The special interest-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is reeling from weeks of intense criticism of the unethical influence it has long enjoyed in state legislatures across the nation.
ALEC has been in existence since the 1970s, but only recently has the extent of their unethical influence in state legislatures around the nation been exposed. ALEC promoted radical gun legislation in Florida now at the heart of the controversy over the killing of an African-American teenager, Trayvon Martin, in many state legislatures. This is a major reason why major corporations including Coca Cola, PepsiCo, McDonald’s, and Proctor & Gamble have announced that they are ending their sponsorships of ALEC.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “The organization, with a staff of 30 and a $5.5 million yearly budget, teams lawmakers up with corporate interests to push decidedly pro-business bills through state legislatures. Any lawmaker who is a member of the group can simply log on to its Web site and find hundreds of bills to copy. They can shop for ideas on how to curb class-action lawsuits, help the telecommunications industry or toughen the criminal justice system.” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/8/2005]
Here in Colorado, ongoing research has uncovered dozens of bills with origins in ALEC’s so-called “model legislation.” In the past few years, ALEC has sponsored bills to irresponsibly weaken Colorado’s sensible gun laws, attack the rights of consumers, and limit access to voting. Even after ALEC announced that it will scale back some of the most radical parts of their agenda, they are expected to continue pushing legislation undermining the rights of individual Americans, and stacking the deck against accountability for corporate special interests.