ALEC’s War On Democracy

Posted by Jay Riestenberg and Jack Mumby on January 9, 2015

ALEC logo

Our democracy is in serious trouble -- corporations and wealthy individuals are pumping unprecedented amounts of money into our system through secretive outside groups to buy more political power for themselves. And ALEC, the shadowy corporate lobby group, is doing everything they can to keep it that way.

In the 5 years since the Supreme Court’s disastrous ruling in Citizens United v. FEC opened the floodgates to unlimited spending in our elections, ALEC has been working to increase the political clout of corporations and big money donors, while drowning out the voices of everyday Americans.

Here’s a breakdown of how ALEC undermines our democracy:

Supporting Citizens United

After the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Citizens United v. FEC in January 2010, ALEC quickly adopted a resolution hailing the decision as a victory for First Amendment rights. But that claim hardly holds up after 5 years of special interest money drowning out those of us who can’t afford the kind of “speech” the Court had in mind.

ALEC’s resolution also attacked donor disclosure and limits on outside political spending by dark money groups and corporations, which are more necessary than ever in our post-Citizens United politics.

Shutting Down Small Donors

ALEC has produced a “model” bill to block public financing of elections. But where it’s been tried, public financing has proven one of best ways to empower small donors and keep our elected officials accountable to everyday voters -- instead of those who can write the biggest campaign check.

Keeping Dark Money Secret

ALEC is leading the charge to deny Americans their right to know who is trying to influence their votes. At its annual conference in Dallas, Texas this past August, ALEC hosted a training session titled “Silencing Opposing Views: Attacks on Free Speech and Private Charitable Giving,” where it attempted to “spin efforts to limit the anti-democratic effects of unlimited political spending by billionaires and corporations,” according to the Center for Media and Democracy.

And during its States & Nation Policy Summit in Washington, DC last month, ALEC held a panel opposing shareholder efforts to get public corporations to disclose their spending. During that meeting, representatives of the Koch-funded Center for Competitive Politics handed out documents entitled "Five Misconceptions About 'Dark Money'" and a report contending that "disclosure requirements harm First Amendment rights.”

Working With The Kochs

ALEC also has a close relationship with billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who’ve perhaps reaped more benefits from Citizens United than anyone. The Koch brothers are one of ALEC’s largest financial supporters and Koch Industries remains one of ALEC’s most active corporate members.

Meanwhile, the Kochs’ secret network of dark money groups, including ALEC funders like Americans for Prosperity, have spent hundreds of millions of dark money dollars to flood our airwaves with negative ads.

ALEC claims that it no longer works on campaign finance issues after it disbanded its Public Safety & Elections Task Force in 2012, but the harm has already been done. And through its continued work with the Center for Competitive Politics, ALEC still poses a major obstacle to sensible reforms that would not only protect voters, but protect our entire democracy from domination by the rich and powerful.

Sign our petition to overturn Citizens United today!

Office: Common Cause National

Issues: More Democracy Reforms

Tags: ALEC

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