ALEC Membership in Texas - Searching for Names in a Secret Group
Progress Texas is formally launching a campaign to urge Texas legislators to leave ALEC. Last week, we wrote about how corporations have begun to leave ALEC - discovering that it's a toxic, partisan organization they'd rather not be associated with. As of April 12, the following corporations and organizations have left ALEC:
- Intuit (Quicken Software)
- The Gates Foundation
In addition to those large-scale corporations and organizations, companies like UPS, the Altria Group, Union Pacific, and Peabody Energy are going to be talking about leaving ALEC in their May shareholder meetings.
Identifying the list of Texas legislators who are part of ALEC is a difficult task, because ALEC operates largely in secret. Even though they claim to me a legislative membership organization, there is no full list of legislators that are members of ALEC anywhere on their website. Moreover, many Texas Senators and Representatives use their official state accounts to pay for ALEC, and without an open records request (which we hope to pursue very soon), we cannot determine how many Texas legislators use taxpayer dollars to pay for their ALEC membership. To note - according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, more than $125,000 in state tax dollars have been used to pay ALEC dues and attend ALEC events since 2010.
However, we do have two sources that are open to us: the Texas Ethics Commission, and the Center for Media & Democracy. To build our list of Texas legislators who are current members of ALEC, who have attended an ALEC conference, and/or paid membership dues in the past, we first combed through filings with the Texas Ethics Commissions. We utilized the Commission's online query search, and pulled out the data for any expenditure made to ALEC or the "American Legislative Exchange Council" from 2000 to 2012. Then, we combined that list with the July 2011 ALEC membership list provided to us by the Center for Media & Democracy. We checked that combined list against current legislators in the State Senate and State House, and came up with names of over 80 state legislators in Texas.
Searching for names in a secret group is a difficult challenge. However, we are committed to holding elected officials accountable, and we firmly believe the best way to stop allowing corporations to have such commanding influence in the Texas Legislature is to stop supporting organizations like ALEC.
In the coming days, we will be reaching out to Texans across the state, urging them to contact those state legislators who, to the best of our knowledge, are current members of ALEC or who have made campaign expenditures in the past for ALEC events. As we continue our research, we will add names to the list for those legislators using taxpayer dollars to pay for their ALEC membership, and we will remove names from the list for any legislators that announces they will - like a half-dozen corporations -- leave ALEC completely. If you know of any legislators who have actively participated in ALEC in the past, please send an e-mail to ALECexposed@progresstexas.org.