state lawmaker Brian King says he sees these bills introduced in the legislature each year.
"I don't want to be passing legislation that's basically a solution in search of a problem, that may be effective in South Carolina or New Hampshire but really doesn't have any applicability to the state of Utah."
Public interest advocates filed a complaint against ALEC with the IRS. Common Cause alleges the group engages in lobbying and shouldn’t have non-profit, tax-exempt status. Bob Edgar is the organization’s executive director.
"The Red Cross is a charity; homeless shelters are charities. But groups that spend 70 percent of their time lobbying are not charities - they're functioning entities to get a particular political view through, and ALEC is such an entity."
Many are also concerned about the secrecy in which ALEC’s model bills are crafted. Eric Ethington with the bipartisan group Alliance for a Better Utah says they're concerned about this overall lack of transparency.
"Lawmakers are going to get ideas for bills from many different sources, and that's not such a big problem. But it does become an issue when they actually go in-depth to write the legislation with these lobbyists, outside the scrutiny of the public."
More than two dozen corporations have dropped their support of ALEC, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Kraft, Wal-Mart, Miller and Blue Cross Blue Shield. Public interest groups are now pressuring AT&T and State Farm to cut ties with ALEC. Opponents are also in Salt Lake, protesting outside ALEC’s 39th annual meeting.