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ALEC Exposed in Texas: The Money Trail

Last week, we announced our latest project: ALEC Exposed in Texas. As you’ll recall, ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) is a conservative group comprised of 300 corporations and 2,000 legislators who work hand-in-hand to draft model bills for state legislatures across the country that are designed to help corporate bottom lines.

ALEC is a very influential organization and has proven successful in creating and implementing legislative policy, influencing voter opinions, and getting conservatives elected.  But recent research has uncovered some of ALEC’s most prominent contributors and allocations of funding, showing just who these people really are.

ALEC’s Corporate Contributions Exposed

Corporate defenders of ALEC try to bill themselves as a dues-paying organization. Yet ALEC receives less than 2% of their funding from corporate and legislative dues, which are listed as tax-free “gifts.” The vast majority of ALEC contributions come in the form of donations directly from the corporations and their corporate foundations. In fact, over the past 3 years ALEC’s legislative contributions were only $250,000 compared to $21.6 million in corporate donations.

ALEC’s primary donors are well-known contributors to conservative political groups and think-tanks.  Some of top contributors include:

  • Exxon Mobile
  • Scaife family (Alleghany Foundation)
  • Coors family (Castle Rock Foundation)
  • Charles Koch (Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation) and (Claude R. Lame Charitable foundation)
  • The Bradley family (the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation)
  • Olin family (John M. Olin Foundation).

Source: People for the American Way

In addition, Altria (Phillip Morris), American Bail coalition, AT&T, Bayer, Coca cola, Energy future holdings, Pfizer, DIAGEO, Reynolds tobacco, Salt River Project and the United Parcels Service have all been major corporate contributors to ALEC.

ALEC and the Corporate “Private Enterprise Board”

America’s largest corporations do more than just contribute the vast majority of their funds. The largest corporations in America even have their own “Private Enterprise Board” that operates alongside their board of directors. Here are just a few of their board members:

  • Altria (formerly Phillip Morris)
  • AT&T
  • Glaxosmithkiline
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Koch Industries
  • Kraft
  • Coca Cola
  • PhRMA
  • Walmart
  • Peabody Energy (world’s largest coal company)
  • State Farm Insurance

Source: Center for Media and Democracy

These companies and contributions go towards passing legislation and electing politicians that benefit their own corporate interests and convincing the American people that they’re operating in our own best interests.

ALEC’s Corporate Money Funneled Back to States

What does ALEC do with all the money? Other than host corporate conferences, they donate the money back to states and candidates that advance their corporate causes. From 2001 to 2011, ALEC donated more than $370 million to states. The top five states in order are:

  • California: $204 million
  • Arizona: $ 16.5 million
  • Texas: $16.2 million
  • Oregon: $16.1 million
  • Illinois: $11.8 million

Source:  Common Cause

Of this $370 million, $228.7 in contributions were used to influence voter referenda on tobacco tax increases and prescription drug prices.

Exposing the corporate influence of ALEC in Texas is a tough challenge, but we will not back down as long as the wealthiest corporations continue to buy whatever laws they want.

Next week, we’ll dig further into the direct connections between ALEC and the Texas Legislature, and we’ll be keeping you posted on ALEC model bills and comparing them to legislation that affects all of our lives. Be sure to let us know if you’d like to help in our efforts to reclaim the Texas lawmaking process from corporate influence.